He helped racing, racing helped him

July 27, 2008

Tony Wall’s Sunday Star Times feature explains how Winston Peters helped the racing industry and how racing people helped him.

You can read the full story here  but this summary is not on line:

What Racing Has Done For Winston:

* Vela family, with interests in NZ Bloodstock at Karaka and Pencarrow Stud in the Waikato, reportedly donated at least $150,000 in amounts under $10,000 between 1999 and 2003 to NZ First.

* Wealthy breeder Sir Patrick Hogan, of Cambridge Stud, launched his own campaign to get NZ First back into parliament, spending thousands of his own money on newspaper advertsiements. The racing industry also backed the party through its Fair Tax campaign.

* Billionaire expat Owen Glenn, a racehorse owner, donated $100,000 to NZ First’s electoral challenge of the 2005 result in Tauranga.

What Winston Has Done For Racing:

* Reduced totalisator duty to 4% from a headline rate of 20%, pumping around $32 million a year into the industry.

* Decreased the tax write-down period for stallions and broodmares, encouraging more people to buy racehorses for tax advantages and potentially benefitting breeders by millions.

*This year’s Budget allocated a further $19m for a co-sponsorship scheme over a three-year period to enable “substantially higher prize money offered by the creme de la creme of New Zealand races.”

I don’t have a problem with people donating to political parties providing they are decalred as required by electoral law. But New Zealand First has declared few donations while the party and its leader have been staunch critics of the influence of big business and anonymous donors in politics.

The more we learn the more it looks like gross hypocrisy


Welfare for Families to stay

July 27, 2008

National will not change Welfare for Families if it’s in government.

John Key said the decision was made to give some certainty to those receiving assistance.

“A large number of New Zealand families get Working for Families.  National understands this. I know it is particularly tough out there for families with kids. These are families with mums and dads who are working long hours, trying to get by on a modest wage in the absence of tax cuts under this Labour Government. We don’t want to make life more difficult for them.

“While National has long been concerned about how far up the income scale Working for Families stretches, a careful analysis of possible changes at the higher income levels showed that it was not worthwhile making them.

“I have long held concerns, in addition, about high effective marginal tax rates acting as a disincentive to people under WFF, but we are confident that this issue will be addressed by our tax package.

“As I have always said, I am interested in what works.  National acknowledges that Working for Families payments are an important part of the income of many families.

“Despite concerns we hold about the system, I consider that offering people certainty is much more important in these tough economic times.”

I don’t like the idea of middle and upper income people receiving welfare but philosophical purity doesn’t win elections. And the comment about high marginal tax rates being addressed by National’s tax package gives me some hope because families keeping more of what they earn won’t need extra by way of a benefit.


Feliz cumpleaños Kiwiblog

July 27, 2008

Feliz cumpleaños to Kiwiblog which turns five today.

  • 10,702 posts
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The numbers are impressive – but it’s not just the quantity of posts, it’s the quality which is remarkable. In the blogosphere where blogs come and go, and some are no more than vehicles for incoherent and/or bigotted rants; Kiwiblog is consistently rational and reasoned.


Labour preparing to lose

July 27, 2008

What is the significance of the rash of Labour appointments in the last month?

Gerry Brownlee listed 96 since June 20 in a press release last weekend, and The Herald had a story yesterday about Labour stacking the NZ Transport Agency with political allies.

It could be normal business, but it might also signal they’ve accpeted they’re going to lose the election so they’re doing what they can for their friends while they can.

Bill Ralston  points to another sign they’re preparing for a loss:

Labour strategists have become dangerously obsessed with trying to demolish Key personally and portray his party as having a secret agenda to sell everything and return us all to some kind of capitalist serfdom.

It is role-reversal. Labour has adopted the negative approach usually taken by opposition parties, allowing National to take a more publicly palatable positive approach to the country’s future.

It is like Labour has looked six months ahead and has already decided it’s the opposition – and maybe it is right.

Fingers crossed.


Only a fool would pick a fight with Bob

July 27, 2008

If Winston Peters has any personal insight he’ll already be regretting picking a fight with Sir Bob Jones who has said he will write to Wayne Peters asking what happened to the $25,000 he wrote for the Spencer Trust in 2005.

Peters has said he has “no involvement with that trust” administered by his brother, but former NZ First staff member Rex Widerstrom told the Herald on Sunday he was prepared to swear an affidavit stating the trust was set up around the time of the Winebox Inquiry to funnel anonymous donations from people who wanted to support Peters’ various legal battles.

Peters might also ask himself why he questioned Sir Bob’s memory:

Despite Peters’ claims of a failing memory, Sir Robert said that he recalled the background to the donation very clearly.

“There was a lot of drinking and when we got round to the subject [of the donation] there was a tremendous argument and I said ‘Winston, I’m not giving you anything’. Finally to get him off my back I said ‘you can have $25,000 on the basis of friendship’,” Sir Robert said.

Asked if he believed it was plausible Peters knew nothing of the Spencer Trust, he added: “Of course he [Peters] did… [But] there was no bloody mention of the Spencer Trust. The money was to go to his party.

“I don’t tell bloody lies. Why am I in the firing line for an act of benevolence? I won’t tolerate it.”

It would be difficult to find any reasons why Sir Bob and his staff would lie. There are plenty of reasons why Peters might – starting with a political career based in part on his attacks on big business involvement and anonymous donations to political parties.


Rice visit sideshow to Peters’ circus

July 27, 2008

Tracy Watkins concludes her comments on Condoleezza Rice’s visit with these observations:

Peters might have hoped he would not be asked about it today in front of Rice – well, that was never going to happen after the farce played out yesterday at a press conference at which Mr Peters was supposed to clear up the issues around a donation by millionaire Sir Bob Jones.

Peters blustered and obfuscated for 40 minutes, giving journalists no alternative but to put the issue to him today. To do otherwise would have looked like we accepted Peters’ position yesterday.

Silly man, the more he blusters the deeper the hole he’s digging for himself.

It will be interesting to see now whether the PM fronts up to reporters after her press conference with Rice, as has tended to be her practice.

Given the constraints on our ability to ask questions of her and Rice at their formal press conference – media are allowed just four questions in total, two to foreign journalists and two to New Zealand media – you would expect her to come down after and give us a separate briefing. It’s something she has often done in the past after all.

If she refuses then we will be entitled to draw our own conclusions; that she is still weighing up the fall out from the Peters presser yesterday and isn’t ready to rush out yet in fulsome support.

The only rush should be for a full, independent inquiry.


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