A nice suspension

As I understand it, Helen Clark has suspended Winston Peters only from his portfolios, but not as a Minister. In other words he still gets his normal pay, his housing and transport allowances, his office, his ministerial funding and most importantly of all his staff, except the portfolio specific ones.

This means he gets to run his election campaign with full Ministerial resources, and they don’t even have any Ministerial duties to attend to.

John Key makes clear that his ruling out Winston is not tied to the SFO investigation:

Mr Key said questions still remained around the 2003 parliamentary inquiry into the scampi fisheries quota and whether Mr Peters had misled the public in relation to the Glenn donation.

He also questioned Mr Peters’ assertion today that Sir Robert’s donation had found its way to NZ First. If that was the case then why was it not declared, he said.

Mr Peters’ credibility had been severely dented and he would now find it hard to trust his word.

“We’ve had so many instances now where Winston Peters’ version of events just doesn’t stack up with the version of events presented by others.

“Really the call we made on Wednesday to effectively cut Winston Peters and New Zealand First loose wasn’t a call we made easily or lightly. We did it with the full knowledge it may well cost National an opportunity to be in government,” he said.

“I would find it enormously difficult trusting the word of Winston Peters.”

Key picks up a point I have made previously. The Herald today says:

The statement, several pages long, was generated by the trust and showed incomings and outgoings. It showed money from the Vela brothers and Sir Robert Jones going in, then being paid to New Zealand First.

If this is true, then NZ First have filed false donation returns for years on end.  As Winston Peters was railing against secret trusts, he had one which was funding NZ First. If what Peter WIlliams says is true, then how did the Auditor for NZ First ever sign off the donation returns? Or is there some explanation as to how Bob Jones gave $25,000 to the Spencer Trust, the Spencer Trust gave it to NZ First and NZ First does not declare a donation from the Spencer Trust?

Key again makes his stance clear in another Herald story:

“From our point of view,” he said, “the appointment of a minister to Cabinet has to be done on the basis that as Prime Minister I can look that person in the eye and have confidence that I can rely on their word.

“In the case of Winston Peters, I’m just not confident I can do that.”

Yet Helen is. How can anyone in NZ really think Peters was telling the truth when he said in July 2008 that he only first knew of the Glenn donation that day? I mean Helen Clark told him about it in February 2008, even if he didn’t actually know about it since it was solicited in 2005.

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