Raybon Kan on NZ First

December 17th, 2007 at 8:02 am by David Farrar

Raybon Kan has fun with the NZ First donation:

So New Zealand First has made a donation of $158,000 to Starship hospital. By coincidence, $158,000 is the precise amount of taxpayers’ money the auditor-general said New Zealand First spent illegally in the last election. Does this mean New Zealand First is off the hook?

It’s an interesting tactic if it works. If you’re done for fraud, can you just write a cheque to a charity and have it all go away? If you get a tax bill can you pay the exact amount to Starship? If you get a jail sentence can you sentence yourself to Starship? Why not take the money to one ward in Starship and get the kids to fight for it?

Every political party should try the same stunt. Take money from Parliamentary Services and write large cheques to whomever they want. Don’t call it misappropriation of public funds. Don’t call it embezzlement. Call it generosity.

But it’s easy to be generous with other people’s money. This is why politicians love stadiums that will be used once. It’s not their money.

Every MP should follow Winston’s lead. Then we’d see MMP in real action. Instead of having a government policy, or some legitimate reason to spend the money, each party should simply write cheques according to their own whim, and charge them to Parliamentary Services. Let the charities campaign for the misappropriated funds. Roll up! Roll up! Get your Parliamentary Services slush money here! It’s disturbing that a former treasurer thinks this is OK. Wouldn’t he be the first one up with a winebox full of documents if somebody else did this?

Shouldn’t he have some clue about the distinction between New Zealand’s money and New Zealand First’s money? Did nobody write him a memo on the subject? It’s an excusable mistake I suppose. New Zealand is such a similar name to New Zealand First. There’s only one word different. Of course, you’d get the cheque accounts confused.Then again, maybe that’s why he chose the name.

If Winston does not pick up the public mood on this one, he will be fighting a losing battle next year.  Instead of getting to debate NZ First’s policy achievements (1,000 extra police etc) they will be debating the $158,000 time after time.  If he donates it to another charity (if one can be found) the issue will not go away.

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Winston hates the Herald

December 16th, 2007 at 9:43 am by David Farrar

Winston unleashes a torrent against the Herald:

Peters said the rejection came after “fuss” by “minions of foreign-owned interests”, referring to the country’s main newspaper owners, APN – publishers of the NZ Herald and the Herald on Sunday – and Fairfax.

“It’s all very well for a bunch of chardonnay-drinking, pinky-finger-lifting elitists to come up with their view. It’s the ultimate in elitist arrogance. There is no politics in this.”

It is typical Peters. Well if there is no politics in this, why not give the money back to the taxpayer to whom it is morally owed?

Matt McCarten is unimpressed also:

But of all of his antics, dropping off a cheque for $158,000 to Starship children’s hospital last week must be the most blatant example of cynical populism I can recall.

Mind you, the NZ First’s leader’s latest hypocrisy is consistent with his past behaviour. Peters has always had an uncanny knack of being able to take a strong principled position one moment and, with a straight face, do the exact opposite without claiming he has done anything wrong.

During the last election he defiantly claimed NZ First wouldn’t sell out for the baubles of office. Within weeks he was our Foreign Minister, claiming he wasn’t a member of the Government because he didn’t go to Cabinet meetings, and his other MPs remained on the backbenches.

The Auditor-General’s original charge was that our politicians had unethically used public money to buy votes. Peters has pulled off a breath-taking feat. Not only did he misuse money two years ago, but he is using the same money to fund publicity he hopes will get him elected again next year. It remains to be seen if enough New Zealanders vote for a party with this sort of morality compass.

One of the better summing ups I have seen.

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More on Starship donation returned

December 15th, 2007 at 8:35 am by David Farrar
  1. One can show your support for them at http://www.starship.org.nz/donation.
  2. Winston is still determined to give the money to anyone except The Parliamentary Service. Someone should set up an online petition we can sign saying we will never ever donate to whatever charity accepts his money as it is morally owed to the taxpayer.
  3. Remember United Future still owes around $50,000 also.  E-mail and phone them and ask when they will be paying.
  4. Notwithstanding (2) should the Free Speech Coalition write to Winston saying that we would be happy to accept his money :-)
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Starship gives money back to NZ First

December 14th, 2007 at 11:28 pm by David Farrar

Oh this has become a PR disaster for NZ First. Starship Hospital has now rejected their $158,000 donation:

“It’s most unfortunate that the money wasn’t given in the spirit of genuine philanthropy, but rather it appears to gain political capital and media leverage,” he said.

“We have decided it’s in the best interest of the Starship Foundation and the sick children of New Zealand to return the money to NZ First.”

This is an absolute humiliation.

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Herald calls on Starship to give the money back

December 14th, 2007 at 7:54 am by David Farrar

Winston’s stunt may be backfiring. The Herald editorial is blunt:

The Starship children’s hospital should immediately return the cheque it has received from the New Zealand First Party. This money is public property.

