Williams on Peters

March 10th, 2014 at 7:12 am by David Farrar

Mike Williams wrote yesterday:

Peters was vehemently attacked in the lead-up to the 2008 general election for allegedly accepting a $100,000 contribution from the same Sir Owen two years earlier, then denying it.

Despite a leaked email in which Sir Owen said he’d made a donation to NZ First, when Peters was asked if NZ First had received the money from Sir Owen he held up a sign that read “No”.

He was widely pilloried. NZ First fell short of the 5 per cent threshold by 20,000 votes in the forthcoming general election, disappeared from Parliament and gave John Key’s National Party the election.

As I facilitated the donation in question, I can report – for the first time – that Peters was in fact telling the strict truth.

No he wasn’t. There are two aspects to whether Peters was telling the truth, and Williams focuses on one aspect only – which gives a very misleading impression. I’ll explain.

It was then resolved that a contribution would be made to defray the costs of the court action and a payment was made to the fees account of the lead lawyer, Brian Henry.

The transaction did not involve Peters and no money ever went near him or the NZ First Party. However the privileges committee and media chose to believe the leaked email – and the rest is history.

Peters was asked two things. One was whether Glenn had donated to NZ First and the other was whether he knew in advance about the donation to Brian Henry to cover Peters’ legal fees.

One can argue, like Williams has, that the $100,000 donation was not to NZ First – but to Brian Henry and/or to Peters personally. But that wasn’t the key issue that the Privileges Committee looked into.

Peters claimed that he knew nothing at all about the donation until Henry revealed it. He swore black and blue that he knew nothing at all about it.

The evidence presented to the Privileges Committee (which I attended) was testimony by Glenn and his assistant that it had been discussed. But they had more than their word. The evidence includes

  1. a phone log showing a lengthy call between Glenn and Peters from 1.27 pm to 1.33 pm
  2. a phone log showing Peters called Brian Henry from 1.34 pm to 1.39 pm
  3. a e-mail from Brian Henry at 1.40 pm to Owen Glenn asking for the money, providing a bank account number and referring to his recent discussion with his client

If you believe the two phone calls immediately before the e-mail providing the bank account number for the $100,000 were unrelated, then you are either a member of the Labour Party caucus or I have a bridge for sale!

Also Sue Moroney’s brother testified he heard Peters thank Glenn for the donation.

So let there be no mistake. Peters was not telling the truth. He may have been telling the truth in terms of whether it was a donation to NZ First or not – but there is no way he was telling the truth when he denied knowing anything about the donation. The phone logs and e-mail are a smoking gun.

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Williams on Holmes

January 27th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The best article I have read on Paul Holmes is from former Labour President Mike Williams in the Herald on Sunday. It’s a great read, and what I really enjoyed about it is that it is about Holmes the person, not the broadcaster. Williams has been friends with him for almost 50 years.

Also an interesting read is the 1973 Listener interview with Holmes.

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Labour congratulates itself for law breaking

September 26th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

I saw a headline at Pundit, which was “The election campaign so far: Trevor one, Steven nil”.

I wondered which commentator there had just suffered a breakdown, and was so keen to kill off their credibility by alleging that Trevor Mallard is running a better campaign than Steven Joyce. The best campaign managers I note are those who do not constantly make negative stories for their own party.

So who was it, that had gone bonkers? Surely not that nice Tim Watkin? No. Likewise Jane Young and David Beatson care far too much about their reputations to be so preposterous. Maybe it could be Deborah Coddington as some sort of sarcastic joke. Even Sue Bradford would avoid being so ridiculous.

So I went to have a look, and found out it was former Labour Party President, Mike Williams. Suddenly the mystery is no more.

But I was curious, what was this strategic victory that Mallard had pulled off, over Joyce? It takes a while to find it. First Williams bleats about national standards. Then in the very last paragraph Williams says:

Back to the campaign count-downs, and in the marginal seat of Te Atatu, its one nil to Trevor Mallard over Steven Joyce. Labour candidates, Phil Twyford and Kelvin Davies got their hoardings up at the first opportunity.

We’re still waiting for National’s Tau Henare to get motivated.

Give him a call, Steven. Not a good look.

Only could a former Labour Party President regard obeying the law as “not a good look”.

As readers will know, Labour MPs en masse (and a couple of National MPs) ignored the Auckland Council bylaw and instructions and stuck their hoardings up early, and illegally. In the culture that is the Labour Party, this is to be applauded as utilising the first opportunity. Others would compare it to cheating, and starting the race before the gun goes off.

This is what I mean about the culture of being above the law that permeates Labour. It’s not one or two isolated MPs.

Anyway there was one interesting aspect to the blog by Williams. He called Te Atatu a marginal seat, despite a 5,298 majority in 2008.

Now I am not disputing that Te Atatu may well indeed be a marginal seat. Just how extraordinary it is for an opposition party to label a seat with a majority over 5,000 as marginal. It shows they realise how much trouble they may be in. Here’s the general seats Labour holds with a smaller than 5,298 majority.

  • Christchurch Central
  • Hutt South
  • New Lynn
  • Palmerston North
  • Port Hills
  • Rimutaka
  • Waimakariri
  • Wellington Central

 

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Auckland CCO appointments

December 10th, 2010 at 8:24 am by David Farrar

Whale Oil highlights how four of the secret appointments by Len Brown to CCOs were of politicians who failed to get elected in their own right.

One example is Mike Williams who was rejected by voters in standing for the Henderson-Massey Local Board, Wait­em­ata DHB and the Wait­akere Licens­ing Trust.

But Len has put him onto the Auckland Transport CCO.

Even worse, the appointments (done with no Council consultation – just a ratification vote) include two members of Len’s campaign team reports the Herald:

The mayor’s office has confirmed that two of the new appointees, Pacific Trust chief executive Richard Jeffery and Pacific business leader Pauline Winter, were members of Mr Brown’s election campaign team.

