• 2021-02-28 04:24:14
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    Ardern and Shaw silent on Peters and NZ First concerns

    Also: Jacinda Ardern’s silence on Winston Peters is deafening

    Jacinda Ardern is yet to say anything at all about the fact the Electoral Commission made absolutely clear on Monday that the way NZ First was treating donations to its foundations was wrong.

    Instead of properly taking this on, Ardern has hidden, as politicians often do, behind the perceived inappropriateness of commenting while some process is still active.

    Following the Electoral Commission’s finding, Ardern would have been totally within her rights to say, at the very least, that she thought these donations should have been declared to the commission. She could have said she was disappointed that a coalition partner appeared not to have been as fulsome as it could have been with informing the authorities – all without alleging any kind of crime. Trying to hide your donations, even legally, is a political act that politicians should be happy to talk about.

    This silence got even louder on Thursday when it became clear that NZ First had some kind of involvement in two covertly taken photographs of journalists reporting on the Foundation story, which found their way onto a right-wing blog. Peters told Magic Talk on Tuesday that “we took the photographs just to prove that’s the behaviour going on”, but later backtracked to say a supporter just happened to see the journalists and thought he or she should snap a photo.

    When a politician’s story keeps changing it warrants more suspicion that something deserves exposure.

    The thing is, the Cabinet Manual does have a section about ministers upholding and being seen to uphold “the highest ethical standards” at all times, not just when doing ministerial business. Ardern has all the ammo she needs to give Peters a dressing-down over this, but instead she defers. Things don’t have to be illegal to be wrong.

    Worse, this rot of silence has also infected the Green Party, which, as a confidence and supply partner, has plenty of legitimate room to criticise such tactics. You don’t need to tear the Government up or demand that Peters is fired – you can just say what the journalists’ union said on Friday, that Peters needs to explain himself and apologise.

    Instead the Greens just talk about how the law needs to be changed – which most people agree with, but isn’t the point. The topic at hand isn’t underhanded but lawful behaviour, it’s stuff that is potentially illegal – hence the police referral. The party should grow back its spine.

    There is quite a lot of pressure on the Greens online to speak up.

    It is blindingly obvious why Ardern is so blind to Peters’ actions. He is not the kind of man to take a telling-off sitting down, and it would probably all get messier as Peters extracted some kind of utu for her daring to criticise him.

    But she is the leader of this Government, and of a party that is vastly larger in both power and popularity. Her words set the standard of behaviour for ministers – she is in this sense the most powerful political pundit we have. It’s well past time she found that voice.

    But that doesn’t look likely unless someone like Helen Clark starts tweeting about it.

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    Will political foxes reform electoral and transparency laws?

    Two SFO investigations into party donations, and multiple failures to fulfil openness and transparency pledges, suggests that our political parties and MPs need better laws to make them comply with more honesty and openness. The problem is, the political foxes make the laws to limit themselves – and then find ways to circumvent and ignore.

    How political donations are disclosed, plus the Official Information Act are two things that need revised. There is no chance of that happening before the election, but will something be done by the next Government (and hopefully with the support of the whole parliament)?

    ODT editorial: Keeping their noses clean

    On Monday, the SFO, already with its hands full dealing with complaints about National Party funding arrangements which have resulted in four people facing charges (but not the party itself), had the Electoral Commission file on the New Zealand First Foundation passed on to it by the police for further investigation.

    While it is difficult to paint a rosy picture of a situation where two of the country’s major political parties have found themselves under investigation, there is something heartening about this.

    Politicians like to quote Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, which regularly places New Zealand high in its rankings of the least corrupt countries in the world.

    It is because investigations such as the ones the SFO have undertaken are permitted, because public scrutiny of political donations is expected and the highest amounts are disclosed publicly, because political parties are obliged to disclose their expenses, that New Zealand can maintain this reputation.

    And because party officials with consciences are prepared to whistleblow on questionable practices?

    But that does not mean that all is well.

    It obviously isn’t.

    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has suggested a full independent look at political donation laws, which would be a beginning but only a beginning.

    Every general election is subject to a subsequent select committee inquiry, but the assessment of the 2017 election was rendered somewhat farcical by constant delays and wholesale politicisation of the process.

    Unfortunately politicisation and delays are ways that politicians avoid anything being done to curb their excesses.

