Archive for July, 2008

Cullen and Iti

July 31st, 2008 at 3:25 pm by David Farrar

I’ve stolen this image from NZPA. It thought people would like to look at it, while they have recalled for them these quotes:

Hon Bill English: Can the Prime Minister promise the House that tonight at the opening of the Auckland business school she will sit with Owen Glenn and allow herself to be photographed with him?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Yes, but I can assure him she will not be hongi-ing Tame Iti at the same time.

Instead Michael gets to do the hongi.

Trevor Mallard: How can he, when he knows someone is facing very, very serious charges under the Arms Act-and that is a matter of public record-put himself in a position where he is seen to endorse the mana of that individual by greeting him in the way he did? I cannot believe that any responsible politician in New Zealand would endorse Tame Iti in the way that John Key did at Waitangi. It was absolutely wrong, and I think it shows-and I have to be very careful with my words here-that he lacks what is necessary to be a strong leader who is prepared to stand up for his principles and stand up for what is right for New Zealand. That is what he showed us when he put himself in the position where he endorsed Tame Iti in that way.

So Trevor is saying Michael Cullen is not a responsible politician? And that Cullen endorses Iti? ANd that Cullen is not a strong leader and Cullen does not stand up for his principles and Cullen does not stand up for what is right for NZ. Wow Trevor is very harsh on Cullen.

Mallard again: First of all, I ask John Key the same question I asked him last week. It is a question that I will ask him every time I have the opportunity. Why did he not have the courage to turn his back on Tame Iti when Tame Iti approached him? We expect someone of principle, someone who aspires to be the Prime Minister, to say “I will not cuddle up to someone who is charged with serious firearm offences.” We expect someone like him to have the courage to front up in these matters, or, in this case, to not front up-to turn his back, to walk away, and to say it is not appropriate to meet with someone like that, to hongi, to give endorsement, and to give approval. Every single week that we have the opportunity to do so we will ask that question, until John Key gets off his backside, gets into this House, and answers that question

So will Trevor also ask this every week of Michael? Why didn’t Michael Cullen have the courage to turn his back and walk away instead of cuddling him?

Hon DARREN HUGHES : I seek leave to table a photograph of John Key hongi-ing with Tame Iti, who is currently on bail and facing serious firearm charges.

And Darren jumps in also. I hope Darren will also seek leave to table the photo of Michael Cullen and John Key.

Satire from Pound

July 31st, 2008 at 3:15 pm by David Farrar

Simon Pound does an excellent satirical guest post at Public Address:

John Key has announced the adoption of yet another flagship Labour policy – having a female leader. In a one-page policy briefing released today he stated that under a National government he would undergo gender realignment to have what it takes to lead the Country.

Heh. Excellent.

ACT leader Rodney Hide could not be reached for comment having lost his cellphone while attempting to jump a shark on a jetski.

Ouch. That is so biting for those who remember Happy Days.

Green Party co-leader Russell Norman welcomed the move:

“In our party we have for a long time believed that a person’s sex was an important consideration when selecting an able leader. Our constitution requires it. We are glad that National are starting to adopt our sound policies also.”

This is true. Because Sue Bradford does not have a penis, she was ineligible to replace Rod Donald as a co-leader.

Field’s trial in April 2009

July 31st, 2008 at 2:55 pm by David Farrar

TV3 reported that former Labour Minister and MP Taito Phillip Field’s trial for corruption in April 2009.

Field is facing 12 bribery and corruption charges and 25 charges of attempting to obstruct or pervert the course of justice.

Latest from Dom Post

July 31st, 2008 at 2:50 pm by David Farrar

I’ve been in meetings up until now, so only catching up with the latest from the Dom Post.

First we have the undisclosed $20,000 deposit in 1999. If the deposit was all from the same donor it has to be declared. Now possibly it was made up from a number of different donors. The Dom Post doesn’t specify – I assume they may have more than they have published to date.

Then we have the wonderful audio file of Phil Kitchin phoning Winston for comment. The whole clip is 12 seconds long of which six seconds is the phone ringing, three seconds of Kitchin saying who he is and then three seconds of Winston saying

“Phil, I told you I’m not talking to a lying wanker like you. See you.”

and hanging up.

They also have a story on the explanation Peters had walking into the House:

“Let me just say, any moron who knew anything about political parties and election expenses would have known exactly what that was about.”