So of the 12 appointments Len made, four were of politicians rejected by the voters, two were of members of his campaign team, and one his controversial former CEO.

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Mike Williams on future leaders

October 5th, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

At the 2006 Labour Party Conference, Mike Williams said on Agenda (8 July):

“I can think of between six and a dozen people in that caucus who could lead the Labour Party.”

My question to readers. Who do you think was on that list? This is from the 2006 Caucus.

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Gattung speaks up

March 5th, 2010 at 10:09 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Former Telecom head Theresa Gattung has attacked the company for paying its executives much bigger salaries than when she was in charge.

In her book Bird on a Wire, which goes on sale next week, Ms Gattung – who received a leaving payment of $3.9 million in June 2007 on top of a base salary of $1.25m – questions whether the current staff deserve such generous pay.

“Now that I’m long gone I, with the rest of the country, wonder about the propriety of a company making half the annual profits it did a few years ago but paying its executives considerably higher salaries.”

It’s a fair question, but there may also be a fair answer. One reason profits have dropped is because the Government has operationally separated Telecom to stamp out business practices which were anti-competitive. The reason the Government did this is because it got so frustrated with the behaviour of Telecom under Theresa’s regime.

Ms Gattung told the Herald politicians deserved much of the blame for Telecom’s latest woes.

She said she predicted in 2007 that the Labour Government’s decision to give competitors access to Telecom’s exchanges, and to split the company into three divisions, would result in a “train wreck”.

Telecom may be struggling (for a number of reasons), but the sector as a whole is actually doing very well. The train wreck for me was the previous status quo.

In her book, Ms Gattung also reveals that former Labour Party president Mike Williams approached her shortly before she left Telecom to stand for Labour.

She says she was “flabbergasted”.

Now that would have been interesting.

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The lobbying President

September 25th, 2009 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

I’m amazed no one in the media, or even the Greens, have picked up on this revelation in a story on Tony Gibbs.

And then, on behalf of GPG shareholders, there was 2006′s epic joust with the Labour government over its plan to change tax rules on foreign investments. …

Mr Gibbs launched a vigorous and ultimately successful campaign to get the government to back down. …

Former Labour Party president Mike Williams has dealt with Mr Gibbs for several years, including when Mr Gibbs was attempting to defeat the tax legislation being promoted by the Labour-led government. “He put up a hell of a fight and he won. He convinced me that it was unfair and, to be honest with you, I lobbied for him – it was unfair.”

Now just think about this. The Labour Party President, their chief fund-raiser, was lobbying his own Government Ministers on behalf of Mr Gibbs and GPG to secure the defeat of tax legislation.

Party Presidents should not be lobbyists for corporate interests. It is a fundamental conflict of interest to collect the money from corporates, and then lobby on their behalf to the Government.

This just reminds me how hollow Labour’s claim of concern about transparency in electoral financing is.

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Mike Williams’ new job

August 30th, 2009 at 5:46 am by David Farrar

The Sunday News reports:

SECRET documents suggest that former Labour Party president Mike Williams got the $100,000-plus a year job heading the anti-P Stellar Trust mainly because he is mates with Paul Holmes.

“Clearly there are some risks with the Williams appointment,” reads a confidential paper from the Trust’s board.

“There may well be other candidates in the marketplace who may be capable of doing a better job as CEO and chief fundraiser, however if we go that route we will very likely not have Holmes’ involvement,” it continues.

It is no secret that Holmes and Williams are close mates, so this is little surprise.

The document, dated August 2, adds: “Our recommendation therefore is to offer the CEO role to Mike Williams, but to give ourselves the ability to review the situation after say six months, subject to the constraints of current employment law.

“If he has not succeeded in raising significant sums in that time, there will not be enough funding for his continuing salary, so he does have an incentive to succeed.”

I am no fan of Williams, but to be fair to him he seemed to be reasonably proficient in fundraising for Labour.

But Williams’s appointment has led to high profile, anti-P crusader Mike Sabin and his group MethCon withdrawing their support for the Stellar Trust.

He sent an email to the board on August 10 which read: “It is with some regret I wish to advise that I am unable to reconcile my concerns about the appointment of Mike Williams to the position of CEO to the trust. I believe this is a high risk appointment that will be very polarising given the political overtones.”

It is understood that Sabin, a former drug squad detective, believed Labour approached the P epidemic with a polarising “harm minimisation” approach, treating it as a public health and welfare issue rather than a public order problem.

Sabin may well be right, but really I wouldn’t hld the former party president responsible for what the parliamentary wing or Ministers decided.

The Stellar Trust board’s confidential August 2 paper also revealed there was a concern about how Williams’ appointment would be accepted by the National Government.

After last year’s election, Williams left Labour’s engine-room following a series of controversial media reports, including how he flew to Australia seeking dirt on John Key.

The Trust’s reservations were passed on to Holmes, regarded as the public face of Stellar.

The broadcaster sought the Prime Minister’s views.

Key last night confirmed a call between himself and Holmes on July 26.

“I’ve moved on and I’m not a person who holds grudges.

“If Mike is prepared to spend his time trying to combat P, given the devastation that drug is causing, then I’m happy to work with him,” he told Sunday News.

Could you imagine Helen Clark saying the same thing about someone who had flown to another country in a (failed) attempt to smear her as a criminal fraudster?

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Williams resigns off boards

December 7th, 2008 at 5:25 pm by David Farrar

On Agenda this morning John Key was asked whether he thought Mike WIlliams should go off all his Government boards, and Key said yes.

To give credit to Williams, he has taken the hint and resigned, according to Radio NZ:

Mr Williams says he was advised by the agency that oversees Crown owned companies, the Crown Company Monitoring Advisory Unit or CCMAU, that his resignation was expected by ministers in the new government.

Mr Williams says he has now resigned from Genesis Energy, the New Zealand Transport Agency and GNS Science.

He says the only complication is that he needs to have his name removed from an upcoming $150 million bond issue by Genesis.