    Justice Minister Andrew Little, who assigns projects to what is an independent crown entity, might consider electoral law as something the commission, or another equally as high-powered independent legal committee, could profitably examine.

    This election is already tainted with allegations of wrongdoing before the campaign officially begins, no matter how many Facebook transparency agreements political parties sign up to.

    To better serve the voters they seek to represent, politicians need to rise above their partisan divide and work towards a suite of electoral laws for 2023.

    But will the foxes do anything to guard the political henhouse? Or will they continue to flout the intent of the current laws, and what the electorate expects of them?

    A start would be to get each party to commit to doing something in the next term – but that will only work if the follow up and actually do what they promise.


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    Government announce bottom of cliff emergency housing measures

    Recognising that problems of homelessness and the difficulty of getting affordable housing haven’t been resolved, the Government has announced more emergency housing measures – and keep blaming the ‘last nine years’ again, despite property prices climbing right through the last three government tenures.

    Government steps up action to prevent homelessness

    • 1000 new transitional housing places delivered by end of year to reduce demand for emergency motel accommodation.
    • Introduce 25% of income payment, after 7 days, for those in emergency motel accommodation to bring in line with other forms of accommodation support.
    • Over $70m extra to programmes that prevents those at risk of losing their rentals becoming homeless and support people out of motels and into permanent accommodation.
    • Alongside these immediate actions, there is a long-term plan of action to address and reduce homelessness.

    More vulnerable New Zealanders will be moved from emergency motel accommodation to transitional housing as the Government steps up efforts to prevent and reduce homelessness.

    The Aotearoa New Zealand Homelessness Action Plan, released today, will also see an increase of 1,000 transitional housing places by the end of the year, adding to the over 1,300 places already created since the Government was formed, further reducing the reliance on leased motels for emergency accommodation.

    Using attack as a form of defence the inevitable blaming of the last government.

    “This Government inherited a homelessness crisis decades in the making when we took office, that will take time to fix. The previous Government left us with a chronic shortage of houses and were selling off state houses that people desperately needed,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

    “We campaigned on tackling housing and homelessness and we are delivering. This Government has put a public housing building programme into action on a scale that hasn’t been seen in New Zealand for 40 years.

    A claim to have addressed the living in cars crisis.

    “On coming into office, our immediate priority was to get people out of sleeping in cars and garages or on the street and into safe and warm accommodation.” Jacinda Ardern said.

    “Over $70 million in this package is dedicated to programmes that are proven to work in helping vulnerable New Zealander’s to stay in their homes and not end up on the streets.

    Two years later a lack of housing is still a problem.:

    “This next step in our plan aims to both prevent people becoming homeless in the first place and reduce the reliance on motels for emergency accommodation by increasing the supply of transitional housing,” Associate Housing Minister Kris Faafoi said.

    The full set of measures are detailed in the Aotearoa New Zealand Homelessness Action Plan https://www.hud.govt.nz/community-and-public-housing/support-for-people-in-need/homelessness-action-plan/

    Details of Aotearoa New Zealand Homelessness Action Plan package, backed by over $300m of extra funding, include:

    • $175m to deliver 1,000 additional transitional housing places by the end of 2020
    • $25.6m extra to the Sustaining Tenancies programme to help those at risk of losing their rental with practical support including budget advice, property maintenance, and mental health and addiction support
    • $20m to work with Māori to prevent homelessness & expand housing supply that delivered by Māori
    • $17.5m to support young people leaving Oranga Tamariki care into accommodation with wrap around support services
    • $16.3m to help acute mental health and addiction inpatients transition into the community with housing and other wrap-around support
    • $13.5m to pilot a rapid re-housing approach for people receiving Emergency Housing Special Needs Grants
    • $19.8 million to expand intensive case manager or navigator support services for people in emergency housing longer than 7 nights
    • $8.7 million for a new housing broker service to connect with local landlords and help more MSD clients secure private rental homes
    • $740,000 to fund programmes to help people gain skills and confidence to secure and manage a private rental home
    • $9.3 million to support the wellbeing needs of children in emergency housing, such paying for transport to school or early childhood education

    One thing has caused consternation from the left:

    Additionally, to ensure parity with other tenants in social housing, a 25% of income payment will be introduced for people staying in motels for longer than 7 days.

