What is it with MPs and racehorses?

Fresh off the back of Winston Peters wrongly stating that he didn’t have to declare his 10% stake in the lease of a racehorse, the Prime Minister has done exactly the same thing. In 2007, John Key owned a share of racehorse Aetherius with ten other people as part of a syndicate, selling his share in 2008. He has now ended up declaring it in Parliament’s register of pecuniary interests, but says:

“I can’t see why I’d need to declare it, but honestly it’s so long ago I can’t really be bothered going through the arguments so I’ve declared it.”

Mr Key also echoes Mr Peters’ reasoning that it doesn’t matter, because it didn’t make a profit:

“It would be more correctly referred to as a donkey than a horse. I think it managed to win one race where everyone else was running in the other direction, and it now lives in Noumea, hopefully a happy life.”

Time to sigh and repeat what I said about Mr Peters:

Why would a syndicate lease a horse? Presumably because they want to enter it in races, which offer prize money to those that win. In fact, this particular horse, sired by Zabeel (apparently a famous racehorse, to those that follow such things), made $20,000 in prize money last year. A share in the lease of said horse means that you get a share in the prize money. That’s a pecuniary interest, and it doesn’t matter that you don’t actually own the horse.

Further, Mr Peters’ line of reasoning that it didn’t matter anyway, because he lost money, is absurd. Is he really trying to say that MPs shouldn’t have to declare shares in companies that are making losses?

Is it really so difficult for our politicians to understand the concept of a financial interest in an asset?

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