Mr Williams says otherwise he would have liability, without accountability, for the bond issue.

I don’t think being Labour Party President per se meant he had to resign. People such as former Labour Deputy Leader David Caygill give very good service. It was Williams involvement in trying to smear John Key with the H-Fee that made his continued service impossible – in my opinion.

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Williams to resign this week

November 30th, 2008 at 10:46 am by David Farrar

The SST reports that Mike Williams will resign as Labour Party President this week. Sadly there is no word on whether he has resigned off all the Government boards Labour appointed him to.

He still claims no regrets over his attempted smear job of John Key:

Williams, who drew much criticism for his dash to Melbourne late in the election campaign to examine papers about National leader John Key, said he had no regrets about doing so.

The 13,000 pages of court documents turned out to contain nothing incriminating of Key.

“To use a metaphor, if you’re pinned down, somebody has to crawl out under the barbed wire,” Williams told the Sunday Star-Times. “I drew the short straw on that one and the chance of getting my arse shot off, and I did.” The allegations had to be checked out, he said.

It’s sad he still doesn’t realise his mistake. As Party President he never ever should have been flying to Melbourne and taking back 20 kgs of papers. There were scores of other people who could have been dispatched.

Merely being a party president for the party no longer in power, doesn’t mean one should have to immediately resign all your Government appointments. Normally they would be allowed to see their terms out.

But WIlliams tried to prove that the Prime Minister was NZ’s biggest fraudster. He personally drove and managed an attempted smear campaign. He even blogged about it as Batman. He sent copies of documents to journalists at their home addresses. Having done all that, how ca he expect to be trusted to govern any crown entity on behalf of the new Government?

If Williams will not proactively resign, the Government shoudl show some balls and write to him asking him to resign off all the Boards he is on.

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Little confirms Labour presidency bid

November 12th, 2008 at 7:49 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Ms King, 61, was first elected in 1984 and is two years younger than Dr Cullen.

She has been tipped as a contender for Wellington’s mayoralty, which could open her Rongotai seat for Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union secretary Andrew Little.

However, party president Mike Williams told the Labour caucus yesterday that he intended to serve till November and then step down, prompting Mr Little to confirm that he was interested in the job. “I would be a contender,” he said.

I can’t imagine Andrew will face any opposition to his ascension. And he should prove more of an asset than the incumbent.

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Herald on Batman

November 1st, 2008 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald writes:

On October 13, an anonymous blogger posted to Labour Party-affiliated website The Standard. The blogger, calling himself Batman, is believed to be a senior official, most likely party president Mike Williams, although he has denied it was him.

Of course he has.

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Dom Post on H-Fee Smear

November 1st, 2008 at 10:46 am by David Farrar

Oh today’s Dom Post editorial is wonderful:

First they take the piss out of Williams and compare it all to a John le Carre novel.

At the Victorian Office of Public Prosecutions a swarthy, middle-aged man is hunched over a desk working his way through an enormous stack of documents, The Dominion Post writes

In Wellington a pile of documents is dropped in a Dominion Post reporter’s letterbox wrapped in a copy of the Otago Daily Times. Further documents follow, delivered by someone who calls himself Batman.

The script for an antipodean John le Carre-style thriller? Sadly no.

Le Carre would have approved of “Batman”. It’s a nice touch, hinting at a sense of self-deprecation on the part of the document dropper, but if Le Carre had been writing the script, the man poring over court records in Melbourne would have been a Russian emigre with a limp, not Labour Party president Mike Williams, and the drop would have been wrapped in the Times Literary Supplement, not the ODT.

But then they really put the acid on:

However, two critical facts have been uncovered by document searches in Melbourne. In an interview last year, Mr Key wrongly stated that he left Elders Merchant Finance a year earlier than he did in 1988 and he wrongly stated that he paid for a 1988 lunch that Australian court documents show was actually paid for by a colleague.

These are matters of grave import that go to the heart of Mr Key’s credibility as a prime ministerial aspirant.

If he cannot be relied upon to remember who paid for the champers with which he and his colleagues toasted his departure 20 years ago, how can he be trusted to run the country? Next thing he’ll be claiming he was unaware the crown limo in which he was being ferried from one place to another was travelling at twice the speed limit, signing his name to artworks he did not produce, rewriting electoral laws to suit his party or pretending not to notice that a political ally has been misleading the public.

Ouch, ouch and ouch again.

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Labour’s H-Fee smear

November 1st, 2008 at 6:23 am by David Farrar

Some useful comments from John Armstrong and especially Fran O’Sullivan on Labour’s attempted H-Fee smear. It is worth remembering that this was a smear thay had been pushing for over a year, with Ministers in the House going on about it.

Armstrong writes:

Labour did trip itself up this week, the cynicism and arrogance of power coming back to bite it with a vengeance. That was most obvious in Labour’s latest attempt to dredge up something, anything, in John Key’s foreign exchange dealing past which might make voters question whether National’s leader has the integrity worthy of a prime minister.

Labour believes it is perfectly within its rights to probe Key’s character. That may be so. But New Zealand voters have huge difficulty with investigations into MPs’ pasts and private lives. Some discretion is required on Labour’s part. Yet, it clumsily seems to think it can fool the public that it is performing a public service that gives it the latitude to parade the flimsiest material as proof of Key’s unfitness to govern.

When it turns up nothing – and no less a figure than the party’s president is doing the digging for dirt – Labour looks as if it is driven by a fatal mix of arrogance and desperation. Hardly a good look in the penultimate week of an election campaign.

Labour (and many others including myself) were appalled when the Exclusive Brethren hired a private detective to investigate the Prime Minister. Labour are acting no better than the Exclusive Brethren when they have their party president flying to Australia and hawling back 20 kgs of papers in an attempt to smear Key.