    No Right Turn: Labour’s festering Neoliberalism

    …the “contribution” will be 25% of a “client’s” income, exactly what they’d be paying if they were in a state house with individual bedrooms and a proper kitchen and a backyard rather than a shitty motel.

    What stinks is the reason for it: if you read the Cabinet Paper (paragraphs 63-68), its intended to “support a reduction in the reliance on motels” and produce “behavioural changes” which will supposedly reduce the cost of the programme. In other words, it will cause people to either leave those shitty motels earlier than they otherwise would have, or not ask for assistance in the first place.

    None of this fixes the big problem – the continued climb in property prices and rental costs.

    Post image

    From https://www.reddit.com/r/newzealand/comments/f36cp8/yelp/

    That’s something that past governments plus the current government have failed to deal with.

    Some factors are outside government control, but one huge problem remains – the Resource Management Act makes it slow and costly to make more land available for new housing.

    And one problem with the RMA is that it allows small numbers of people to hold things up. One example is playing out in Dunedin now. The 2nd Generation District Plan was notified in september 2015. After a lengthy submission process decisions on the 2GP were notified on 7 November 2018.

    Since then one small group of people have appealed, have changed their appeals a number of times, have failed to come to an agreement through mediation, and currently after more changes are headed to a hearing in the Environment Court probably about June. There have already been 9 filings on this one appeal so far this year. Over a thousand properties are impacted, with no development possible until this is resolved.

    The Dunedin City Council are aware of an urgent need for more land for building, and are trying to get it resolved, but have had to follow RMA processes that allow people to oppose and delay.

    There is no sign of this RMA problem being fixed, hence the need for emergency housing measures being tacked on to previous emergency housing measures.

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    Winston Peters “we took the photos” used in ‘dirty politics’ post at The BFD

    It’s seemed obvious since before the last election that there were some sort of arrangements between NZ First and Whale Oil.  The replacement The BFD has been increasingly being used as a shill and dirty politics attack medium for Peters and NZ First.

    Winston Peters now seems to have admitted “we took the photos” used in a recent post at The BFD that tried to discredit RNZ after the revealed details of NZ First Foundation donations.

    RNZ – Winston Peters on photos of reporters: ‘We took the photographs’

    NZ First Leader Winston Peters says he was involved in having photographs taken of RNZ journalist Guyon Espiner, Stuff reporter Matt Shand and former NZ First president Lester Gray.

    The photographs, and a video, were posted on The BFD, a Whale Oil-linked website which has been running stories defending New Zealand First and trying to belittle reporting about the NZ First Foundation donations.

    The photos ran with an article criticising the reporting, which Espiner and Shand have both been involved in.

    The deputy prime minister has said two reporters were photographed going to a meeting with Gray “to prove that was the sort of behaviour going on”.

    When the photographs were raised with him by Magic Talk Radio, Peters said “we took the photographs”.

    The photographs were shown on this post – REVEALED: Source Behind RNZ Hit Job by Guyon Espiner

    Which states:

    The BFD. Lester Gray and Guyon Espiner. Photo supplied.

    We have even obtained video of it: Lester Gray and Guyon Espiner from The BFD on Vimeo.

    It would be good if the media now investigate who is operating as Xavier Theodore Reginald Ordinary at The BFD, and whether any business or financial arrangements are involved. And whether there is any association with the NZ First Foundation.


    One News:  ‘No interest’ – Winston Peters backtracks on photos taken of journalists investigating NZ First Foundation

    During an interview with Magic Talk Radio this week, Mr Peters discussed the photographs.

    When it was raised to him, he responded: “We took the photograph just to prove that that’s the kind of behaviour going on.”

    But tonight, after the RNZ story was published online, Mr Peters distanced the party from the photographs.

    “In response to media inquiries, I can confirm that NZF has no interest in following Guyon Espiner or any other journalists. In fact, the very reverse applies,” he told 1 NEWS.

    “No private investigators have been engaged to follow Mr Espiner or anyone else.

    “A supporter did think it odd when they saw ex-president Lester Grey with Mr Espiner so took a photo. Simple as that.”

    But it isn’t that simple. There was also a video taken.

    And then the “supporter” seems to have passed the photos and video on – to the party ending up at The BFD in a dirty politics style post.