Mr Peters has not technically broken the law but only because he has used his party’s votes in Parliament to help legalise the spending at the last election that the Auditor-General believes to be wrong. He has always disagreed with the Auditor-General’s ruling and had wanted to contest it in the courts. But he has dropped this action, he says, because he could not have gotten a decision before the election next year and did not want to face the election accused of refusing to pay back “stolen money”.

This claim that they could not have got a hearing in time is one media should treat with suspicion.  The Auditor-General ruled in the latter half of 2006.  I have not seen anything to suggest that one could not have got a court hearing within two years.  For example the lawsuit against the Electoral Finance Bill only has a six month wait for a hearing.

The other point to remember is that there was a lawsuit which would have tested whether the Auditor-General was correct.  Darnton vs Clark.  With regards to the Labour pledge card at least, this would have resulted in a court ruling whether or not the expenditure was legal.

NZ First voted to kill off the lawsuit, voting against an amendment that would have stopped the validating legislation retrospectively killing off the lawsuit.

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NZ First paying back the money – but to Star Ship

December 12th, 2007 at 3:03 pm by David Farrar

I hear that NZ First have announced they are paying back the $158,000 – but instead of to the taxpayer – to Starship Hospital.

Assuming this is not a tax dodge (ie someone donating on their behalf who can claim a tax deduction) I can’t say I have huge issues with that – hell it just shows that not even NZ First trust Michael Cullen to spend their money wisely! :-)

But let’s hope we do see proof of this, and that NZ First itself paid – not a donor on their behalf.

This still leaves United Future to pay back $50,000 or so.  Maybe they could take a break from getting misrepresenting the Electoral Finance Bill to pay their remaining $50,000 back.

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Connell for NZ First?

December 12th, 2007 at 9:30 am by David Farrar

Stuff has an NZPA story which speculates Rakaia MP Brian Connell may stand for NZ First at the next election.

Certainly Winston Peters was going on and on about David Carter’s selection as the Selwyn candidate a lot yesterday. But Peters hates Carter so it wasn’t that surprising.

Considering how strongly Peters has campaigned against people defecting parties, and in fact got a special law passed to allows such MPs to be expelled, the amount of hypocrisy involved if Connell does defect to Peters will be considerable.

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NZ First in trouble

December 6th, 2007 at 10:35 am by David Farrar

NZ First has three traditional areas of support.  They are:

  1. Elderly grey power type voters
  2. Provincial and rural conservatives
  3. Maori

The Herald reports today that their support for the Electoral Finance Bill is going to lose them support from two core groups which have supported them previously – Grey Power and the Sensible Sentencing Trust.

First Grey Power:

Grey Power national vice-president Don Chapman said the organisation was apolitical but he would not be surprised if NZ First loyalists within the organisation’s 95,000 members turned away from the party too.

“I would be very, very surprised if [Mr Peters] was supported, because we are very anti that bill, and the implications that the bill would have on us as an organisation.”

Then the Sensible Sentencing Trust:

Garth McVicar – national spokesman for the Sensible Sentencing Trust … said yesterday: “Our stance will certainly be that we don’t see much point in supporting NZ First any further. I would imagine we’ve got thousands more members than [NZ First] have throughout New Zealand, so I think they’re dead in the water, realistically. I think Winston’s just totally lost the plot.”

And this was in response to Winston saying:

Mr Peters responded that [law and order spokesman] Ron Mark and he had worked closely with Mr McVicar for many years and would continue to do so.

NZ First are killed off if they do not make 5% next election, or win Tauranga back (much harder).  They’ve just pissed off their two biggest supporters which will make their job all the harder.

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Where’s our $157,000 Winston?

December 2nd, 2007 at 11:06 am by David Farrar

In October it was reported:

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has announced that the party will repay $157,000 of taxpayer funds it was found to have misspent at the last election.

Mr Peters made the announcement at the start of the party’s annual convention in Taupo this morning.

He said the transfer of funds to Parliament’s coffers would be made in November when party term deposits rolled over.

Well November is over so where is it? I mean it was bad enough that we’ve had to wait this long just so NZ First can continue to make money from it, rather than break a term deposit.  If there even was a term deposit, that is.

Winston has announced he is going to stand in Tauranga.  I hope lots of people will remind him and voters of the two years it took him to repay taxpayers money.  Also of his support for the Electoral Finance Bill.

Incidentally IRD interest rates are 14.24% for money owing.  If that was applied to NZ First for the 2 years 3 three months since they incurred the illegal expenditure, they would owe $50,302 in interest on top of the $157,000.

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Young NZ First recruiting

October 29th, 2007 at 4:14 pm by David Farrar

youngnzf.jpg

Sent in by a reader. Very good.