O’Sullivan points out how truly desperate Labour must have been to try this:

Labour Party president Mike Williams must have been tired and emotional or greatly deluded to believe he was finally on the track of a “neutron bomb” which would blast National leader John Key’s election campaign into smithereens.

The upshot of Williams’ lunatic attempt to try and link Key with the notorious 1988 H-fee scam – when no such evidence has been uncovered – is that Labour is now (rightfully) scrambling to fight off accusations that it is more interested in launching smears against its opponents than fighting a fair election at a time of extreme international financial turbulence.

The Prime Minister’s pathetic attempt to distance herself from Williams’ ham-fisted behaviour lasted a mere 24 hours before she was forced to confirm the Labour Party paid for what she initially described as his “private mission”.

Have no doubt if the smear had worked Clark would have fronted it.

It is unfathomable that Williams and Labour’s taxpayer-funded “researchers” thought they would drive home a connection putting Key at the centre of this white-collar crime by uncovering evidence that had eluded the Australian National Crimes Authority’s forensic investigators.

If evidence existed linking Key to the transaction he would either have faced charges, or been subpoenaed to give evidence in the subsequent court cases against Jarrett and Hawkins. He wasn’t.

This is the part that made me realise how desperate Williams was with his Keystone Cops routine. Williams thought his collection of amateur detectives would find evidence that had been overlooked by the Serious Fraud Office and the Australian National Crime Authority’s foresnic investigators.

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Who paid for the lawyer and court fees?

October 31st, 2008 at 10:54 am by David Farrar

Duncan Garner blogs:

The H-fee fiasco hasn’t blown up. Well it has – but it’s a minor smoke bomb and it’s exploded in Labour’s face.

Labour had hoped that Key signed off on the $66m Elders – Equiticorp foreign exchange scam in 1988. It would ha ve been gold wouldn’t it?

The signature looks the same – but it’s not Key.

Labour’s President Mike Williams spent a few days in Melbourne last week pouring over the 24 kilograms of papers. But he couldn’t access to the court documents easily.

He had to use the Australian Labour Party’s top lawyer to get a court order – through a judge – to get to the documents.

So who paid for the top lawyer and who paid the court filing fees? Was it the Labour Party?

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Some answers to the 12 questions

October 31st, 2008 at 6:38 am by David Farrar

Did Helen not notice her party president – the Labour Party Campaign Chair and Manager, was out of the country trying to dig up dirt on John Key from 20 years ago?

Yes – she has confirmed she knew what Williams was up to.

Did no one notice he was absent from the daily campaign meetings he normally chairs?

Possibly not, since Helen appointed herself chief political strategist instead of Mike.

Why were taxpayer funded members of Labour’s Parliamentary Research Unit also in Australia with Mike Williams trying to smear John Key?

Helen says none of them flew over, but they were assisting Williams.

Who paid for all their travel?

Well either Helen or Williams are lying here. Helen says WIlliams paid himself. Williams says the Labour Party paid.

Does the head of the research unit still report unofficially to Heather Simpson?

Yes. And there is no way they would have been authorised to work on the smear campaign without Heather’s sign off.

Is the Batman who posted documents anonymously to Dominion Post reporters the same Batman who is an author on The Standard and posted on the H-Fee earlier this month?

Yes.

Why did The Standard delete the previous post from Batman?

They did not delete it, but changed it from being an author to being a guest post and put up a disclaimer that they do not know who Batman is.

Does this not link The Standard to Mike Williams and the Labour Parliamentary Research Unit?

They claim they do not know who Batman is (despite giving him or her posting rights temporarily).

Is it not time that Labour fronted up and revealed how many of the 15 Standard authors are parliamentary and ministerial staffers?

And is Batman one of them?

Who from Labour told Winston about the smear so he could refer to it on Alt TV?

My guess is Pete Hodgson

Doesn’t it undermine Helen’s claim she had nothing to do with it, when her parliamentary strategist Pete Hodgson is trying to beat it up?

And continues to try and beat it up.

Is Helen just pretending she knew nothing about the attempted smear, or has she lost control of her party, her party president and her own research unit?

I don’t think she has lost control. She is in contact six times a day with Mike Williams. If it had not blown up in their face, she would be fronting the issue.

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12 Questions

October 30th, 2008 at 8:00 am by David Farrar
  1. Did Helen not notice her party president – the Labour Party Campaign Chair and Manager, was out of the country trying to dig up dirt on John Key from 20 years ago?
  2. Did no one notice he was absent from the daily campaign meetings he normally chairs?
  3. Why were taxpayer funded members of Labour’s Parliamentary Research Unit also in Australia with Mike Williams trying to smear John Key?
  4. Who paid for all their travel?
  5. Does the head of the research unit still report unofficially to Heather Simpson?
  6. Is the Batman who posted documents anonymously to Dominion Post reporters the same Batman who is an author on The Standard and posted on the H-Fee earlier this month?
  7. Why did The Standard delete the previous post from Batman?
  8. Does this not link The Standard to Mike Williams and the Labour Parliamentary Research Unit?
  9. Is it not time that Labour fronted up and revealed how many of the 15 Standard authors are parliamentary and ministerial staffers?
  10. Who from Labour told Winston about the smear so he could refer to it on Alt TV?
  11. Doesn’t it undermine Helen’s claim she had nothing to do with it, when her parliamentary strategist Pete Hodgson is trying to beat it up?
  12. Is Helen just pretending she knew nothing about the attempted smear, or has she lost control of her party, her party president and her own research unit?
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Memories

October 29th, 2008 at 7:45 pm by David Farrar

Let me see if I have this right.

Helen Clark claims she can’t remember when she was first briefed on Owen Glenn’s wishes to be made Consul – a relatively recent event, and a pretty significant issue.

While Helen is also claiming there is something sinister about the fact that John Key may have got wrong who paid for a meal 20 years ago when he was 26, and the date he left a job.

