Closed and opaque

06/12/2019

Didn’t Jacinda Ardern promise to lead an open and transparent government?

That promise has been broken again:

Labour’s decision today to block the request of former New Zealand First President Lester Gray and former Treasurer Colin Forster is the Government covering up serious allegations of financial impropriety of its coalition partner New Zealand First, National’s Electoral Law spokesperson Dr Nick Smith says.

“There was no good reason for blocking these senior New Zealand First officials from being heard at the Justice Select Committee on electoral law. They sought the hearing because they had serious concerns about the failure to disclose major donations, unauthorised campaign expenditure and concerns over the New Zealand First Foundation.

No-one with any knowledge of running a political party and election campaign could believe that a party could do that on membership subs, members’ fund raising and donations under the disclosable amount alone.

If the way the NZ First Foundation has been used to funnel donations is within the law then the law must change.

“They were fearful of speaking publically with threats of legal action and the Justice Committee provided a safe place for them to disclose their knowledge of what has occurred.

“Labour is part of a cover up in denying the Committee and New Zealand the opportunity to hear their concerns.

“These issues in New Zealand First go to the heart of our democracy and the result of Election 2017. New Zealanders have a right to know who were the financial backers of the Party that was decisive in the 2017 Election outcome.

We also have a right to see if any dots can be joined between those backers and NZ First policy.

“New Zealand First was the only Party that did not disclose the source of any donations and it had 10 times the value of anonymous donations of any other Party at Election 2017. It has also been revealed since that $500,000 was secretly contributed to the New Zealand First Foundation.

“Labour’s denial to allow senior New Zealand First officials to submit to the Justice Select Committee makes a joke of the Government’s commitment to be the most open and transparent Government ever.

“There could be nothing more important than the transparency of the source of funding for the Party that ultimately determined the Government.

“This is deja vu of the New Zealand First funding scandal that led to the defeat of the last Labour Government. Labour has learnt nothing and is continuing to cover for New Zealand First’s shady dealings.”

The failure to deliver open and transparent government joins a growing list of this administration’s record of rhetoric unmatched by action.

This government is closed and opaque and its MPs’ veto of  NZ First’s former office holders to be heard is another brick in the wall between its promises and delivery.


Morals prompt NZ First’s president’s resignation

04/10/2019

Morals were the reason behind the sudden resignation of NZ First president Lester Gray:

New Zealand First party president Lester Gray has quit the party, citing his refusal to sign off financial reports for ‘moral’ reasons. 

A resignation letter reveals Gray took his stand against signing the party’s 2019 reports with a claim he has been kept in the dark over party expenditure and donations, leaving him unable to put his name to them with confidence. . .

In Gray’s resignation letter, obtained by Stuff, he raises issues around communication with senior party officials and uncertainty over financial dealings.

“I refuse to sign off the 2019 Financial Reports with the information I have been provided,” he wrote.

“As President, the limited exposure I have had to Party donations and expenditure leaves me in a vulnerable position.

“This type of operation does not align with my moral and business practice values, and I am therefore not able to support the Party any longer.”

Gray also stated there was “insufficient communication and support from senior members of the Party for me to effectively function as the President“. . .

Is anyone surprised?

A friend with shares in a race horse received a letter before the last election seeking a contribution towards a generous donation to New Zealand First.

Was any donation like this, or from fishing and forestry interests which benefit from its policies, declared? No, and time after time, this party is the only one in parliament that never declares any sizable donations.

It isn’t so much a party as a principality presided over by Winston Peters whose word is law.

NZ First presents an ongoing risk to our reputation for openness, transparency and, relatively, low rates of corruption.

It is a carbuncle on the hide of democracy. Dare we hope that this news might prompt someone to lance it?


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