The Press on Rodney

The Press is impressed with Rodney:

It is now obvious that New Zealand First has no intention of publicly accounting for its secret funding and that, of the other parties, only ACT is willing to press the issue. …

Winston Peters had the perfect opportunity to retrieve something from the ashes when he made a statement to Parliament on Wednesday. Under standing orders he was entitled to be heard in silence and not questioned, but he squandered that opportunity by failing to clarify the issues or answer the serious questions. Instead, Peters made a rambling and confusing attack on the media, his political opponents, and shadowy evil forces he alleged were out to get him. …

Labour does not want to drive New Zealand First to the wall at this time when that would scupper the Government and perhaps prevent the re-establishment of the coalition after the election; National is keen to maintain good relations with NZF in the expectation that the Center-Right (which includes NZF) will emerge from the poll best placed to form a government. They are both praying that the electorate will eventually solve the Winston problem and remove the troublesome politician from their concerns.

The improbable figure of arises from this wasteland of principle to carry the fight against NZF and its failure to account. His request to the Serious Fraud Office for an investigation takes the issue out of the hands of the politicians and places it in the hands of an independent organisation with considerable powers. The SFO can require that evidence be produced, and it is outside the authority of the Attorney-General.

If the SFO does investigate the NZF donations, the result will be the thorough scrutiny that the issues need if the political process is to escape the charge that it shelters unethical and perhaps illegal practices.

Hide, of course, has more than just a principled interest in this business, as the unedifying abuse between him and Peters in the House last week showed. But Hide has plainly enunciated the principles involved, the justified annoyance at their possible disregard, and has made the only significant effort to have them vindicated.

If he succeeds, and Peters is forced to face the consequences of his actions, no sympathy need be expended. Peters in this scandal has confirmed his reputation as the most cynical of New Zealand politicians, a harmful influence on the nation’s public life and an unfit participant in government.

It will be delicious if the outcome of Peters’ refusal to answer the most basic questions on this issue is a boost for Rodney Hide and ACT, and oblivion for Peters!

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