Let’s first deal with what is an undisputed fact – John Key had nothing to do with the H-Fee. Here is what the then SFO Director said:

Mr Key was simply one in a “vast array of innocent people, potential witnesses, in a massive fact-gathering exercise. I feel compelled to fully support the reported comments of John Key in relation to the H-Fee transaction. It should not need to be said that John Key was completely innocent of any wrongdoing whatsoever. For any politician to hint or suggest otherwise would be absolutely rubbish and pure mischief-making’

Also from the same story last August:

Yesterday Labour Ministers were denying any knowledge of the H-Fee rumours and Labour Party president Mike Williams said the news was “a bolt from the blue” for him.

This is the same Mike WIlliams who is reported today:

In a drive to pin down Mr Key’s involvement in the case, Labour Party president Mike Williams took time out from the heat of the election to fly to Melbourne last week to search documents relating to a court case over the H-Fee.

So get this. The Labour Party President – a man paid almost $200,000 a year by the taxpayer for his multiple board appointments actually flew to another country to search through 20 year old court documents in a desperate attempt to smear John Key. This is Labour’s plan for the future.

And the best he could find was inconsistency over who paid for dinner.

Also worth remembering the SST last year:

Former Equiticorp boss Allan Hawkins and Australian-based expat and former Elders Merchant Finance executive Ken Jarrett have both confirmed Key’s claims he had nothing to do with H-Fee.

So there is no proof at all that Key was in any way involved. It is an attempted guilt by association smear.

So what is this so called neutron bomb. At best it is three minor inconsistencies. Let’s take them one at a time:

Date of Departure

Yes John Key originally said he left in 1987,and in fact it was 24 June 1988. But the Herald themselves had the correct date in their 15 page profile on him in July 2008. So the correct date was already out there.

Before or after the H-Fee

Key said he left before the NZ H-Fee, which was on 7 Sep 1988. This is correct regardless of whether he left in 1987 or June 1988.

There was an earlier H-Fee in Jan 1988 for A$40m. Yes Key still worked for Elders then – but that earlier fee took place in Australia and Key was working in New Zealand. In his own words:

Mr Key says the Labour Party’s desperate attempt to link him with this issue again now appears to revolve around an earlier H-Fee transaction which took place in Australia while he was working for Elders in New Zealand.

“I was not involved in, or even aware of, that earlier transaction. Labour is clearly scraping the bottom of the barrel and will stop at no lie or innuendo.”

And remember that *everyone* says Key was not involved – the SFO, the then head of Equiticorp and the then finance head for Elders where the 26 year old Key was working.

This is again an attempt at guilt by association.

Who paid for the meal?

Mr Key told the Herald last year that Mr Jarrett had denied being in the country when that meeting took place. He said in the interview last year he was able to back-up Mr Richards’ story that Mr Jarrett was in the country because he – Mr Key – had paid for the lunch and had the credit card bill to prove it.

In fact, the court records show that Mr Richards paid for the lunch, not Mr Key.

Oh my God a dispute over who paid for lunch 20 years ago.

Mr Key said today that he always held the belief that the credit card used was his, but conceded it could well have been Mr Richards’.

Oh God Key may have been wrong on some details of a meal 20 years ago when he was 26. This is far far more serious than Helen Clark claiming amnesia over when she was first lobbied to make Owen Glenn Consul.

Finally for those who are going to try and make a capital case out of the fact there were some inconsistencies between people at the lunch, I quote from this e-mail sent to me by a lawyer a few minutes ago, quoting a standard summing up from the crown:

Reminds me of crown summing ups – “now the defence will no doubt point out to you that there are inconsistencies in the stories told by the crown witnesses.  We accept that, of course there are inconsistencies.  It’s human nature.  People can only give their memories, their recollection and such things are never perfect.  Indeed, if the stories were exactly the same there would be cause for concern.  That would suggest collusion.  No, what you have heard is unvarnished recollections.  What is important is that there is clear agreement on…”

I really hope someone asks Mike Williams who paid for his dirt digging trip to Melbourne.

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Young and Espiner on Peters

September 11th, 2008 at 9:46 am by David Farrar

Both Audrey Young and Colin Espiner blogged yesterday on Winston Peters. I’ll start with Audrey:

It has become a lot clearer now as to why the Labour spin machine has been in overdrive for months over Owen Glenn’s character – and it has been awful.

Note how Audrey says Labour has been denigrating Glenn, their largest donor, for months.

They were worried about what he would say about them, not just Winston Peters.

And he has said it – that he consulted Mike Williams before ringing Peters on December 14 to agree to give him $100,000 for the Tauranga electoral petition.

And more importantly that he told Helen Clark back in February that he had given Peters $100,000 for Peters’ legal fees. He reiterated that point at a press conference this morning at the Hilton Hotel in Auckland.

And the records back Glenn. He had brunch with Mike Williams and phoned Winston at 11.30 am Sydney time. It would have been mere minutes after Williams had left, if he had left. Glenn says there is no way he would have donated without Labour’s okay, which he got from Mike Williams.

Williams’ reputation has already suffered badly from the Labour Party conference episode – he denied having endorsed the distribution of Government literature when a tape recording proved he had actually said it was “a damned good idea”.

He lied about something he said in front of 500 people, so indeed his denials in this case have to be judged in that context.

Labour has been saying for ages it would be terrific if Owen Glenn appeared in person before the privileges committee because people could assess for themselves his credibility – or lack of it; how easily confused he gets.

Having heard him at privileges, seen him on Campbell Live, heard him being interview by Kathryn Ryan on Nine to Noon and heard parts of the press conference at the Hilton today, it is hard to fault his credibility.

Michael Cullen tripped him up over one of the paragraphs of his testimony – the matter of whether he had called Winston or Winston had called him in early December.

But Glenn has been cogent, coherent, sane, sharp, in command of his senses and memory and very colourful.

Indeed. And he has factual evidence that supports his version of events – a version that has never significantly altered.

It is hard to imagine how Peters and Brian Henry can counter the damning phone records and email testimony.

