Today's Christchurch Press devotes it's editorial to the 'gentleman's agreement' between former Labour MP Pete Hodgson and Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull exposed by the Taxpayers' Union earlier this week.
Editorial: Gentlemen sign contracts too - Christchurch Press 25/02/2014
The "gentlemen's agreement" is an old-fashioned notion, almost to the point of quaintness. It suggests that a gentleman's word is as good as his bond, and a handshake as binding as a written contract.
Of course, it belonged to a time when women were not expected to worry themselves with business matters, avoiding the possibility that one of the gentlemen involved might actually be a lady. But there are better reasons than that for not relying on such handshake deals in the modern age, particularly for the spending of public money.
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull is defending the agreement under which former Dunedin North MP Pete Hodgson was paid by Cull's council to lobby the Government to retain the core functions of AgResearch at Invermay. Hodgson was paid $3400 for duties which included advocating on the council's behalf, contributing to a letter to Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and writing a 10-page report for the board of AgResearch.
The council says that Cull was its main point of contact with Hodgson, but it could not locate a single email, contract or any other document relating to the agreement. Cull said: "I could describe it as a gentleman's way of doing business in the south."
There is no reason to believe that Cull and Hodgson are anything other than honest gentlemen, but the geographic accident that also gives them "southern man" status should not put them above the usual requirements by which local government business is conducted. Read more.