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NZ First’s Youth Branch

October 29th, 2007 at 9:29 am by David Farrar

NZ First has established a youth branch.

It will be open to any party member under the age of 75.

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NZ First prefers Labour

October 28th, 2007 at 3:49 pm by David Farrar

Just as I have always regarded the Maori Party as ideologically closer to Labour, I think much the same of NZ First – and Ron Mark has confirmed this.  On Agenda today he said:

Labour’s probably the closest now to our economic policy than they’ve ever been

Now there is more to working together than economic policy, but that is pretty core.

It will be very interesting to see what policy NZ First adopts going into 2008.  Will it be to give first preference to the largest party again? Will it want coalition (Ron Mark indicated a preference for that) and on what terms?

To ensure a change of Government needs more than National getting more votes than Labour.  It requires National/ACT/United Future to get more votes than Labour/Progressive/Greens/Maori Party/NZ First. Because I suspect in a bidding contest, Labour will be more willing to do whatever it takes for a 4th term.  Student allowances for all Maori students – fine. An extra $20 a week for pensioners – fine. 

And let’s not forget what a huge advantage the Electoral Finance Bill will be to the Government, if passed.  The Government advertising campaigns will blossom, as everyone is restricted.

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NZ First to pay it back

October 27th, 2007 at 1:10 pm by David Farrar

At long last, a year or so after other parties agreed to pay it back, NZ First has explicitly stated they will pay back the $186,000 of illegal expenditure.

But get this.  Their latest excuse for why it has not already been paid back is that the money is in a term deposit which only matures in November.

Hello, it is the simplest thing in the world to break a term deposit.  The only penalty is you gain less interest.  So really what NZ First are saying is we wish to continue to earn money on the $186,000.

When they finally do pay it back, I will calculate what the interest should have been.

Incidentially United Future are yet to pay all of their illegal expenditure back also.

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I’m backing Winston

October 13th, 2007 at 8:45 am by David Farrar

On the issue of the ban on the Fijian soccer player, I’m with Winston and the Government.
For sanctions to work, they have to be effective and wide ranging.

Furthermore, if comparing the NZ Government to FIFA, I have to say that even Helen is a babe in arms when it comes to corruption, compared to FIFA.  They are the true professionals!

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It’s Senior Civil War

October 12th, 2007 at 12:34 pm by David Farrar

War has broken out amongst seniors.  Their beloved general has called some of them traitors.  A civil war looms.  From NZPA:

Wellington, Oct 12 NZPA – New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has accused a faction within Grey Power of running an orchestrated campaign against him and the SuperGold Card.

 Mr Peters today told an audience of Bay of Plenty Grey Power members he was aware some members had mounted a campaign against him and the card.

“We are also aware that there is a so called `ginger group’ within Grey Power that has run a fairly orchestrated campaign against the card and me personally,” he said.

Oh no, how dare they.  A senior citizen attacked Winston – personally.  They must be found and shot.

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Muldoon Alert No 2

October 12th, 2007 at 6:45 am by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins blogs on Winston Peters this week:

 Peters unfairly got it into his head that his troubles started when Espiner did a story about the emails; an accusation which somewhat skirted around the point that it was National which released the emails in the first place.

He then proffered as evidence of his TV One theory the fact that there were no parliamentary questions set down for him today on the troop saga – another omission for which he appeared to personally blame Espiner.

Now, while most journalists would give their right arm for a shot at writing up the day’s list of parliamentary questions, the arcane rules of Parliament insist that these remain the preserve of the opposition.

Peters then insisted that Espiner either start behaving responsibly or stay home.

It’s never been entirely clear whether those same arcane rules allow MPs to toss journalists out of the parliamentary precinct on a whim. But if anyone was inclined to run a test case, it would be Peters.

I suspect the difference between Muldoon and Peters is that Muldoon just wanted to ban some journalists, while Winston would happily ban them all if he could :-)

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Peters cornered

October 11th, 2007 at 6:22 am by David Farrar

That’s the headline in The Press.

It is very clear Peters misled Parliament.  He should admit he did so, and apologise.  To be fair to him, it wasn’t a deliberate lie, but a failing from his private office.  But the Minister is 100% responsible for their office.

Here is what Peters was asked in August:

Parliament’s records on August 16 show that McCully had asked Peters if he could assure Parliament that “at no stage did any ministry official communicate any information to him or his office about the planned Air New Zealand charters”.

And it is clear as daylight that a ministry official did communicate information to his office.

One does wonder what proportion of reports do not get read by anyone in the Minister’s office?  It is certainly not standard practice in most offices.

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NZ First not happy

September 7th, 2007 at 6:42 am by David Farrar

Wow.  Mark Burton has blundered again.  Now that is not so surprising.  What is surprising is how NZ First is treating it.

Burton announced the results of the Rates Inquiry this week.  He overlooked that it was set up at NZ First’s bequest and didn’t even give them an advance copy, let alone acknowledge their role.  Shabby.

