The NBR asks – Will Horan drop the hammer?
It starts by listing the happenings which have made this a horror year for Winston Peters then goes on to say:
Affable TVNZ presenter turned failed MP Brendan Horan could hold the country’s fate in his hands — or at least the outcome of the next election.
Mr Horan tells NBR he’s still trying to decide whether to push ahead with a complaint over Winston Peters’ apparent failure to disclose his financial interest in racehorse Bellazeel.
Having called for Judith Collins’s head for failing to fully comply with her obligations under the Register of MPs’ Pecuniary Interests, it would be untenable for Mr Peters to stay on if found to have committed the same offence (in reality, of course, Mr Peters would claim conspiracy or some other excuse, but the embarrassment and awkwardness could well push his party under the 5% threshold).
Registrar Sir Maarten Wevers, who oversees the registry of MP’s financial interests, says he cannot look into the matter of his own account. Standing Orders require a formal complaint to be made by an MP.
And Mr Horan is the only one likely to lay the potentially career-ending complaint. . . .
If he’s got grounds for a complaint he’s honour-bound to make one.
If he hasn’t the very slight hopes he might have had of retaining a seat in parliament will be dashed.
And on the face of things, there’s a pretty good case for Sir Maarten to at least have a poke around.
Mr Peters has defended his non-disclosure, saying his interest in the racehorse was a small, short-term syndicated lease, purchased in a charity auction in 2008. The NZ First leader says the lease has since expired and Bellazeel — sired by famous racehorse Zabeel — is no longer running.
According to TVNZ’s report, Mr Peters told reporters earlier this week, “I did have an ownership for a short time but it’s been out to pasture for years.”
Yet NZ Racing records that Bellazeel raced as recently as January.
In fact, the five-year-old bay mare — sired by the famous Zabeel — has had quite a chipper time of it over the past few months, with two wins and a third from seven starts in the 2013/14 season, earning prize-money of $20,175.
In all, Bellazeel has raced 15 times and won three races, winning $31,575.
And Mr Peters has been fuzzy on timing, his exit from the syndicate is presumably a recent development; NZ Racing still lists him as a co-owner.
What’s holding him back?
So what’s stopping Mr Horan pushing ahead with a complaint? . . .
He made the first accusations under parliamentary privilege but then went too far with fresh ones without that protection:
He went on Radio NZ and, in a live interview, made new accusations against Mr Peters regarding consultants and spending.
Mr Peters turned his lawyers on RNZ.
The state broadcaster posted an apology to its website the same day, which it also read out multiple times on air.
Having taken his attack a step too far, Mr Horan now seems to have over-compensated in the other direction. . .
There is no downside for him taking the complaint to the registrar if he’s got grounds to do so.
He has to act, providing he’s got facts to back it up.
If he doesn’t he’ll play right into Peters’ hands because it will look like the allegations he made were baseless.