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    One News/Colmar Brunton poll – February 2020

    The first One News/Colmar Brunton poll of the year hasn’t moved much, but on these numbers National+ACT could probably form a government.

    Greens have moved towards the danger zone and NZ First slips further under the threshold.

    • National 46% (no change)
    • Labour 41% (up 1)
    • Greens 5% (down 1)
    • NZ First 3% (down 1)
    • ACT 2% (no change)
    • Maori Party 1% (no change)
    • New Conservatives 1% (no change)

    Those are rounded to whole numbers so the small party results in particular are very approximate.

    Polling ran through last week which included Simon Bridges ruling out doing anything with NZ First this election, and the Waitangi Day/week political manouvering.

    Preferred Prime Minister:

    • Jacinda Ardern 42% (up 6)
    • Simon Bridges 11% (up 1)
    • Judith Collins 3% (down 1)
    • Winston Peters 3% (no change)
    • Don’t know 30%

    Economic outlook

    • Optimism 40% (Up 4%)
    • Pessimism 34% (Down 1%)

    Between February 8 to 12, 1005 eligible voters were polled by landline (402) and mobile phone (602). The maximum sampling error is approximately ±3.1%-points at the 95% confidence level.


    For party support, percentages have been rounded up or down to whole numbers.


    The data has been weighted to align with Stats NZ population counts for age, gender, region, ethnic identification and mobile or landline access. 


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    Will National’s support solid through leadership changes endure?

    Support for National has remained fairly substantial and solid, despite the stepping down of the popular leader John key, and also the retirement of his replacement Bill English.

    The current leader Simon Bridges has been far less popular, and party support has dropped a bit over the last couple of years that is to be expected for a party relegated to Opposition. National Party support seems to not be affected very much by leadership changes.

    Here is how the polls have tracked since the last election.


    Bridges’ leadership doesn’t seem to have impacted much on that.

    It’s still half a year until the election and anything could happen in that time, but especially with the diminishing of small party support National looks likely to get a reasonable share of the vote again this year (but may struggle to get enough to get back into government).

    Josh Van Veen considers  Simon’s Dream: The enduring appeal of National in the Twenty-Twenties 

    National supporters might look back wistfully on the early 2010s. But they long ago dispelled the notion that the party’s fate rested with one individual. In that regard, the National Party of 2020 is ‘Tolstoyan’… Despite losing the 2017 election, National remained the largest party by a wide margin. With 44.5 percent of the party vote to Labour’s 36.9 percent, English could boast of having led his party to an impressive result.

    For a third term in government party that was a good result, not a lot down on the 47.04% that National got in 2014.

    While Bridges’ personal support languishes behind that of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, National continues to poll higher than Labour. It is clear that a significant number of New Zealanders would vote for party over leader. Almost three years to the day of Key’s resignation, a 1 News/Colmar Brunton poll forecast a National victory. If an election had been held in December 2019, according to this poll, Simon Bridges would be the country’s 41st Prime Minister. The poll can’t be dismissed as an outlier. It was the second consecutive poll to indicate the same result. Not only that, but numerous other polls have suggested a tight race. At best we can say the odds are even.

    I think that the outcome is certainly too hard to call at this stage.

    So why is National still popular? Ask a journalist or commentator and they will most likely tell you that it is because the new government hasn’t delivered. Labour’s promise to fix the housing crisis and end child poverty turned out to be empty. Not to mention the incompetence of certain ministers, bad communication and disunity between the governing parties. They say “Oppositions don’t win elections, Governments lose them.” This explanation would be more convincing if Labour had won a numerical victory in 2017. There would be ground to lose to National. In fact, the numbers suggest that nothing much has changed since election night.

    A more plausible explanation is that National’s appeal runs deep in the New Zealand psyche. To understand this, we have to forget about policy details, sensational headlines and the day-to-day vagaries of social media. In practice, there isn’t much difference between the way Labour and National behave in office. One is slightly more generous when it comes to the redistribution of wealth, the other has a reputation (deserved or not) for being meticulously scrupulous with public finances. Where ideology is concerned, Labour and National have both converged on the liberal centre. That is to say, the two major parties share a moderately liberal outlook on issues of public importance. Both have embraced globalisation, diversity, environmentalism, the redress of Treaty breaches, and poverty alleviation.

