More hypocrisy


Barry Soper told Larry Williams on Newstalk ZB yesterday that the police were waiting for legal advice before releasing a report on their investigations into New Zealand First leader Winston Peters. But Soper wasn’t expecting charges to be laid.

The report still hasn’t been released but if it does clear Peters it will be overshadowed by yet another report on his hypocricy.

Phil Kitchen reports on evidence that NZ First and its leader took donations from the Velas who were also paying party staffer Ross Meurant who was helping develop racing, fishing and tax policies.

A related story tells of Peters demanding a helicopter  from the Velas.

If nothing else this is further proof of hypocrisy in the man who scrambled up the polticial ladder on rungs created by his repeated railings against the influence of big business.

It will only take one in five   20 voters to get Peters and his party into parliament. Once he’s there a Labour led government, supported by the Greens and Jim Anderton would allow him back in government, almost certainly as a minister.

Jeanette Fitzsimons said during the wee party leaders’ debate she’d find it difficult working with him, but neither she nor her party have said they won’t work with him.

So a vote for any of the parties on the left is a vote for Peters to be a Minister because they are all prepared to put politics before principle.

Only John Key has put principle first by ruling Peters and his party out of cabinet and government he leads.

We can choose not to vote for Peters and his party, but that might not keep them out of parliament.

We can choose to vote for a National led government and be certain it will keep them out of government.

Just one more donation?


Winston Peters has found a $40,000 donation which must have slipped his mind when he made his last return for the register of pecuniary interests.

Keeping Stock wonders what Helen Clark will do now she’s faced with yet another black mark against her Minister with Baubles but No Work.

Will it matter to her that as Kiwiblog  points out, the money almost certainly came from the Vela family which has big interests in racing – the portfolio held by Peters and to which extra taxpayers’ money has been given under his watch?

Will she wonder if a donation of $40,000 slipped his mind whether anything else of importance has too? Or will she think that it didn’t slip his mind  at all, and that it was a deliberate failure by him to make an honest declaration?

Update: Roarprawn posts on this here  and suggests the PM owes the SFO an apology here.

On the verge of a trifecta


Dene Mackenzie says that Winston Peters is on the verge of an unhappy trifecta:

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters last night proved the old adage of be careful what you wish for, when the Serious Fraud Office took him at his word.

After Mr Peters dared the SFO to either lay charges against him or shut up and go away, SFO director Grant Liddell announced he would conduct an investigation into donations made to NZ First.

He would particularly investigate allegations that funds donated to the party by Sir Robert Jones and Vela family interests did not reach their intended destination.

Mr Peters had accused the SFO of “creeping around back doors”, dropping hints and providing media speculation but not finding any evidence of wrongdoing or illegality on his part.

“I am prepared to wait on the court steps for them and, if they don’t turn up, they can go away for ever,” he said.

Well, the SFO did turn up and Mr Peters now faces another major challenge to his political career.

There have already been plenty.

He has been sacked by two previous prime ministers and now, as Minister of Racing, he must know he is facing the trifecta.

Mr Peters will this morning meet Prime Minister Helen Clark, who is under increasing pressure to sack her minister or at least stand him down while the investigation is under way.

Other ministers have been “gone by lunchtime” for lesser offences.

Had any other MPs faced the allegations Peters does he’d have been the first to call for their resignations. He could have stepped down with dignity intact until the privileges committee and SFO investigations are completed. But because he refused to jump he’ll have to be pushed.

He will then be on familiar territory as the martyred outsider. He will still have some supporters who think he’s hard done by, but it’s the SFO not the court of public opinion which will decide his fate.

He helped racing, racing helped him


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

He never wrote it, they never saw it


Jim Hopkins  has uncovered the letter that was never written.

It’s worth reading in full, but I especially enjoyed this bit:

… However, certain wildly accurate reports in The Harold suggest that you are wonderfully generous folk for whom a $9999.99 donation is a mere drop in the anonymous bucket. And it should be my anonymous bucket, Sirs and Madams. Yes! Have you any idea how much it costs to buy a vote up here in the City of Snails now that it’s the 78th-most expensive metropolis in the whole entire world?

 Thought not. Suffice to say, it’s become increasingly difficult for me to be the brave and fearless leader of a well-known political party poised on the brink of extinction.

But one anonymous contribution, one itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, payment (shall we say $100,000?) would change all that, Sirs and Madams.

It would give this brave and fearless leader the funds he needs to fight his fearless fight – and reduce the risk of extinction. Look, we are men and women of the world, you and I. We know the rules – and how to break them.

Accordingly, I have a lawyer, Mr X, who tells me nothing.

And I, commensurate with my Ministerial responsibilities and duties as a brave and fearless leader, make sure I ask him nothing too!!!

That way, as soon as you’ve given me a cheque, I don’t know you’ve given me a cheque!

