Danyl on the Winston donation scandal

Danyl McL writes:

Stuff doesn’t name the donors in the document – one source has told me that both Winston Peters and the donors could be horribly embarrassed if identities were made public. But Stuff says the foundation received 26 donations of $325,900 in just a five month period, adding: “Donors to the foundation include food manufacturers, racing interests, forestry owners and wealthy property developers.”

Winston Peters is the minister of racing. Shane Jones is the minister of forestry. If the food manufacturers are exporters then they might be impacted by Peters’ decisions as minister of foreign affairs. New Zealand First has publicly, repeatedly, announced that they were responsible for killing the Ardern government’s proposed capital gains tax. The public has a right to know that they were being funded by property developers.

This is why disclosure is important.

When Winston Peters was minister of foreign affairs and racing under the previous Labour government it was revealed that he’d taken donations from Sir Bob Jones, Sir Owen Glenn and the Velas, a wealthy family prominent in the racing industry. The donations were made through an organisation called the Spencer Trust, which was run by Peters’ brother. An investigation by Parliament’s Privileges Committee found that Winston Peters had attempted to conceal the donations and then lied about it, and the committee voted to censure him. The scandal dominated the 2008 election. John Key ruled out working with Winston Peters. Helen Clark didn’t. Labour lost, and New Zealand First was voted out of parliament.

Will history repeat itself?

New Zealand First’s coalition partners have dreaded this moment for two years. The prime minister’s instinct will be to distance herself from the scandal and hope that it goes away. “We assume that the law has been followed.” “It’s a matter for the Electoral Commission.” “I am not responsible for the New Zealand First Party.” And so on. But the matter of whether or not she presides over a government linked to allegations of “corrupt or illegal practices” is not a matter for another party or office. The integrity of the government is the prime minister’s responsibility.

Why is there no sanctuary in the Kermadecs? Is this because of donations to NZ First from the fishing industry?

One of the things that led to the end of the Clark government was the endless drip feed. The allegations of secrecy and deceit swirling around NZ First just kept coming. And now this government is trapped in the same political hostage situation, with the same politician, facing accusations of engaging in the exact same practices. An early election might be worth the risk if the alternative is a year of ongoing leaks and allegations resulting in a contest that makes Simon Bridges prime minister.

I hope and trust Labour will ignore Danyl and let this drag on for many more months.

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