Auckland councillor Julie Fairey - the wife of stood-down Transport Minister Michael Wood - has been forced to correct a statement about her and her husband’s role in a trust owning shares in Auckland Airport.
After being elected to the council last October, Fairey filed a declaration of interest stating neither she nor her husband has a financial interest in any company or business, and neither of them has a beneficial interest in a trust.
Late this afternoon, Fairey said she had updated her declaration form “to reflect my beneficiary title in the JM Fairey Family Trust, as I was not aware of this role until this morning”.
Her updated declaration said: “Spouse M Wood has shares in Auckland International Airport Ltd and Contact Energy. I do not hold any shares directly.”
Fairey said Wood’s airport shares were bought before the couple’s relationship.
Fairey also corrected her declaration to confirm she and Wood have a beneficial interest in a trust and gave the extent of the interest: “JM Fairey Family Trust, holds (a) range of investments inherited through family. No active investing, eg trading shares. Shifting to managed fund investments. Spouse and I are both trustees and beneficiaries.”
Fairey said in previous years she had proactively declared what she knew, which was her trustee role.
In June last year, when Fairey was chairwoman of the Puketāpapa Local Board, she declared being a trustee in the Michael Wood Family Trust, which held a half interest in the family home and had been wound up; the JM Fairey Family Trust; and the HE Fairey Charitable Trust, established by her grandfather and makes grants to people with disabilities.
Fairey said she is also a trustee of the Aunties Charitable Trust, which does not hold any shares. In June last year, she put herself down as a board member.
Wood, who has been stood down from his transport portfolio by Prime Minister Chris Hipkins over failing to properly disclose shares he owns in Auckland Airport, had no comment about his wife’s incorrect declaration and corrections, a spokesman for his office said.
Fairey said the shareholdings have never had a bearing on her position around the sale of Auckland Airport shares, which go to a vote on Thursday.
Fairey is believed to be opposed to Mayor Wayne Brown’s proposal to offload the shares to help plug the council’s $325 million budget hole.
The first-term councillor’s links to her husband’s airport shares are being looked at by council officers to see whether they pose a conflict of interest and whether she can participate in Thursday’s vote.
Auckland Council manager of governance services, Rose Leonard, said some councillors or their spouses directly or indirectly own shares in Auckland Airport.
“Whether ownership of AIAL shares gives rise to a conflict of interest is a question of fact that can only be determined on a case-by-case basis,” said Leonard, who has not named the councillors facing a potential conflict of interest on the controversial sale.
Fairey said pending advice from the Office of the Auditor General in relation to councillors who may have shareholdings in AIAL directly or indirectly, “I will follow accordingly regarding my participation in the coming Annual Budget vote”.