And they failed to do so yesterday.

If Glenn is telling the truth, then how can Peters and Henry account for the “third person” – the alleged client they told the privileges committee existed.

I would bet money that the alleged third person is Roger McClay, whose taxpayer funded job appeared to be raising money for NZ First and Winston.

And how they account for the press statement issued on July 18 a few hours after Peters’ mother died saying Henry had just told him about the Glenn donation.

I feel sickened at the thought of it.

That’s an honest raw emotion. And it is sickening when you think of it. Owen Glenn has proven beyond reasonable doubt Peters solicited the money and knew of it. So if you believe Owen Glenn (and Peters has failed to cast serious doubt on it), then Peters knew all along, and hence the announcement of his “having just found out from Brian Henry” on 18 July was a deliberate decision to release the information a few hours after the news of his mother’s death filtered out.

I also feel sick even typing the above, but that is the only conclusion one can draw, if you accept Owen Glenn’s version of events. I know that is ultra harsh, but again unless Owen Glenn is a pathological liar, then the decision to release the truth about the donation was deliberately timed.

Colin Espiner looks at Labour’s role:

I thought Clark suffered a rare pasting in Parliament this afternoon, with National leader John Key finally getting on a roll and managing to land a few punches on the Prime Minister: “The reason she has never sacked Winston Peters is  because she is up to her eyeballs in this and what happened yesterday was that the truth jetted into town.”

It was a great line – so good he repeated it at least three more times. It’s a pity National didn’t follow this up with a more sustained assault rather than reverting to business-as-usual questions. But Key was right, however; Clark is up to her neck in this fiasco and it’s plain she’s had enough.

At a minimum Helen Clark knew the truth in February 2008. However she may have known as far back as December 2005. She was never asked in the House yesterday whether or not she had any discussions at all, of any sort, with Mike Williams over Owen Glenn helping out with the Tauranga electoral petition. She was asked some questions on her knowledge, but said (off memory) that she had not had a conversation of that nature – it was a denial of a specific allegation, not a denial of any conversations at all with Williams in 2005 over Glenn.

I reckon if she does sack Peters she will call the election date as well. It would be a good way of brushing the ongoing fiasco off the front pages and cutting Peters and his party loose. Not that she’ll need to do that – NZ First will be furious if she sacks Peters before the privileges committee reports back and its agreement with Labour will be toast.

That won’t bother Clark – the last time she needs NZ First’s votes is later today, when the Emissions Trading Scheme has its third and final reading.

But NZ First will have a point. Clark has long championed Peters’ right to due process and natural justice. Sacking him half-way through the hearing would be a bit like the judge at a murder trial telling the defence that she’s heard enough – just take him out the back and hang him.

But politics doesn’t really operate like a court – even at the privileges committee, supposedly one of the highest courts in the land. Politics is neither as orderly as a court nor as fair.  And it’s becoming obvious that Peters’ right to natural justice exists only as long as it is politically expedient for Clark to allow it.

There’s no question she is running out of time. Peters is an albatross around her neck and if she doesn’t cut the strings soon she will sink along with him.

I hope she delays the decision as long as possible then!

As I blogged yesterday, the key issue is not so much whether Clark sacks Peters, but whether she rules out a post-election deal with NZ First.

John Key has said he will not strike a deal with NZ First, even if it means staying in Opposition rather than becoming Prime Minister. Will Clark rule out a deal if she sacks Peters, but somehow NZ First gets back in?

UPDATE: My wish is granted. Clark is delaying a decision until next week, after Brian Henry’s next appearance.

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Scoop’s Campbell on Privileges

September 10th, 2008 at 2:13 pm by David Farrar

Some good analysis from Gordon Campbell at Scoop:

With hindsight – or even you’d think, with foresight – it was not a great idea for Michael Cullen to be leading the Labour bloc’s attempt to dent Owen Glenn’s testimony to the privileges committee. It only made Cullen, Russell Fairbrother, and Paul Swain look like they were doing legal work for Winston Peters pro bono, by challenging Glenn’s powers of recall. That is not the position the Clark government should be taking, right now.

Yes the pro bono legal team for Peters, I like it.

Wheeling up Cullen, Labour’s big gun and deputy chair of the privileges committee for the task of trying to trip up Glenn’s recall and command of detail only had a vague chance of triggering a meltdown – or boilover – from the billionaire witness. Tackling Glenn about who phoned who and spoke to whom back in 2005 also never looked like overturning the basic issue of whether Peters had gone out actively soliciting the money. The Labour effort just looked like nitpicking, or worse.

Cullen spent minutes obsessed over whether Glenn called Peters back or Peters called again in relation to an earlier phone call (not the one that triggered the donation).

Being faithful to the laws of natural justice and due process is all very well. Yet the government’s fidelity to Peters is starting to look suicidal and willful. Leave it too late – and we have probably gone past that point already – and sacking Peters will just look like rats leaving a sinking ship.

The Government could have established the truth about this issue many months ago. They have no one to blame for dragging it out, but themselves.

That was why the Glenn appearance in person, was so crucial. Before then, there was still an outside chance that the committee could be plausibly uncertain on the issue of credibility between Peters and Glenn. If so, the committee’s findings would have split along party lines – thus leaving Peters an escape route with the voters. Not any more. The balance of credibility has tilted decisively, in Glenn’s favour.

Yep. Even Helen is backing away her preposterous “innocent explanation” stance.

Barring miracles from Peters in his rebuttal testimony tonight, this episode is all but over. What Glenn produced was a timeline fleshed out by email and telephone records. While those records were incomplete on certain fine points – as in, was it Peters ‘or someone from New Zealand First’ who contacted Glenn in late November 2005 ? But from then on through the crucial period in December 2005, Glenn’s oral evidence and supportive email/telephone records were credible, and utterly damning to Peters.

Yep.

By way of collateral damage, the Glenn testimony has heightened the prospect of Clark being asked to appear before the privileges committee.