Vernon Small is unimpressed with the bluster:

There are signs in his behaviour in the past week that he is beginning to believe his own legend, that all he has to do is bluster, attack the messenger and flash his smile to rise above any and all allegations, even those of hypocrisy. He cannot and he has not. …

Of course, the trust fund, and Mr Peters’ refusal to engage with any questions about it, is not an issue of ministerial responsibility but is one of his own credibility with his supporters – but still an area of legitimate interest to the media.

Not accusations, but legitimate questions that deserve answers from an elected representative so the jury in the court of public opinion can come to a verdict.

Labour’s delay of the confidence and supply vote from today until next week is not a coincidence. There are growing concerns in Labour about how their final weeks leading up to an election campaign could be tainted by association with Peters’ tactics.

If the SFO do decide to investigate (and in 2002 they investigated National over similar allegations), then Clark will be under real pressure to suspend Peters. He would react very badly to being suspended and this is why the timing of the confidence vote is increasingly important.

My 100th National Party conference

July 31st, 2008 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Tomorrow is the start of National’s 72nd annual conference. I’ll be in attendance blogging from it from Friday to Sunday.

By coincidence it is also my 100th National Party conference. I suspect I have attended more National Party conferences than almost anyone else, apart from Sir George Chapman!

The reason for this is that most people attend at most two conferences a year – their local regional one, and maybe the national conference. However during my years in Parliament I often accompanied the Leader to all five regional conference plus the national conference. It was actually quite exhausting working five weekends in a row for the regional conferences – basically you work for 40 days in a row without a day off. The only four people who tended to attend all five were the Leader, President, General Manager and myself and God were we glad when they were over. During those eight years we had four leaders, four presidents and four general managers so I was the one constant!

Since 1986 I have attended 9 Northern Region conferences, 9 Central NI Conferences, 19 Lower NI conferences, 9 Canterbury/Westland conferences, 13 Southern conferences and 17 Young Nationals conferences. Plus including this one about to start, 24 National conferences, which makes the total exactly 100.

I reckon that deserves a cake or something!

The myth that the Electoral Finance Act would stop what NZ First does

July 30th, 2008 at 4:47 pm by David Farrar

Many on the left (and some journalists who should know better) have been pushing a theme (started by Helen) that all this nasty non-transparent stuff done by NZ First is due to the old Electoral Act, and could not happen under the Electoral Finance Act.

Now it is true the EFA does tighten up things in some areas, but it makes little difference to the three funding controversies that NZ First has had exposed. Let’s take them one by one.

The Owen Glenn $100,000 donation

As we now know, Owen Glenn donated $100,000 towards Winston’s legal bills – which made it effectively a donation to Winston personally as he would have had to pay $100,000 more if Glenn had not donated.

Now the Electoral Finance Act only deals with donations to parties, not to MPs personally.

So foreign billionaires could continue to make large donations to MPs, while seeking favours from them, and it would all be legal under the EFA, and there would be no requirement for it to be made public.

So the EFA in no way affects repeats of the Owen Glenn donation.

And here is the sad reality. The EFA probably makes such donations more likely and more common. If donations to parties have to be disclosed but donations to trusts which pay off bills for MPs do not have to be disclosed, then more and more donors may choose to donate to MPs personally instead of their parties.

And no the Register of Pecuniary Interests will not have much effect here either, if they do it through a trust.

The Vela $150,000 donations

Now what it appears the Vela did was make a series of $10,000 donations from different people and companies. Now surely this could not happen under the EFA?

Well yes it could. Every company and every adult is treated as a seperate donor under 21(2)

donor means a person who makes a donation

And even if the companies are all owned by the same individual, each is a separate donor as they are separate persons in a legal sense..

Now the EFA does have some provisions which tighten things up. For example if I have $30,000 I can’t give $10,000 to my secretary and $10,000 to my cleaner for them to donate to a party. If I supply the money to them for a donation, they need to disclose whom they are donating on behalf of under s 26(1).

But in the case of the Velas, each company and each adult has their own money so they can easily arrange to donate $50,000 or $100,000 in a year with none of it ever getting disclosed.

The Bob Jones $25,000 donation

As we know Bob paid $25,000 to the Spencer Trust, thinking it was going to NZ First. Now as the Spencer Trust was never disclosed as a donor itself, it is highly unlikely under the EFA Sir Bob would end up being listed as a donor.

