Kudos to the NZ Herald for following up on NZ First who are the only party in Parliament who have yet to agree to pay back the money identified by the Auditor-General as unlawful expenditure.
It has been 60 days since Winston Peters said he wanted time to consult lawyers. He is refusing to comment on whether this has happened but it seems unlikely for not even his Deputy Leaders knows if it has.
NZ First has four options available to it:
1) Pay the money back
2) Refuse to pay the money back, and take the consequences at the next election as every NZF candidate gets pilloried for this
3) Seek a judicial review of the Auditor-General’s findings (which may now be difficult as the law has now changed)
4) Convince the Auditor-General to change his mind on some expenditure, lowering their $157,934 bill (however this should have been done before the final report and may be too late), and then paying back the new sum
In one sense I should hope they go for (2) because it would wipe them out of Parliament, but I think it would be a terrible example to other parties who are paying the money back, or have paid it back. And putting aside Winston, there are some good people in NZ First.