She should be asked to appear, so she can testify whether or not Mike Williams had any discussions with her at all in 2005 over the desirability of Owen Glenn helping out NZ First and/or Winston Peters.

The Glenn testimony also achieved what the partisan politicking by National could not do. It has linked the Peters affair to Labour in detail and in spirit, and has made the government’s behaviour towards one of its main party donors look desperately shabby. As Glenn told John Campbell on TV3, these are not the sort of people you’d want alongside you in the trenches. Because they would push you out.

And probably gnaw on your bones afterwards!

In December 2005, Williams may have given a green light for the donation only in general terms, and was almost certainly not privy to the subsequent transaction – but this happened in circumstances where he would have been fairly sure the transaction would proceed The nature of the nine floor gossip mill also makes it inconceivable that the upper echelons of the government’s parliamentary wing would not have subsequently known informally about the Glenn donation to Peters …

Of course. Williams hold back on details of donors to Labour, but something affecting a parliamentary partner would be notified to the leadership.

… the subsequent tactical choice by Labour to try and denigrate Glenn is unfortunately, all too typical. Someone, someday may make a list of the people the Labour government has abandoned over the course of this decade in the name of expediency, and its own survival. Karmically, one of those people who was being fitted for the dud parachute has now struck back. Winston, barring miracles, will be the next to be jettisoned.

That would be a long list.

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Glenn on Labour

September 10th, 2008 at 1:03 pm by David Farrar

There are multiple stories from the Press Conference. First on Stuff re Helen Clark:

“She’s very self serving … I am expendable. I wouldn’t want them in the trenches next to me. It’s not the money, its the way you are treated, then you turn the dogs on me … toothless dogs.”

The last straw would have been Mallard and Cullen casting doubts on his mental fitness.

He said Mr Williams visited him on his luxury yacht off the French coast in mid-year.

Mr Williams asked him for a job as an “administrator”, he said.

Mr Williams told him that he was a good administrator and he was “articulate”.

Mr Glenn turned him down.

But Mike is earning almost $200,000 a year from his board appointments. Why would he need a job?

And who paid for his trip to Europe to target donors? Did taxpayer money fund it through one of his boards?

Glenn described Labour Party chairman Mike Williams as a liar and a bagman for the party.

“Mr Williams is wrestling with the truth,” he has told a press conference.

It is harsh to call someone a liar, but Mike Williams has a track record. He told nine lies on Agenda about what he said at the Labour Party Conference. If you are willing to lie about what you said in front of 500 people, why wouldnt you lie about what was said at a private lunch?

In another story, Williams says:

Mr Williams said he did not discuss the donation with Prime Minister Helen Clark.

“There is never any discussion between me and Helen Clark about any political donations except those that are public.”

Now I could accept this is true for donations to your own party. The two big parties do try and shelter the leaders from this. But it would be quite another matter concerning a donation to an allied party. You see the question being asked isn’t one of money as much as one of relationships. What Glenn wanted to know is does helping Winston help Labour. Now that is very much a question for the political wing, and the Leader. And Glenn has testified that Williams and Clark speak several times a day.

How credible is it that Williams would not have mentioned to Clark in 2005, that Glenn was interested in donating to Winston?

Last night he disputed Mr Glenn’s version of events. “Mr Glenn asked me [in December 2005] whether I thought Mr Peters had any chance of winning the Tauranga petition and I said that I thought he did.

“I have no recollection of being asked or offering any comment on whether or not Mr Glenn should provide financial assistance to Mr Peters, and I certainly did not discuss that possibility with anyone else.”

Well the meal with Williams took place immediately before Glenn phoned Peters to say okay. Regardless of what Williams claims (and he is a proven liar) Glenn obviously placed huge significance on checking with Williams, and was crystal clear that he only donated because Williams said it would be helpful.

The Herald has a collection of quotes from Glenn:

“I don’t think people with forgetful memories should be Minister of Foreign Affairs.”

To be fair to Winston, I don’t think his memory is in any way flawed.

“I think people in elected positions and privileged positions need to act ethically and be trusted and I doubt he can be.”

Except with Helen, still hanging on waiting for the innocent explanation. Never mind she has known the truth for six months and could have had the facts established back in February with a phone call.

On Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen

“He’s a bully. I don’t have a warm and fuzzy feeling about him. He’s not the sort of guy I’d want to spend a weekend with on an island but he’s just following orders.”

What can one say.

And then the main Herald story:

Mr Glenn said by February this year the Prime Minister was fully aware of his donation to Winston Peters.

When asked if Helen Clark knew what the money was used for Mr Glenn said “she already knew that, Mike Williams would have told her”.

Asked what he thought of the Prime Minister, he described her as “very self-serving”, while Mike Williams, he said, “wrestles with the truth” .

And it is a myth that the PM had no choice but to accept Winston’s word. Says who? She could have asked Glenn to substantiate his claim he donated to Peters. He could have done so within hours. The fact is she chose deliberately not to inquire further, because she knew what the answer would be.

Basically Clark’s position is that she does not mind having a Minister who she is almost certain has lied to her, she just doesn’t want to have it proven he lied to her. So she just sat on it and said and did nothing.

Mr Glenn said he decided to fight back after a New Zealand First MP called him a liar in Parliament.

He said prior to being attacked, he would have “slid away quietly”

This morning he told Radio New Zealand that Labour might not have been in government without his $500,000 donation to it; “and here they are attacking me, and frankly attacking my credibility and my integrity.”

Mr Glenn said the Prime Minister had behaved out of self interest and wanted to keep Mr Peters on-side to get legislation through “and I was expendable”.

They have done more than attack his integrity and credibility. They attacked his mental sanity through backroom whispers to journalists.

And finally we have Monaco:

Earlier today, Owen Glenn told Radio New Zealand he was vetted for the position of honorary consul to Monaco and that Winston Peters supported his bid.