    Beyond political rhetoric the actual policy paths of both National and Labour are much more similar than different. The current Government has tweaked more than lurched.

    So perhaps it should be unsurprising if the party of John Key, Bill English and Simon Bridges can be identified with a vaguely utopian belief that New Zealand is still a land of plenty where rugged individuals can prosper – with just a bit of help from the government. According to this cherished belief, there isn’t much wrong with New Zealand.

    To National supporters, few things are more repugnant than denying the archetypal New Zealander the fruits of his or her labour. But even more insulting is the imposition that those who ‘got ahead’ by hard work and enterprise should feel guilty about others left behind. To suggest that homelessness is a societal problem is to implicate everyone who has in some way profited from the housing market. To say that child poverty exists because we don’t pay enough tax is to accuse people of being selfish.

    Yet there are no reasonable grounds for assuming that a National voter cares any less about impoverished children than a Labour voter. According to the 2017 New Zealand Election Study, 86% of National voters agreed with the proposition that “the government should provide decent living standards for children”. A majority (67%) also believed that the government had a responsibility to provide decent housing to those who could not afford it.

    Perhaps that is why it has become fashionable in right-wing circles to dismiss talk of kindness as mere ‘virtue signalling’. Ardern might have spoken with more empathy than English but they both professed a moral conviction that it was their duty to help the poor. Most voters agreed. The crucial difference is that English did it without offending the sensibilities of New Zealanders who believe that wealth is acquired only through hard work and sacrifice.

    The enduring appeal of National can’t be explained by Labour’s failure to deliver or brilliance on the part of Simon Bridges. Rather, it is due to the million or so voters who find some emotional coherence in what the party represents on an individual level. It would be a mistake to dismiss these voters as reactionary bigots or selfish boomers. While such people undoubtedly exist, few lack a moral compass and concern for others. Just about everyone is offended by the sight of human suffering.

    But the simple truth is that most New Zealanders are comfortable and few understand material hardship. They have difficulty accepting that strangers doing it tough can’t just go to Work and Income for help. Homelessness and child poverty, while troubling, only exist in the news media. For them, New Zealand is still a land of plenty. Any statement to the contrary is a personal attack.

    I think there may well be many who see not much wrong with Aotearoa as it is – for those prepared to work.

    When leftists say “tax the rich to feed the kids” and demand justice for beneficiaries, it is as if they are speaking a different language to everyone else. Ardern’s decision to permanently rule out a capital gains tax confirmed that National, not Labour, is closer to the mythic New Zealand ideal. Whatever his shortcomings as a leader, Bridges’ sense of history is clear. He knows that National can win in spite of any one individual.

    Labour must now make a difficult choice: whether to rely on NZ First and the Greens or go head to head with National in a contest for the political centre. This choice will define New Zealand politics for the next decade. To get it wrong would be Simon’s dream.

    Labour is moving more towards being reliant on the Greens at least – the Labour-Green ticket. And they will also need to grapple with how much to associate themselves with NZ First as an  essential part of their continued coalition chances.

    National may not manage to lift their support to get into power later this year, but they are still seen as a large single party with solid support.


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    Open Forum – 13 February

    This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is for you to raise topics that interest you, or you think may interest others.. 

    If providing opinions on or summaries of other information also provide a link to that information. Bloggers are welcome to summarise and link to their posts. Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts. Comments from other forums can be repeated here, cut and paste is fine.

    Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some ground rules:

    • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
    • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.

    FIRST TIME COMMENTERS: Due to abuse by a few, first comments under any ID will park in moderation until released (as soon as possible but it can sometimes take a while).

    Sometimes comments will go into moderation or spam automatically due to mistyped ID, too many links (>4), or trigger text or other at risk criteria. If they pass muster they will be released as soon as possible (it can sometimes take hours).

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    Three more National MPs announce retirements

    Three more National MPs have announced they won’t seek re-election this year. Two were expected, but one was a reversal of a previous commitment.

    It is normal for a bit of turnover of MPs from a party that has switched to opposition, but this brings the National MP exodus to about 13 this term.

    RNZ: National Party to lose three more MPs before elections

    Sarah Dowie, Nicky Wagner and David Carter announced in quick succession they will not be running in the September election.

