Of late our fine nation has been so fixated on the low price of milk, it did not realise that another white food product was proving to be a bit of a bolter. That was the humble brassica cauliflower.

Statistics NZ's Food Price Index showed the price of cauliflower was at record heights - averaging $8.24 for a 1.5kg head, a 47 per cent increase on the year before.

That emerged the day after the MPs' register of pecuniary interests was released. Everyone knows MPs are fond of brassicas, largely due to the amount of hot air the vegetable family produces.

So spare a thought for the poor among them. There were MPs with skimpy entries in the register, including Act leader David Seymour, who appears determined to ruin the image of Act as the party which sang Money Money Money at karaoke parties in the late 90s, when Seymour was just a boy. Seymour is a champion of property rights, but has no property to have rights over.


The proper purpose of the register is to allow people to assess whether self-interest could be a factor in decision making. It is not exhaustive - it does not tell us how wealthy any MP is. About 76 MPs disclosed interests in trusts and while property held in trusts has to be disclosed, other assets and investments do not.

Courtesy of that release, we also know that the lawyer who tends to Prime Minister John Key's family trust is the head of a company which specialises in running trusts for foreigners.

It shows no wrongdoing by Key but optics is important in politics. Key has been the frontman in dealing with questions about whether New Zealand was impugned by the Panama Papers.

Those pointed to New Zealand as one of the favoured countries for foreign trusts to allow the well-heeled to dodge taxes in their own countries. It is not helpful that the lawyer in charge of Key's own concerns heads a company that specialises in just that and openly touts for business by advertising the benefits of a tax-free status and limited disclosure rules.

The fallout of the Panama Papers prompted UK Prime Minister David Cameron to release his records in the UK, a relatively fulsome disclosure of the sources of income he had received.

That was rapidly followed by other MPs, both in his party and others. Some warned it would set a dangerous precedent for future political figures. But others predicted it would become the norm for senior political figures to release more in-depth personal financial figures.

The difference between Key and Cameron is that Cameron was directly implicated in a foreign trust, courtesy of his father's arrangements. Key has not been. But what happens in the UK tends to flow through to New Zealand.

We are often short-changed on the actual scandal front. Back in 2009, New Zealand politicians' spending indiscretions were pale compared to the florid excesses of moats in the United Kingdom. So too it has been with the foreign trusts.

While New Zealand was identified as an easy place for a foreign trust, thus far no New Zealand politicians have been discovered secretly squirreling away moolah offshore.

But changes to disclosure rules tend to flow through. It was Key himself who drove the opening up of individual MPs' expenses in the wake of the expense scandals in the UK.

Labour leader Andrew Little put on a show of going the extra mile by releasing his income tax records and calling on Key to follow suit. Little has absolutely no trusts at all listed in his name, so he was free to take the moral high horse.

Little's own records proved nothing other than that he earned slightly uphill of $130,000 when he headed the EPMU. They did not prove he did not have a foreign trust, nor whether he might have had income or wealth stored elsewhere.

He gets middling marks for transparency, given the extent of his disclosure fell short of those in the United Kingdom.

It is what is known in the trade as a stunt. In calling for Key to join him, Little is walking a fine line. He risks looking like he is attacking Key based on his wealth - a technique that has failed miserably for Labour for eight years so far.

Key meanwhile has steadfastly refused to follow suit because of what appears to be concern about the precedent it would set. He is now in the role of the boy with his finger in the dyke.

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