Mr Glenn said he had met New Zealand’s ambassador to France Sarah Dennis in Paris at her invitation where she had told him she was vetting him for the position.

“I said OK what’s your decision, she said `you seem to be alright”‘, Mr Glenn said.

In February Mr Peters rang him the day he was leaving for a trip to South Africa, Mr Glenn said. Mr Glenn was in Raglan at the time and says he has a witness to the call.

“He (Mr Peters) said; `I’m still supporting this, I want to push it through, I need a letter from you confirming that you are going to live in Monaco…”

And this is where Clark and Peters have both made huge errors of judgement. Helen Clark knew that Owen Glenn had donated to Winston Peters – he had told her. Winston was pushing for his appointment within Government. MFAT staff were vetting Glenn. And Clark did not disclose the donation to anyone – to MFAT. to the Cabinet Secretary, to the Electoral Commission, to her own colleagues who sign off on appointments, to the Registrar of the Register of Pecuniaryinary Interests. That was a huge conflict of interest. Clark as PM is meant to uphold the integrity of Government, and instead she stayed silent and set a new low.

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Hooton x 3

September 10th, 2008 at 12:33 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Hooton has taken to blogging like Madonna to sex. Lots of goodies today.

First Matthew highlights the item in Sideswipe about how a candidate’ financial agent had a brick thrown through a window at their home. The Electoral Finance Act has forced residential addresses to be used on all advertising, which is ridicolous overkill for registered political parties and their candidate.

Then Matthew calls on National to fillibuster the ETS third reading today. He think Clark will sack Peters tonight so if it is delayed until tomorrow, then there will not be the numbers for it.

He also speculated on what role Mike Williams may have played in the $250,000 offer to the Maori Party to support Labour, and calls on Tariana Turia to reveal all.

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The “someone stole Winston’s cellphone” suggestion

September 10th, 2008 at 6:33 am by David Farrar

Reading the NZ Herald this morning, it strikes me how ludicrous Labour’s attempted defence of Winston was:

Yesterday Labour MP Russell Fairbrother, a member of the committee, suggested Mr Glenn may have confused Winston Peters’ with his youngest brother Wayne in a vital phone call about the donation.

Wayne Peters laughed out loud when told of the suggestion.

Wayne Peters had the right reaction. Poor Owen – first Labour MPs suggest he can’t tell Winston apart from Sir Howard Morrison, and then they suggest he can’t tell Winston apart from Wayne Peters on the phone.

Mr Fairbrother said he had no evidence to believe it was Wayne Peters, but had asked Mr Glenn “to test his evidence”.

Of course he had no evidence. It was a desperate attempt to find a way to clear Peters. This was not an off the cuff comment made once. Glenn was asked at length by Fairbrother and Cullen about whether Peters identified himself, what did Glenn mean by a first person conversation etc etc.

After the breakfast he called Mr Peters on his cellphone – he produced the phone record yesterday – to say yes to the donation and spoke to him for more than six minutes. The call finished about 1.32 NZ time.

About eight minutes later, Mr Glenn received an email from Mr Henry saying “further to your discussion with my client at 1.30 NZ time I provide my bank details … “

Tonight Winston will explain how one of his staff members answered his mobile phone for him, impersonated Winston, negotiated the donation upwards from $70,000 to $100,000, immediately phoned or e-mailed Brian Henry to tell him about the donation, and then totally forgot to mention it to Winston.

Mr Glenn’s evidence about consulting Mr Williams contradicts Mr Williams’ claim that the first he knew of a donation was on July 12 – when the Herald published emails from Mr Glenn to PR man Steve Fisher confirming he had given a donation.

It is now apparent that Mike WIlliams, and in all probability Helen Clark, not just knew about the donation in 2005, but actually approved it. Owen Glenn was adamant on this point that he would not have donated without Labour’s okay.

This makes you wonder about who in Labour authorised the $250,000 offer to the Maori Party, in exchange for them agreeing to support Labour?

Mr Williams said last night his recollection was that they had discussed the likely outcome of Mr Peters’ electoral petition.

“I have no recollection of being asked or offering any comment on whether or not Mr Glenn should provide financial assistance to Mr Peters and I certainly did not discuss that possibility with anyone else.”

If people are having trouble working out who to believe, I suggest they re-read this post and this post regarding his performance on Agenda this year. Nine lies confusions in one interview. Plus the confusion he had over whether Owen Glenn had donated to the party since 2005. And the confusion last election over the pledge card when they told the Chief Electoral Office they would include it as an election expense and then recanted.

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The Glenn hearing

September 9th, 2008 at 3:38 pm by David Farrar

We are all queued outside waiting to be allowed in. Huge amount of media here. No sign of Glenn yet.

Glenn has arrived and we are now in the room.

Glenn has just named Williams as having agreed helping Peters would help Labour.

Also tabled an affidavit from a witness to Peters thanking Glenn.

Glenn has confirmed again he would not have donated without having the ok from Mike Williams.

There is also a phone record showing a call to or from peters office phone around the time of the donation.

My God how desperate. Russell Fairbrother is suggesting he was accidentally talking to Wayne Peters who had borrowed Winston’s cellphone and sounds like him!!

Glenn says that Mike Williams was going to clear his donation with colleagues. It is unthinkable that would not include Helen. So she may have known since 2005.

Glenn says he likes Winston who is a great character. This is about telling truth.

Cullen also pushing the notion that someone else answered Winston’s cellphone and pretended to be him.

Has just said Peters is very skilled at asking for donations. Remember Peters says he nevers solicits donations.

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Williams was on Owen’s boat

September 9th, 2008 at 1:23 pm by David Farrar

Just had confirmed from a second source indirectly that Mike Williams was on Owen Glenn’s boat – not months ago but only a few weeks ago. Williams has confirmed this it seems.

The story is he was visiting donors in London (imagine the fuss if National’s President flew overseas to solicit funds) and decided to pop on over to see Owen.

I wonder what interesting topics they may have talked about!

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