    The three politicians are the latest in a string of National MPs stepping down at this election.

    Amy AdamsNathan GuyMaggie Barry and Alastair Scott all announced last year they would not be running.

    Bill English and Steven Joyce have already retired since the 2017 election. Not sure who else.

    Carter and Wagner retiring are no surprise.

    Dowie is a surprise, as she has already been selected by National to stand again for the Invercargill electorate she holds. She cites family reasons:

    Dowie is currently the MP for Invercargill, but she said she had opted not to seek re-election for family reasons.

    “I went to Parliament when Christabel was four and Hunter was two.

    “What has become clear is that my children are at a pivotal age and I wish to be 100 percent present to share in their successes,” she said.

    She was involved in adverse publicity last year involving Jami-Lee Ross, partly brought upon herself, but I think it is understandable that she has reassessed her life priorities and has chosen children over politics.

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    Poll – replacement NZ First leader (plus more donations drip feeding)

    At this stage there is no indication that Winston Peters will step down as Deputy Prime Minister pending the SFO investigation into how the NZ First Foundation has been dealing with donations. Peters has both distanced himself saying he has nothing to do with the foundation, but has also said he knows the foundation has bone nothing wrong and has been doing all the media releases and interviews in relation to the issue.

    And there is no indication that Winston Peters is ready to step down as leader of NZ First or to retire from politics. He doesn’t exactly look like an energizer bunny but politically he just keeps on going (with the occasional top up of voter energy after things have gone flat).

    But regardless, Newshub decided to do some polling on a replacement NZ First leader – Who Kiwis think should be NZ First leader if Winston Peters stands down

    In the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll, voters were asked for their thoughts on who should take over if Peters ever stands down as New Zealand First leader.

    Thee results are quite mixed.

    • Ron Mark: 17.9%
    • Shane Jones: 14.5%
    • Tracey Martin: 13.8%
    • Fletcher Tabuteau: 3.6%

    The three most popular are the three most prominent NZ First MPs. All are ministers. Jones is by far the most visible (he does a lot of attention seeking), but interesting to see Mark top the poll, as he has been a much more quiet worker.

    Results from NZ First voters must be suspect as the sample must be quit small, with only 3.6% preferring the party in the poll.

    • Ron Mark: 34.4%
    • Shane Jones: 18.5%
    • Fletcher Tabuteau: 13.6%
    • Tracey Martin: 2.9%

    So Jones doesn’t seem very popular even amongst the few NZ First voters polled. This doesn’t mean much, but it’s a bit interesting.

    Peters has always been leader of NZ First, the Peters is sometimes referred to as Winston First.

    Tracey Martin was chosen as deputy leader of NZ First on 14 February 2013.

    Ron Mark challenged her and was selected to replace her on 3 July 2015.

    Fletcher Tabuteau replaced Mark as leader on 27 February 2018.

    Meanwhile Simon Bridges hasn’t ruled out working with Winston Peters forever:


    It would be ridiculous making a commitment on this for future elections, so this means less than the replacement leader polling.

    Meanwhile the donations story continues to drip feed, despite Peters saying he was slaying a complaint with the police over the ‘theft’ of information from the Foundation  he has nothing to do with.

    RNZ: NZ First Foundation received tens of thousands of dollars from donors in horse racing industry

    The New Zealand First Foundation has been receiving tens of thousands of dollars from donors in the horse racing industry in payments which fall just below the $15,000.01 at which party donations are usually made public.

    As racing minister, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has delivered significant benefits to the industry, including millions of dollars of government money spent on tax breaks and scrapping betting levies.

    Records viewed by RNZ show one of the big donors was the Lindsay family. Brendan Lindsay sold the plastic storage container business Sistema for $660 million in late 2016 and a year later bought Sir Patrick Hogan’s Cambridge Stud.

    Three lots of $15,000 were deposited into the bank account of the New Zealand First Foundation on 11 October, 2018, according to records viewed by RNZ.

    One of the donations was in Brendan Lindsay’s own name and one was in the name of his wife, Jo Lindsay. There was a third deposit made that same day listed as Lindsay Invest Donation.

    The year before – in the 2017 election year – Brendan Lindsay also donated $15,000. On the same day there is another deposit for $15,000 listed as Lindsay Trust Donation. Both were banked by the New Zealand First Foundation on 5 May, 2017.

