High NOon



The cartoon is from Stuff.

And more payments from the Spencer Trust to New Zealand First have been revealed.

But they still owe us


Some of the money donated  to New Zealand First went to pay back the $158,000 the party mis-spent at the last election.

The mysterious big-money donation that spurred Winston Peters’ infamous “no” press conference was $80,000 and went towards helping to put right New Zealand First’s wrongful spending at the last election.

But exactly whose $80,000 it is remains hidden behind the Spencer Trust – the entity already exposed as host to donations from Sir Robert Jones and the Vela brothers.

The money was paid to NZ First last December and the Herald understands it went towards the $158,000 the party should have refunded to the taxpayer after the Auditor-General found it had wrongfully spent. NZ First gave the sum to charity instead.

The donation is now likely to be investigated by police as NZ First breached the law by not declaring it to the Electoral Commission as required with all donations over $10,000.

Oh the irony – the donation which is started all the trouble, was meant to pay back money which should not have been spent in the first place, and still hasn’t gone back to parliamentary services so the party is still in debt to the tax payer.

And of course until the party does settle its debt to us, every cent it spends on campaigning is our cent, and tells us that New Zealand First thinks getting re-elected is more imortant than repaying the tax payers’ money it should not have spent in the first place.

Trust gave to NZ First


TV3 has been given an extract from the Spencer Trust’s records which show Sir Robert Jones’ $25,000 donation did go to New Zealand First.

Grant Currie one of the Trust’s three trustees said its sole purpose was to receive donations from NZ First supporters and pass them to the party.

The Trust was formed in August 2005 – its intention was to channel money from donors to New Zealand First.

Its bank statement shows the first payment made into the trust was from Tirohanga Holdings Limited, the company of which Sir Bob Jones is a majority shareholder.

He gave $25,000 on the 18th of August 2005.

The statement shows that money along with another anonymous $25,000 donation was paid to New Zealand First less than a month later, on the 7th of September.

“If the allegation is that Mr Jones’ donation didn’t go where he intended it to then it completely refutes that allegation,” says Currie.

Currie would not talk about the blacked out donations – saying they were made on a confidential basis.

But Act MP Rodney Hide says the blacked out donations are more evidence the SFO should be investigating – because those donations, and Jones’s, were never declared to the electoral commission by New Zealand First.

“The whole trust now needs to be broken open by the serious fraud office and looked at because it’s clearly a device to break the law. These monies have never been declared as required by the law,” says Hide.

The Electoral Commission has confirmed no payments over $10,000 were declared by the New Zealand First Party in 2005 – a technical breach of electoral law.

But New Zealand First cannot be prosecuted for it now  – the window closes if the alleged crime is not investigated within 6 months.

There would have been nothing wrong about the donations had they been declared – and had Winston Peters not built his political career on his opposition to secret donations.

It is too late to act on any breach of the electoral law, but there is no statute of limitations on accusations of hypocricy.

If it’s good enough for the Chinese …


On the day that Rodney Hide  says he has given new evidence to the Serious Fraud Office about Winston Peters and the select committee investigation into scampi, Jim Hopkins suggests he could emulate the Chinese at the Olympic opening ceremony and employ a little digital enhancement:

Suppose, for example, you’re Winston Peters, beset with allegations of malfeasance and baubletude. With a click of the mouse, you could computer-enhance the Spencer Trust (complete with receipts for Bob Jones) leaving it bathed in a celestial glow of Presbyterian rectitude.

Too many questions too few answers


Another day but still no answers to the qeustions about donations to NZ First and its leader.

The Dominion reports: Would that be acceptable for any other Minister, or any other MP responsible to her?

Five days after NZ First leader Winston Peters promised to return to New Zealand and answer questions about donations to the enigmatic Spencer Trust in an “orderly fashion”, its purpose and funding remain secret.

 At a 45-minute meeting yesterday with Prime Minister Helen Clark, Mr Peters gave an assurance that he and NZ First had done nothing illegal. Miss Clark’s chief of staff, Heather Simpson, Mr Peters’ lawyer and a NZ First staffer also attended the session.

It appears even Miss Clark remains in the dark over how the trust operates; she told Parliament yesterday Mr Peters’ word was good enough for her.

That wouldn’t be enough for any other MP responsible to her let alone a Minister.

The Herald notes another day, another promise.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters insists that there is a “massive” difference between his party getting funding from corporate donors via secret trusts and other parties getting it. He won’t say what, but is promising to spell it out in Parliament today.

But he failed in Parliament yesterday to give answers about Sir Robert Jones’ $25,000 donation to the secret Spencer Trust in 2005, despite having promised during the weekend that he would.

Sir Robert yesterday would not rule out calling in the police if he did not get a satisfactory response about what happened to his money.

Outside the House, Mr Peters was asked what the difference was between his party getting large donations from corporate donors via secret trusts and other parties getting it.

Mr Peters said the difference was “massive”, but that the reporters were not capable of understanding it. He said he would explain it today.

Another Tui moment from the master of manipulation, but manipulation is not acceptable for a Minister.

If there is ever a time we should be grateful that we are a tiny nation on the edge of the world it is now. Imagine what this behaviour from a Minister of Foreign Affairs would do to our reputation as a country relatively free from corruption if other countries noticed or cared.

Who do we believe?


TV1 news showed Winston Peters at the press conference at which he said he’d never asked Sir Robert Jones for money.

Sir Bob has just been on Closeup saying Peters asked him for money – in his words “hit me up for 50 grand” and that Roger McLay from Peters’ office came to pick up the cheque.

Over at Keeping Stock Inventroy 2 was watching Campbell Live on TV3 where Peters said the cheque was given to the Spencer Trust, not his party, followed by Sir Bob saying that the donation was to New Zealand First.

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