Instead, what happens is I might say to Mr X, “Gosh. I’ve got a brave and fearless legal challenge coming up. I’d better ring McDonald’s to see if they need more Crew.” Then, without telling me, Mr X would ring some of my political chums, we’ll call them Messrs Y, who might also be keen to see my challenge succeed and Messrs Y would ring a very generous anonymous overseas billionaire and the billionaire, let’s say, Mr O, would send a cheque to Mr X who would say, “Golly, where did that come from?” and put it in the bank.

Best of all, whenever people ask me if I had got any money from Mr O and I hold up a brave and fearless sign saying NO, Mr X would never ring up and say, “You should put a ‘k’ at the start and a ‘w’ at the end and an emphatic ‘I don’t’ in front of the lot!!!”

Do I make myself clear? Of course not! We speak in riddles here. And deal in shadows. And you can be my shadows, Sirs and Madams.

I can add nothing but the suggestion you  read the rest.

Peters digging own hole with Muldoon strategy


The ODT points out that Winston Peters is following Rob Muldoon’s strategy with critics.

… get in first with the verbal punches. If this does not work, try shouting down your opponents. Failing this, deny everything. Finally, ignore your accusers.

Winston Peters, who imbibed his political skills at Sir Robert’s knee, is trying a combination of all four strategies in the worst crisis facing his New Zealand First party in its 15 years.

So far, we have had a succession of embarrassing – but unacknowledged – retreats.

The refusal to repay the $158,000 owed to parliamentrary services, which has not been cancelled by donations of that amount to charity; the repeated denials over the $100,000 donation from Owen Glenn to pay his legal expenses; and now allegations of multiple donations to New Zealand First from the Vela family who are associated with fishing and racing.

Perhaps a majority of voters could not care less, but in the highly charged atmosphere of an election year, and at a time when many people are personally struggling, the familiar accusations of political hypocrisy and thoughts of a “plague on all their houses” will tend to stick.

Unfortunately for Mr Peters, he is left looking more hypocritical by the hour for this is, after all, the man who left the National Party to set up his own on the basis of “cleaning up” politics, ever ready to mount his white charger in the defence of hard-pressed “rorted” taxpayers, and to accuse every other political party of being funded by “secret donations”, of having “slush funds”, and therefore of being the captives of “big business”.

He has spent so much of his career talking about the need for honesty, integrety and transparency but has failed to uphold the high standards he expects of everyone else.

The chief accusation of the latest reports involving multiple donations for amounts just under $10,000 from 1999 to 2003 are serious because donations of more than $10,000 or multiple donations of smaller amounts from the same company or person in one year have to be declared under our electoral law.

They may well have been so declared – NZ First says all money received is accounted for and audited – but not declaring donations is a serious matter, as the Prime Minister pointed out.

Complaints to the appropriate authorities, such as the Auditor-general, registrar of pecuniary interests, or Inland Revenue, would be investigated if such allegations could be substantiated.

The Glenn donation, said to have been used for paying Mr Peters’ legal costs, might also fall into the category of needing to be declared in the ministers’ register of pecuniary interests.

Mr Peters holds the offices as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Racing and Associate Minister for Senior Citizens outside the Cabinet, in a support arrangement with the Clark Government.

Although that might appear to allow the Government room to distance itself from any fall-out, should the allegations have substance and damage further Mr Peters’ substantially diminished credibility, the Prime Minister must act.

She has publicly made a cautious caveat: “Until I think it’s seriously affecting the job he is doing, and I’ve stressed he’s done that job with integrity, I don’t have a concern.”

Didn’t she same something similar about David Benson-Pope?

In the meantime, the Speaker has received a complaint from Act New Zealand leader Rodney Hide that Mr Peters should have declared the Glenn donation, and complaints have already been laid by members of the public with the Electoral Commission and Inland Revenue over the donation, but these may be outside the time limit on complaints.

The National Party’s attitude is enigmatic and scarcely honourable: on the one hand it is busy condemning the Clark Government for supporting him as a minister and coalition supporter; on the other it is not ruling out dealing with NZ First should it be in a position to form a government.

That sadly is the political reality of MMP.

In private, Labour will be concerned about the way this affair could eventually damage it.

Miss Clark risks the prospect of being accused of double standards in the way she treats ministers tainted by scandals: unless Mr Peters can provide a more convincing explanation than he has so far for the Glenn and other donations, his case will inevitably be compared with the memory-losses of David Benson-Pope.

It is drawing a long bow, but the risk cannot wholly be excluded of Mr Peters being invited to relinquish his ministerial portfolios – especially Foreign Affairs – and retaliating by withdrawing his party’s support for the Government.

At that point an early election would be an inevitability, and should Mr Peters then be looking for another moral panic to attract the attention of voters in the election campaign he would need look no further than his own.

In the meantime, he is in a hole entirely of his own making.

And he’s still digging.

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