    Brendan Lindsay told RNZ, via email, that neither he nor his wife were aware of the Foundation.

    Spreading payments between related people and entities all just below the disclosure threshold looks designed to avoid the law. Time will tell whether it is actually illegal or not, but can have an appearance of being deliberately deceitful.


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    NZ First referred to police/Serious Fraud Office

    It is unclear who exactly is in the firing line (people-wise), but the the Electoral Commission has referred the party donation arrangements involving the NZ First Foundation to the police, who immediately passed the matter on to the Serious Fraud Office.

    Winston Peters has rfesponded saying the party would review it’s donation arrangements.

    Electoral Commission: Statement on donations enquiries

    The Electoral Commission has made enquiries into issues raised regarding the New Zealand First Party and the New Zealand First Foundation and their compliance with the requirements for donations and loans.

    Based on the information available, we have formed the view that the New Zealand First Foundation has received donations which should have been treated as party donations for the New Zealand First Party. In the Commission’s view, the donations were not properly transmitted to the Party and not disclosed as required by the Electoral Act 1993.

    The Commission does not have the investigative powers to form a view about whether this failure to transmit and the non-disclosure means offences have been committed. These matters have therefore been referred to the New Zealand Police, which have the necessary powers to investigate the knowledge and intent of those involved in fundraising, donating, and reporting donations.

    The Police immediately handed the matter on to the Serious Fraud Office.

    Andrew Geddis (The Spinoff):  The NZ First donations investigation had to happen. And ignorance is no excuse

    Let me start by saying that I am not in the least surprised by this development. Not. In. The. Least.

    Contrary to Winston Peter’s assertions to the contrary, I know evidence when I see it. And the documentary material that Guyon Espiner shared with me for his RNZ stories here and here revealed something very unusual taking place.

    In short, the material appeared to show people with involvement in running the NZ First Party accepting donations intended to help that party, banking them into a “New Zealand First Foundation” account separate from the party proper, then using that money to pay for party costs. But because those donations hadn’t made it into the NZ First Party’s account, the NZ First party secretary hadn’t reported them to the Electoral Commission.

    If the donations to the NZ First Foundation are party donations (as the commission thinks), then the Electoral Act required that they be “transmitted” (i.e. handed over) to the NZ First Party’s secretary. This apparently never happened; indeed, the party secretary publicly has sought to disassociate herself from the foundation’s activities.

    Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the secretary is off the hook. Because, if the money paid into the NZ First Foundation’s account are party donations, then they ought to have been disclosed to the Electoral Commission. And as they weren’t, then the party secretary is responsible for that failure unless she can prove she didn’t mean hide the facts and “took all reasonable steps in the circumstances to ensure that the information … was accurate.”


    RNZ: Donations made to NZ First Foundation referred to police for investigation

    When asked if this would have any bearing on the governing relationship between New Zealand First and Labour, Ardern said the matter had only just been referred to the SFO, and she intended to let them do their job.

    “I will not pass judgement on whether or not an offence has occurred, or if it has, who may be responsible.”

    She said she had been consistent when “another political party” had been under investigation.

    “I let them do their job, and nor have I cast judgment on that process.”

    NZ First reaction:

    New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters said the party would review its arrangements for party donations in light of the Electoral Commission’s decision.

    “I had already advised the party last week to take this course of action and itself refer the matter to the police, which the party had agreed to do.

    “This does not imply any impropriety but is intended to ensure the party, as with all parties, have robust arrangements.

    “If the review deems it necessary for New Zealand First and all parties to develop new arrangements to receive donations the party will consult with the Electoral Commission”.

    “I am advised that in all its dealings the Foundation sought outside legal advice and does not believe it has breached the Electoral Act.

    “At this stage the SFO will consider if an offence has been committed, or otherwise, and it is not appropriate to make any comment on specific detail that prejudges their investigation”.

    This is likely to take some time for the SFO to come back with a decision on whether to prosecute.

    Probably not coincidentally just prior to this Peters said that they would be referring the leak of information (calling it theft) to the police. It looks more like whistle blowing, especially in light of the referral to the SFO.

    Peters made a joke of the referral to the SFO of National party donations, but he is unlikely to be laughing now.

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