The Spencer Trust may have made a series of anonymous $10,000 donations to NZ First under the old Electoral Act, and this would have been legal. They could still do this under the EFA but would have to make a series of $1,000 anonymous donations instead.

Under the EFA the Spencer Trust could donate $36,000 anonymously through the Electoral Commission to NZ First and not have this disclosed.

If the Spencer Tust pays expenses of behalf of Winston personally, then that is like the Owen Glenn donation and not something disclosed under the EA or EFA.

And even if the Spencer Trust pays for expenses of behalf of NZ First, then it is just as likely that would be illegal or legal under both the EA or EFA. Their definitions are pretty similiar. First the old EA, s214F:

party donation, in relation to a party registered under Part 4,-

(a) means a donation (whether of money or of the equivalent of money or of goods or services or of a combination of those things)-

(i) which is received by or on behalf of the party by any person or body of persons involved in the administration of the affairs of the party; and

(ii) which, either on its own or when aggregated with all other such donations made in the same year by the same person exceeds $10,000 in sum or value (inclusive of goods and services tax); and

(b) includes, where goods or services are provided to the party under a contract at 90% or less of their reasonable market value, the amount of the difference between the contractual price of the goods or services and the reasonable market value of those goods or services; but

(c) does not include the labour of any person which is provided to the party free of charge by that person;

So the old EA made clear donations include goods or services, and any discounting beyond 10%. And the EFA, s 21(2):

party donation means a donation (whether of money or of the equivalent of money or of goods or services or of a combination of those things) that is made to a party, or to any person or body of persons on behalf of the party who are involved in the administration of the affairs of the party, and-

(a) includes,-

(i) where goods or services are provided to a party, or to any person on the party’s behalf, under a contract or arrangement at a value less than their reasonable market value, the latter being a value which exceeds $1,000, the amount of the difference between the former value and the reasonable market value of those goods or services; and

(ii) where goods or services are provided by a party under a contract or arrangement at a value that is more than their reasonable market value, the amount of the difference between that value and the reasonable market value of those goods or services; and

(iii) where credit is provided to a party on terms and conditions substantially more favourable than the commercial terms and conditions prevailing at the time for the same or similar credit, the value to the party of those more favourable terms and conditions;

Some change and tightening up, but overall its is likely that the legality of how the Spencer Trust “assists” NZ First without disclosing it is a donor, is unchanged under the new law.

So don’t believe what Helen says about these are all problems of the old Electoral Act, and can’t happen under the Electoral Finance Act. Absolutely everything NZ First has been doing, could continue under the Electoral Finance Act. And in fact there is now a greater incentive for people to donate personally to MPs, rather than to their parties. And that would be a very bad thing indeed.

Winston’s fuller explanation

July 30th, 2008 at 4:05 pm by David Farrar

Winston has just spoken in the general debate. If the allegations were not so serious, it would be comical. He did not address a single issue of substance, but of course just attacked everyone. He basically said:

  • Informed Speaker in May 2005 of allegations now appearing in Dominion Post (I think this is re the scampi issue back then)
  • Said TVNZ has two investigators trying to dig up dirt on him.
  • Talked of how Bill Ralston at TVNZ hired Phil Kitchin, as is this is somehow sinister
  • Alleged that Phil Kitchin has misled Bob Jones in order to get a story
  • Said that he sacked Rex W in 1996 and Rex not credible as he chats to teenage girls online
  • Said that he was told at his mother’s funeral that there is a “pot of money” on offer for anyone who can dig up dirt on him
  • Referred to the media as brainless meerkats
  • Said that when he refuses to answer a stupid question, that is not a denial!

Remember how he said last week he would address the conflicts between what Bob Jones (and Professor Wright) said and what he has said. He hasn’t even attempted to do this.If this was meant to be a fuller explanation, I would hate to see a less full explanation.

In related news, Rodney Hide has laid a complaint with the Serious Fraud Office. It will be interesting to see if they decide to investigate. Considering they invesigated a similiar allegation against National in 2002, I can’t see how they can credibly not invesigate. That is not to say they will necessairly find illegal behaviour. Unless one actually knows what the Spencer Trust spends its money on, you can’t conclude on issues of legality.