But instead of a private note of complaint, NZ First attacked and humuliated the Minister in the House – as detailed in Audrey Young’s blog.  And this attack on a Government Minister would have been approved by Foreign Minister Winston Peters.  Not quite the recipe for stable Government.  Here are some of the questions asked:

“Has he or his staff been briefed on the details of the Confidence and Supply Agreement with New Zealand First, in particular the part that says: That the relationship between New Zealand First and the government will be based on good faith and no surprises, and does he believe that his failure to provide a timely pre-public release briefing to New Zealand First, his failure to inform New Zealand First of the press conference until the day it was to take place, the failure of his staff to send a copy of the report when they had promised to do so and his complete exclusion of any reference to New Zealand First’s role in securing the inquiry demonstrates acting in good faith with no surprises?”

“Does the Minister understand what the terms good faith and no surprises mean, and if his poor judgment in this matter jeopardises the otherwise constructive relationship between New Zealand First and the government, why does he not do the honourable thing and resign?”

Yes, NZ First did just call on Mark Burton to resign.  That is an unprecedented call from a party with Ministers in the Government.

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Not so Super

August 30th, 2007 at 7:08 am by David Farrar

The concept of a card for Seniors is not a bad one. In fact it was National’s policy in 2005, as well as NZ First. But it sounds like the implementation leaves a lot to be desired:

Lower Hutt Grey Power treasurer John Cable has a simple message for SuperGold card architect Winston Peters, the NZ First leader. “He could have done better.”

Ted Duffill, immediate past-president of the Hastings-Havelock North branch of the lobby group, was more abrupt.

“It’s the biggest con job since Orson Welles broadcast that the world was being invaded by Martians,”

“It’s disappointing,” said Mr Cable, 83. “… It’s going to go down with pensioners like a lead balloon because of the very narrow range of things it offers.”

Mr Duffill, a Korean War veteran, said his local Grey Power booklet offered better deals, and he was bemused by the “veterans” SuperGold card, which carried no special benefits.

“The only difference is that it has a ‘v’ on it. I asked why would I want a card with a ‘v’ on it, and they said, ‘So people know you are a veteran’.”

Hope Winston wasn’t relying on the Gold Card to get him re-elected.

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The Baubles of Office

August 14th, 2007 at 10:29 pm by David Farrar

TV3 has a story that Foreign Minister and NZ First Leader Winston Peters is going to appoint as our next High Commissioner to the Cook Islands, a NZ First MP – Brian Donnelly.

Now that’s a mighty big bauble of office.

Brian is a hell of a decent guy, is actually of Cooks descent and will I am sure be a most conscientious High Commissioner.  But that isn’t the point.  The point is that he would not be appointed unless Winston was Foreign Minister.

And the point is that Winston before the last election made an explicit commitment that he was shunning the baubles of office.  And not only if he not shunning them for himself, he is now handing them out to his mates.

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Harawira has a point

August 14th, 2007 at 10:00 pm by David Farrar

Hone Harawira has been told he must refund half his airfare as he only stayed for half the select committee business.

Harawira had a point though that NZ First MPs had a cheek in raising the issue, considering they have yet to pay back even a single cent of the $160,000 they owe the taxpayer.

Harawira should take the moral high ground and table a cheque in Parliament tomorrow and then ask for the Leave of the House to debate why NZ First has not yet paid back their $160,000.

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Winston to North Korea

August 1st, 2007 at 1:05 pm by David Farrar

Yes Winston is off to North Korea to see how NZ can assist development in North Korea.

I do hope he remembers to chat to them about human rights, when he is there, considering they are arguably the most repressive regime on the planet.

Maybe we could do a swap of Ministers as a gesture of good-will.  North Korea could lend us a Minister to explain how the Electoral Finance Bill is ofr our own good, and Winston could stay in North Korea and explain how all their problems are caused by high immigration (for those who don’t know North Korea has nil voluntary immigration).

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Winston on You Tube

July 27th, 2007 at 5:49 pm by David Farrar

This should be saved for election year!

Hat Tip: Mike Heine

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Peters vs Shirley

July 22nd, 2007 at 12:17 pm by David Farrar

The beloved Foreign Minister took time out from his travels to urge the Researched Medicines Industry Association to rescind the appointment of Ken Shirley as their new CEO.

A very petty thing to do.  Winston claims it is because Shirley is not a supporter of the health system.

It couldn’t at all be related to the fact that Peters is trying to sue Shirley.

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Connell to NZ First?

July 22nd, 2007 at 11:58 am by David Farrar

Irene Chapple in the SST writes that NZ First is trying to get Brian Connell to defect to them.  An interesting move for a party which has previously insisted MPs who defect should resign from Parliament.

NZ First might want to be careful about getting what they want.

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