A raft of multimillionaire rich-listers are among the funders of Winston Peters’ NZ First party, donating large and undisclosed sums to a slush fund now being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office.
Stuff can reveal a longer list of donors to the NZ First Foundation up to April 2019 – which appears to operate as a political slush fund – based on Foundation documents seen by Stuff. It includes New Zealand’s richest man, Graeme Hart, and the billion-dollar Spencer family. …
NZ First has traditionally pitched itself to voters as a party for grassroots Kiwis in regional New Zealand, a party keen to trim the excesses of neo-liberal capitalism.
Former NZ First MP Doug Woolerton, a trustee of the NZ First Foundation and a government lobbyist, told the Politik website last year that the party has “always thought [its] constituency was the guy who owns the shop, the guy who fixes the tractors”.
“It’s not the farmers. It’s the people who service the farmers who do the grunt work day to day,” he said.
But the donations show NZ First retains the support of some of New Zealand’s business elite and wealthiest individuals.
This is a key point. NZ First doesn’t just get a bit of support from the uber wealthy. It is absolutely reliant on that funding.
The $500,000 from the major donors is well over half of NZ First’s total income. One donor who gave $105,000 represents around 20% of their declared income. The same donor who had the Government do a law change favourable to them.
In no other party, do you get such reliance on a small number of wealthy donors. Take National for example. They declared $4.5 million in donations in 2017. On top of that would be another million or so in membership fees and donations that average $50 to $100.
So a $15,000 donation to National represents 0.3% of their income. It probably gets you a nice christmas card from the party president, but not a lot of influence.
However NZ First would be in massive financial strife if it doesn’t keep its handful of uber wealthy donors happy.
So maybe the disclosure limit shouldn’t be a fixed amount such as $15,000 but a percentage of total income. Say 0.5%? If any donation represents more than 0.5% of a party’s total income then it must be disclosed?