Backbenches Tonight

July 30th, 2008 at 3:30 pm by David Farrar

The four MPs tonight are:

  1. Paula Bennett (National)
  2. Russell Fairbrother (Labour)
  3. Dail Jones (NZ First)
  4. Gordon Copeland (Kiwi Party)

The topics are

  1. Winston Peters and those financial contributions
  2. National promising to continue with Working for Families plus a tax cut
  3. The flying visit of Condeleezza Rice … we’re an “ally” now … what does that mean?

People wanting to attend in person should head down to the Backbencher pub between 8 and 8.30pm. It is broadcast on TVNZ7 just after 9 pm live.

I won’t be making it myself as a group of us are going to see the Batman movie tonight. I think this will become the highest grossing movie of all time – it has made US$452 million in less than a fortnight already!

PDT on the Internet

July 30th, 2008 at 2:17 pm by David Farrar

Internet policy people will be interested in the interview the Herald did with Peter Dengate-Thrush, the NZers who chairs ICANN – the global allocator of domain names and IP addresses. Some extracts:

In terms of safety is the web getting better or worse?

“The internet is neutral about these things – it’s really a question about the users. One of the reasons I’m participating in this is to assist with the constant requirement for user education – in this case we’ll be educating the educators. It’s a bit like saying is fire a good thing or is the wheel a good thing. It’s good when it’s done properly.”

That’s a great response. The Internet is no more good or bad than fire or wheels are.

What are the biggest threats to our internet freedom?

“The biggest threat to the internet itself is developing the wrong culture along the lines that I was just talking about. If we get that wrong, it’ll be humans and the way that humans use this particular tool that will cause the problems. You’ve got to be clear – there’s nothing inherently good or bad in the technology itself, it’s what we choose to do with it.


Our own stupidity that could trip us up?

“Yes. The sort of threats at the moment come from people attempting to impose controls and that runs into all the usual problems that we’ve struggled with over the centuries of this civilisation.

“Where the boundaries are between harmful knowledge and harmful expression and the right to freedom of expression. Getting the balance right is always very difficult. It seems clearer in war time for example when there’s an acknowledged crisis, civil liberties are curtailed. Absent those circumstances we struggle to be as clear as we can. Another clear example is the universal prohibition on child pornography and the exploitation of children. Those don’t cause much debate – it’s in political expression and inciting racial hatred and these sorts of areas where the current debate is raging.

I think religious expression is very much a topical issue also.

Do you think we’ll be left with another toothless [copyright] law with one test case that will fall over at appeal and leave us back at square one?

“There’s a worse case than it being toothless and that’s it being very toothful – ISPs having to go around closing down all sorts of relatively routine and safe and stable websites because they happen to be hosting – even if it’s against their knowledge – some infringing material.

The new law removed any penalty for filing a false takedown notice, so the potential for misuse is considerable.

Should it be up to ISPs to police the behaviour of their customers? It’s almost like Transit NZ being blamed for a road crash.

“Occasionally Transit are responsible for that if they’ve designed the road badly, but in this case, I take the view that ISPs have a role that’s supposed to be no greater that that of other citizens in relation to infringements. I particularly disagree with the thrust of the current amendment, which turns the ISPs into enforcement agents for copyright owners. I’m a copyright lawyer and I’ve acted for copyright owners and I’ve written on the value of copyright to the community. It’s not an attack on copyright but we do need to get the balance right between copyright interests and the rights of ordinary citizens and what’s good for the internet industries.

For an intellectual property lawyer, he speaks a lot of sense 🙂

Buchanan on Obama

July 30th, 2008 at 2:04 pm by David Farrar

Paul Buchanan had a perceptive article in yesterday’s Herald on Barack Obama’s foreign policy challenges:

Barring some unanticipated event, Barack Obama is set to become the 44th President of the United States.

I think it will take something quite big to remove his lead.

Obama has sounded off against free trade agreements in order to court domestic constituencies. He has railed against Chinese dominance in the US consumer market and called for measures to stop the export of US jobs. This puts him at odds with Senator McCain and leading sectors of the US business community as well as foreign trading partners such as New Zealand. He will therefore have to reverse the US’s commitment to free trade, or betray his protectionist promises and abandon his working class supporters once in office.

This will be fascinating. We probably have not had a protectionist in office since Jimmy Carter. Arguably Bush was semi-protectionist in action if not in rhetoric. McCain would be the most pro free trade President the US has had.  I suspect Obama will drop much of his protectionist rhetoric in office, but will not see out any free trade opportunities. I see very little hope for a successful WTO round under Obama.

