The NZ Herald editorial warns NZ First they are onto a hiding for nothing if they do not pay back the $160,000 the Auditor-General found last year had been illegally spent on their behalf.
NZ First certainly have a right to challenge the AGs finding in court. But it is looking farcical that five months on they still haven’t managed to make a decision and solicit a legal opinion on the issue. Either they are incompetent beyond belief or are stalling for time.
Even if they do decide to seek a legal review, it is possible that by their own actions it is now impossible. You see if one went along to the court today and said is this expenditure on these pamphlets and ads legal, the court could only answer “yes” because of the validating legislation.
Now one could try and ask the court a hypothethical question such as “if the law had not been changed, would this have been legal” but my understanding is the Court will say “Piss off Noddy, we do not give hypothethical answers on hypothethical laws”
I welcome any pointers to cases where Courts have given a hypothethical ruling on a hypothethical law. Perhaps they do if they are not very busy, but I would be surprised.
So if the validating legislation has made any court challenge from NZ First pointless, then there is no reason for them to delay paying it back.