While we’re asking why anyone would vote for United Future if they spend money on their campaign until they fully repay the taxpayers’ money they wrongly spent before the last election, we need to be even tougher on NZ First.
United might not agree with Auditor General Kevin’s Brady’s ruling that it wrongly used public funds in 2005, but it has accepted his ruling and the need to repay the debt it owes. NZ First not only refuses to admit it did anything wrong, it won’t accept the AG’s ruling nor has it any intention of repaying the money.
Leader Winston Peters’ scheme, to donate to the Starship Foudnation the $158,000 the AG found it spent illegally instead of repaying it, went sour when the Foundation rejected the cheque. Since then he’s said the money is going to other charities but refuses to say which ones because of the bad publicity over the Starship donation.
If NZ First wishes to make a donation to a chairty, providing the party’s rules don’t preclude this, it is entitled to do so. Some who given to the party to further its political aims may question why their money is going to a charity, or charities, instead but that is between them and the party.
It is however, taxpayers’ business that this party, led by the Minister of Foreign Affiars, is making no attempt to repay the money it wrongly spent three years ago.
Peters’ is right that the self-serving change of law means that spending is no longer illegal; but retrospectively legal or not it was wrong then and still is now. Until the party admits this and pays it back every cent up to $158,000 which NZ First spends on its campaign is a slap in the face for taxpayers because until the debt is fully repaid each of those cents ought to put back in the public purse instead.