The same is true for Obama’s stance on Israel. He claims that he will break the deadlock in US Middle Eastern policy by taking a fresh critical look at its relationship with Israel, but then pledges that his administration will never do anything to compromise the special bond that the US has with the Jewish state. He promises to address the Palestinians as full partners in the peace process, then speaks of a unified Jerusalem, contradicting the Palestinian stance on the sacred city. He cannot have it both ways. He will have to backtrack on at least one of his promises which augurs poorly for the prospects of real change in the status quo.

I can’t see him sticking with his undivided Jerusalem pledge.

Senator Obama, like so many others, speaks of eliminating oil dependency. Yet he opposes offshore and land-based drilling in the US. Although the Saudis, Kuwaitis and various smaller Emirates understand that election rhetoric destined for domestic consumption does not mean a shift in ongoing relations, it does mean that continuance of these relations could have negative domestic repercussions down the road.

Obama may find, like Kevin Rudd, that people blame the Government for a lack of supply.

Over-reliance on the military because of the failure of “soft” power or multinational approaches makes the president and his foreign policy advisers beholden to the uniformed command. Obama’s limited and tenuous relationship with the US armed forces means that he assumes office having to establish a rapport with the military leadership before asking them to fulfil their obligations to the country and constitution. Obama’s refusal to recognise that the so-called “surge” strategy has borne fruit in reducing levels of violence and promoting indigenous political solutions to post-invasion nation-building efforts in Iraq only complicates the picture. This leaves the possibility that the military will obey his commands, but that does not mean that it consents to his authority.

It will be interesting for how long Obama will be able to stick to his line that the surge has failed.

All of which is to say that contrary to the hopes of many inside and outside of the US, an Obama presidency will not necessarily bring with it an immediate change to more positive international relations. The way he handles his first policy crisis will determine whether that becomes fact or fantasy.

I think Obama will have more positive relations initially than Bush (or McCain). But as Paul says the test will come with his first crisis. What does he do when North Korea starts building nukes again? Or when Iran declares itself nuclear capable?

One pissed off columnist

July 30th, 2008 at 11:37 am by David Farrar

An e-mail by David Cohen on a journalism list alerted me to this wonderful e-mail from The Times’ restaurant reviewer Giles Coren to the sub-editors. Read the whole thing, but here are the highlights:

I wrote: “I can’t think of a nicer place to sit this spring over a glass of rosé and watch the boys and girls in the street outside smiling gaily to each other, and wondering where to go for a nosh.”

It appeared as: “I can’t think of a nicer place to sit this spring over a glass of rosé and watch the boys and girls in the street outside smiling gaily to each other, and wondering where to go for nosh.”

There is no length issue. This is someone thinking “I’ll just remove this indefinite article because Coren is an illiterate cunt and i know best”.

He does not hold the language back!

Well, you fucking don’t.

This was shit, shit sub-editing for three reasons.

1) ‘Nosh’, as I’m sure you fluent Yiddish speakers know, is a noun formed from a bastardisation of the German ‘naschen’. It is a verb, and can be construed into two distinct nouns. One, ‘nosh’, means simply ‘food’. You have decided that this is what i meant and removed the ‘a’. I am insulted enough that you think you have a better ear for English than me. But a better ear for Yiddish? I doubt it. Because the other noun, ‘nosh’ means “a session of eating” – in this sense you might think of its dual valency as being similar to that of ‘scoff’. you can go for a scoff. or you can buy some scoff. the sentence you left me with is shit, and is not what i meant. Why would you change a sentnece aso that it meant something i didn’t mean? I don’t know, but you risk doing it every time you change something. And the way you avoid this kind of fuck up is by not changing a word of my copy without asking me, okay? it’s easy. Not. A. Word. Ever.

I love the Yiddish references.

2) I will now explain why your error is even more shit than it looks. You see, i was making a joke. I do that sometimes. I have set up the street as “sexually-charged”. I have described the shenanigans across the road at G.A.Y.. I have used the word ‘gaily’ as a gentle nudge. And “looking for a nosh” has a secondary meaning of looking for a blowjob. Not specifically gay, for this is soho, and there are plenty of girls there who take money for noshing boys. “looking for nosh” does not have that ambiguity. the joke is gone. I only wrote that sodding paragraph to make that joke. And you’ve fucking stripped it out like a pissed Irish plasterer restoring a renaissance fresco and thinking jesus looks shit with a bear so plastering over it. You might as well have removed the whole paragraph. I mean, fucking christ, don’t you read the copy?

