31 Mar 2011

PM heckled over handling of Hubbard

9:58 pm on 31 March 2011

The Prime Minister has been heckled and called a liar at a public meeting in Timaru to discuss embattled businessman Allan Hubbard.

About 500 people crowded the Caroline Bay Hall in the South Canterbury town to hear John Key speak on Thursday.

Mr Key defended the Government putting the Timaru millionaire into statutory management and allowing the collapse of his company South Canterbury Finance last year.

Mr Key said he was told the company was in trouble as soon as he became prime minister in 2008 and that the Government worked for months to save the struggling finance company.

He told the meeting he likes Allan Hubbard and putting him into statutory management was not a personal attack.

However, supporters of Mr Hubbard say Mr Key is confusing the South Canterbury Finance and Aorangi Securities situations, and is not telling the full truth.

One supporter, Kieran Trass, accused Mr Key of not telling the whole truth and treating Mr Hubbard badly.

"When I see an old man get rolled and robbed and accused of fraud when in fact he's one of the most honourable men in the country, I'm concerned."

Mr Key says all the details surrounding the collapse of South Canterbury Finance and the statutory management of Allan Hubbard will be revealed in the fullness of time.

The Serious Fraud Office is continuing to investigate Mr Hubbard.

Mr Hubbard could not attend the meeting as he was having dialysis treatment, and did not want to be interviewed by Radio New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Timaru Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wendy Smith says economic confidence has returned to the town, which took a battering after the collapse of the finance company.

Mrs Smith says banks have filled the gap and Timaru is back on its feet.