Winston’s horse

The Herald reports:

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is rejecting allegations from a former colleague that he misused party money and failed to declare interests in a successful racehorse.

Independent MP , who was elected to Parliament as a New Zealand First member, said Mr Peters should reveal his own spending and interests instead of making “spurious allegations” against Justice Minister Judith Collins.

Mr Peters has been attacking Ms Collins in the House for not fully declaring the details of her trip to Beijing in October, but has failed to land the killer blow.

Yesterday, Mr Horan claimed that his former leader should have declared his part-ownership of a 5-year-old mare named Bellazeel in Parliament’s register of pecuniary interests.

The horse was sired by famous racehorse Zabeel and has itself claimed more than $20,000 in prizemoney in the past year. …

He believed there was no requirement to declare ownership in a horse, let alone a 10 per cent stake in a syndicate lease of a horse.

The lease, which was bought in a charity auction in 2008, has now expired.

MPs must declare all property, directorships, gifts, shares and other interests in the register each year.

Registrar Sir Maarten Wevers said he had not received complaints on the issue, and it was up to each MP to decide whether or not something fell within the terms of the register.

He said the ownership of racehorses by MPs had been raised with his office previously.

Sir Maarten said racehorses that were held by syndicates needed to be declared, but he did not know the full details of the ownership structure of Bellazeel.

“I would think it would certainly be … a business entity undertaking … something for a pecuniary profit. That’s what you race a horse for, I presume.”

Mr Horan and National MP Chris Tremain have previously disclosed part-ownership of a racehorse in the register.

Frankly I don’t care if Winston owns a horse or not. In fact I think the Register of Pecuniary Interests is sometimes too intrusive. What we should know about is if an MP is receiving large gifts from people or companies, and any significant investments they have which could influence their vote. I don’t think we need to know the names of their family trusts, the property they own or if they own a racehorse.

But it is amusing to see Winston hoist on his own petard. I don’t think he has done anything wrong (in this case) but it is a reminder of the old adage about throwing stones in glasshouses. Winston is the last one to lecture on proper disclosures.

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