3) And worst of all. Dumbest, deafest, shittest of all, you have removed the unstressed ‘a’ so that the stress that should have fallen on “nosh” is lost, and my piece ends on an unstressed syllable. When you’re winding up a piece of prose, metre is crucial. Can’t you hear? Can’t you hear that it is wrong? It’s not fucking rocket science. It’s fucking pre-GCSE scansion. I have written 350 restaurant reviews for The Times and i have never ended on an unstressed syllable. Fuck. fuck, fuck, fuck.

This is a man who takes his columns and language seriously!

In NZ, the sub-editor would probably win a personal grievance for hurt feelings 🙂

World Internet Project

July 30th, 2008 at 10:50 am by David Farrar

Those who like facts and figures will have no end of them in the NZ report as part of the World Internet Project. It is probably the most comprehensive study of NZer’s use of the Internet. Some interesting stats:

  • 79% of NZers use the Internet
  • 15% of users are online for over 20 hours a week (half a fulltime job)
  • 66% of users have broadband
  • 71% of users say the Internet is an important source of information, compared to 52% for newspapers and television
  • 10% of NZ Internet users have a blog (this is a very high figure internationally)
  • 28% of users use Facebook or other social networking sites
  • 25% of users have made friends with someone online and half of those have gone on to meet them in person
  • 15% seek info about political parties or MPs online
  • 43% support Government funding to enable wider Internet access while 34% oppose it
  • Almost 80% of teenagers visit social networking sites, and 40% of those in their 30s do so.
  • Over 30% of Asian users have a blog, compared to under 10% for Pakeha and around 3% for Maori
  • Around 20% of those in their teen or 20s have a blog, and slightly more females than males
  • The more you earn the less likely you are to blog

It will be interesting to see how it has changed in a few years.

UPDATE: Paul Reynolds has a great post on what theimplications of the suvey are for NZ.

COG gone

July 30th, 2008 at 10:34 am by David Farrar

The Coalition for Open Government has announced it has effectively wound up.

I am surprised. They were such strong advocates for the Electoral Finance Act, and they haven’t had a word to say on current political finance issues.

Never mind – I am sure they will reappear if National wins, to defend the Electoral Finance Act. After all – someone has to.

And Winston gets his attack wrong

July 30th, 2008 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Winston has been attacking the media for several weeks alleging they have their facst wrong, the Herald editor and political editor should resign in disgrace etc.

So you would think Winston would be careful when he accuses others of wrong-doing. But no displaying the same wrongness he accuses the media of, he targeted Craig Foss:

Mr Peters attacked National MP Craig Foss, tabling Companies Office records in which Mr Foss was listed as owning 2,524,750 shares in Cynotech Holdings.

Mr Peters questioned why Mr Foss’ shareholding was not listed in the Register of Pecuniary Interests in which all MPs are required to declare their financial interests.

Hmmn, well this could be an issue. But …..

In a statement to Parliament, Mr Foss, said the shares were registered in the name of the Foss Family Trust, and this was included in his disclosure of interests.

He also tabled a statement from the share registry confirming the trust had owned the shares – worth about $423,000 at yesterday’s prices – since April 2003.

So if we use Winston’s own rhetoric, shouldn’t he apologise and resign as he kept demanding the Herald do? I suppose the difference is the Herald story was true.

Peters also targeted former Green MP Ian Ewen-Street:

Mr Peters, who has come under hard questioning from the Green Party over the donations, also brought up the case of former Green MP Ian Ewen-Street and his partner Sue Grey.

In 2003, Mr Ewen-Street stood down from a select committee inquiry into the scampi industry, citing potential conflict of interest after he began a relationship with Ms Grey, who was a lawyer appearing before it.

Yesterday, Mr Peters described it as “improper behaviour”.

Now on this issue, Peters is correct that it was improper behaviour. I said so at the time:

I’m shocked that Green MP Ian Ewen-Street absents himself from hearing evidence on the Scampi inquiry due to a conflict of interest, yet took part in the final deliberations.

Considering the conflict of interest was that Ewen-Street was rogering the lawyer for one of the parties, I’m amazed he felt he could take any part at all in the deliberations.

But two wrongs do not make a right. The actions of Ewen-Street in 2004 do not mean Peters can do what he likes in 2008.

