If United’s Wrong NZ First is Worse


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.

Paying it back would be sensible


Rawdon Christie  has just asked Peter Dunne when United Future is going to pay back the taxpayers’ money they wrongly (and illegally until Labour, United, The Greens and NZ First changed the law to make what was illegal, legal) spent before the 2005 election.

His answer was that they were paying it back as fast as they can and after pushing by Christie admitted they’d paid back back more than half what they owe.

A Google serach found that in March Dunne told Gavin Kinght : to date, over half [of the approximately $63,000] has been repaid, and we are making regular payments to the Parliamentary Service to clear the balance as soon as possible”

That is remarkedly similar to Dunne’s answer on Agenda today. If we take him at his word, and I have no reason not to, then United must now owe about $30,000 or less. So why don’t they just pay it all back? 

 This is a really bad look for any political party, it is especially bad for one led by the Minister of Revenue. 

A party has to have a minimum of 500 members to be registered so even if that’s all United has it would be $60 a member. The Party has has two MPs, Dunne and Judy Turner who could follow Labour’s example and dip in to their own pockets (as they may have already done for what has been repaid so far). Whether they get the money from members the MPs or fundraising, it would be sensible to repay it all now. 

If they don’t, every cent they spend on their campaign will be a cent they owe to the taxpayer thereby compounding their original wrong doing. It also gives rise to the question: why would anyone vote for a party which believes spending its money getting back into parliament is more important than paying back what it owes to the taxpayer?

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