Former Prime Minister Dame Jenny Shipley was quizzed about her reputation as a company director today when she appeared before the commerce select committee at Parliament.

Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove asked whether her association with the failed company Mainzeal, which she chaired until late last year, would impinge on the reputation of Genesis, a state-owned energy company which she chairs.

Dame Jenny said she held many directorships, present and former, and she always sought to act in the best interests of the company.

She did not directly address Mr Cosgrove's questions about reputation or give him any assurances.


Dame Jenny said she was pleased and proud to lead Genesis, and said it would be returning $57 million to the Government after the half yearly result was announced in February, the first dividend since 2010.

Genesis is due to be partially privatised this term with up to 49 per cent of the company floated.

She was questioned by Labour MP Clare Curran about who was paying for Bill Ralston to give her public relations advice on her Mainzeal dealings.

After attempts by National MPs to stop that line of questioning, Dame Jenny said "I can categorically assure you that Genesis energy is not paying for any private services to myself.''

Labour MPs thanked her and Albert Brantley for the way in which they had answered written questions put to the company in advance of their appearance.

They said they could teach Mighty River Power (MRP) a lesson in how to answer questions properly.

Labour had a testy exchange this morning with MRP chairwoman Joan Withers and chief executive Doug Heffernan about their failure to answer most of the 130 questions put to them.