The “massive difference”

July 30th, 2008 at 7:11 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

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. …

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.

I agree with Winston the differences are massive. To help Winston explain, let us look at some of the differences:

  1. NZ First has railed against such trusts for 15 years
  2. The NZ First Leader personally benefits from some or all of the trust donations, not the party (payment of legal fees)
  3. The NZ First Leader personally solicits money for such trusts (Sir Robert Jones and Professor Wright testifying)
  4. The NZ First Leader’s parliamentary staff collect money for such trusts (Meurant and McClay)
  5. The NZ First Board have no idea the trust even exists (President says he has never heard of it in eight years on the board, nor has the Deputy Leader)
  6. Donors think by donating to the trusts they are donating to NZ First (Owen Glenn and Sir Robert)
  7. The trusts are so secret that no-one even knows they exist until the media expose them (for which they are told they should apologise and resign)
  8. The trusts do not declare any donations to NZ First
  9. The trusts are run by the personal lawyer and the brother of the NZ First Leader
  10. The trusts are not declared on the Register of Pecuniary Interests

So that is massive differences indeed between other parties and NZ First. Sadly for Winston his funding arrangements are less transparent and more covert in almost every aspect possible.

EPMU allowed to register – again

July 29th, 2008 at 7:00 pm by David Farrar

I’ve just been told by a journalist that the Electoral Commission has decided to allow the EPMU and four other unions which have chosen to be affiliate members of the Labour Party to register as a third party. This means the five of them can collectively spend $600,000 attacking National on behalf of Labour.

I think the Electoral Commission has got it massively wrong – again. Their decision that “person” in the EFA excluded organisations got over-turned by the High Court quite comprehensively.

On this issue, I am astonished that they could have reached a conclusion that the EPMU is not involved in the administration of the Labour Party, when there was documented evidence they take an active role in selections, conferences and the like. They in fact have a constitutional entitlement which probably makes them the most powerful member after the President.

The Electoral Commission was required to turn down any third party application unless they were posiively satisifed they were not involved in a party’s administration. This meant that if it was a borderline call, it should still have been turned down. And I don’t think it was even close to borderline.

My arguments on the EPMU’s involement with Labour are here. The Electoral Commission decision is here. At this stage they have given no reasoning for their decision.

I won’t decide on any next steps until I have read the rationale for their decision.

There have been many decisions the Electoral Commission has taken which I have supported. There have also been several where I disagreed with their decision, but believe it was a reasonable decision nonetheless.

This decision, and their earlier one which the High Court over-turned on the EPMU, fall into a category where I don’t think any reasonable person could reach the conclusion they have.

The Obama pilgrimage

July 29th, 2008 at 5:20 pm by David Farrar

A very good piss-take at the Times on the Obama fawning:

When he was twelve years old, they found him in the temple in the City of Chicago, arguing the finer points of community organisation with the Prophet Jeremiah and the Elders. And the Elders were astonished at what they heard and said among themselves: “Verily, who is this Child that he opens our hearts and minds to the audacity of hope?”

In the great Battles of Caucus and Primary he smote the conniving Hillary, wife of the deposed King Bill the Priapic and their barbarian hordes of Working Class Whites.

And so it was, in the fullness of time, before the harvest month of the appointed year, the Child ventured forth – for the first time – to bring the light unto all the world.

He travelled fleet of foot and light of camel, with a small retinue that consisted only of his loyal disciples from the tribe of the Media. …

Thence he travelled west to Mount Sarkozy. Even the beauteous Princess Carla of the tribe of the Bruni was struck by awe and she was great in love with the Child, but he was tempted not.

On the Seventh Day he walked across the Channel of the Angles to the ancient land of the hooligans. There he was welcomed with open arms by the once great prophet Blair and his successor, Gordon the Leper, and his successor, David the Golden One.

And suddenly, with the men appeared the archangel Gabriel and the whole host of the heavenly choir, ranks of cherubim and seraphim, all praising God and singing: “Yes, We Can.”

Read the whole thing, It is very well done.

Wellington Central Campaign Launch

July 29th, 2008 at 5:12 pm by David Farrar

The Wellington Central Campaign Launch is on Wednesday 6 August at the Paramount Theatre. For just $20 you get the launch plus the movie 4.

For tickets contact Murray Gibb’s phone number is 04 475 4023 or 027 491 6956.

