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?