Paul Glass writes in the Herald:
I’m deeply concerned about two ongoing issues relating to potential corruption in New Zealand with respect to the current Labour-led Government. Both involve NZ First. …
But in an unhealthy quest for power, Labour outbid National by offering NZ First a disproportionate (NZ First only received 7.2 per cent of the votes) say in the running of NZ, offered NZ First leader Winston Peters the “baubles of office” as Foreign Minister among other roles, and agreed to establish an unprecedented $3 billion slush fund (the Provincial Growth Fund).
It is this fund that has all the hallmarks of banana republic politics. Its $3b, or $1b per annum, is an extraordinary sum of money and could fund many worthy projects. To put it into context we could double Pharmac’s budget each year, build 150 new schools, provide breakfasts for kids at lower decile schools, eradicate all pests, fund 120,000 hip operations or provide almost free public transport to all New Zealanders; all actions that might make a meaningful difference to NZ, unlike the fund.
A good focus on the opportunity cost of the Fund. Much of the fund is being spent on trying to win Shane Jones an electorate seat. Think what a doubling of Pharmac’s budget would mean for hundreds and thousands of New Zealanders.
The second, and potentially related issue, is the revelation that the funding arm of NZ First, the NZ First Foundation, appears to be in breach of at least the spirit, if not the actual letter of the law, with respect to receiving political donations. This matter has now been referred by the police to the Serious Fraud Office for investigation.
The Electoral Commission has said they believe it has breached the letter of the law.
The fact that to date Ardern has refused to ask her coalition partner even the most basic questions, or investigate the matter in any way, is deeply concerning and would be unacceptable in any other walk of life. Whether through political naivety or an unhealthy hunger for power, Labour is setting a very poor example for all other NZ entities.
See no evil, hear no evil.
Before I get accused of bias myself, I should point out that I voted for Labour in the last election so have no political axe to grind in this case.
Corruption is bad, no matter who does it.