So much for an explanation

July 29th, 2008 at 3:36 pm by David Farrar

Well Winston stood up and asked for leave to do a personal explanation. This was granted and everyone waited for him to well explain.

Alas he just launched a barrage of abuse at the media, and then sat down having revealed nothing at all. Rodney tried valiantly to point out that a personal explanation should be used to explain – not just a free whack at the media.

The highlight was when Gerry Brownlee did a point of order asking for leave for a representative of the media to be allowed to respond 🙂

Hutt South Billboard

July 29th, 2008 at 1:29 pm by David Farrar

Sent in by a reader. Would make a great billboard in real life!

Is Fairbrother a candidate or not?

July 29th, 2008 at 1:26 pm by David Farrar

I was not the only one puzzled by Russell Fairbrother getting himself elected the president of Napier Grey Power. His election has been voided as politicians are ineligible to hold office.

But what is very curious is his response:

Mr Fairbrother said he believed the rules forbade political candidates, not MPs.

Fairbrother is of course the Labour Party candidate for Napier.

Now to be fair he has as much chance of winning back the seat he lost in 2005, as Britney Spears has to win Mother of the Year. But he realy should not concede the election until after the ballots are cast.

Quote of the Day

July 29th, 2008 at 10:36 am by David Farrar

From Colin Espiner:

Asked whether she planned to urge Peters to be straight with the public at her meeting today, Clark said: “I think there is such a long history of the nature of Mr Peters’ relations with the news media that that might be asking for a state of affairs that is not possible to achieve.”

Did the Prime Minister really just say that it is Impossible (not possible) for her Minister of Foreign Affairs to be straight with the public and the media?

Tui strikes again

July 29th, 2008 at 10:31 am by David Farrar

Taken from Whale Oil.

It is arguable the billboard is illegal under the Electoral Finance Act as it cost over $1.000, can reasonably be seen to persuade people against Winston, and is not authorised or done by a registered third party.

The NZ First funding diagram

July 29th, 2008 at 10:27 am by David Farrar

Bomber Bradbury Tim Selwyn at Tumeke has done this nice little slush fund diagram to help people understand how it all works. Good job.

If there is a second edition, one could add on Ross Meurant next to Roger McClay as a collector of money, and also the Vela family as funders.

Clark distancing herself from Peters?

July 29th, 2008 at 8:32 am by David Farrar

The Herald picks up a shift from Clark:

Prime Minister Helen Clark distanced herself from Foreign Minister Winston Peters last night, implying he could be judged to be hypocritical if his New Zealand First Party accepted donations from secret trusts.

And she also offered the bare minimum in terms of expressing confidence in him.

Clever Helen. She must be very worried about the revelations to date.

Asked if she viewed Mr Peters as hypocritical given his long-time railing over big political donations from secret trusts, Helen Clark said it was a political issue that would be judged in the court of public opinion.

“Stands have been taken over a period of time which could be read as being in contradiction to what is emerging in the public arena.

That means yes.

Meanwhile, a former New Zealand First staff member said yesterday that in a discussion about Sir Robert and donations in the 1990s, Mr Peters asked for Sir Robert to be referred to as “X” in case the offices were bugged.

The staff member, who did not want to be named, said Mr Peters also had the office swept for bugs.

Another former staff member, Rex Widerstrom, said he recalled discussions of a $50,000 donation from Sir Robert in 1995 and the Spencer Trust being used “like a code word” for Mr Peters’ litigation fund.

One wonders just how much has gone into the Spencer Trust over the years, and how much has gone into NZ First itself?

A witness to a 2005 discussion between Sir Robert and Mr Peters about the donation, Professor Malcolm Wright of the University of South Australia, said yesterday that Mr Peters had tried to get $50,000. But he had got only half of that after the property magnate caved in out of “mateship”.

Mr Wright, who was working for Sir Robert, said they met Mr Peters and his “offsider” – understood to be former National MP and former Children’s Commissioner Roger McClay – “over a few drinks”.

Mr Wright said Mr Peters was out of the room when the donation was first discussed and came back and “quite aggressively asked who raised it” before having a long discussion that included Mr Peters trying for $50,000.

Professor Wright’s recollection seems excellent.

Roger McClay is going to need to speak up at some stage. The simple question is why was he soliciting money for the Spencer Trust while employed in the parliamentary office of Winston Peters?

The questions for Winston are simpler. I use a famous quote:

What did the president he know and when did he know it?