Failing the credibility test

NZ First has fessed up to omitting to declare a donation they received from Sir Robert Jones, noted pugalist and property developer (and at the same time a donation of the same amount from an anonymous donor). It says that this resulted from an administrative error that came at a time when there was an extensive changeover in administrative staff.

This is not a trivial matter, and would have been a serious breach of the Electoral Act had it been investigated within six months of it happening.

However, mistakes do happen. The National Party had to fess up to receiving an advantage of more than $100,000 at the last election because of administrative error.

Given that National knows only too well how these things happen, you’d expect them to cut NZ First a little slack on this. You’d be wrong. National’s (informal) blogger-in-chief, Farrar, is careful (not!) not to “dismiss [the NZ First explanation] totally out of hand”. Let’s test his credibility:

“[The explanation] fails the credibility test on so many levels, it is not funny.

1. The TV3 item on the Spencer Trust showed a payment of $50,000 not $25,000 paid to NZ First.

Umm, yes, there were two donations of $25,000, and $25,000 times two makes $50,000. They admitted not declaring either. Strike one, DPF.

2. NZ First has never ever declared a single donation from the Spencer Trust, so are we to believe that in three years of existence it has only received and passed onto NZ First a singular donation from Bob Jones?

No, you are expected to believe that the others were $10,000 or less. On the evidence of the Vela cheque for $9995, this doesn’t seem unreasonable. Strike two, DPF.

3. NZ First claim to have only had a couple of donations over $10,000 in the last decade, so how one could overlook your largest ever donation since 1996 is beyond belief.

Only if you are determined not to believe anything that might not play to your particular meme. The NZ First explanation seems more plausible than National’s about its $100,000+ GST oversight, and a lot of us have accepted National’s explanation. Oh, and there was another $25,000 donation at the same time, remember, so it’s not true that this is NZ First’s “largest ever donation since 1996.” Strike three, DPF. You’re out, but let’s continue…

4. Since the Jones donation was exposed a couple of months ago there has been speculation that the NZ First 2005 return may be inaccurate. Why did no one in NZ First check until today?

Fair question, but what’s the point of it? Perhaps you should ask the NZ First auditor. Who knows, there may even be a reasonable explanation.

5. Why is the auditor, not the accountant, explaining the error? Are they the same person as suggested in the NZPA report?

A fair person would be hard put to argue that this issue means that NZ First’s explanation “fails the credibility test”, DPF. But then, you’re not being a fair person here are you?

Postscript: I’d like to know who leaked the details about Glenn’s letter to the Parliamentary Privileges Select Committee, and efforts to get him to talk to the Committee via video conference call, to the Herald. It is supposed to be a fair and unbiased process, after all.

[Update: Helen Clark makes the same point that I do in the postscript, “There are clearly people on the privileges committee with an agenda who clearly leak information out beyond committee walls.”


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8 Responses to “Failing the credibility test”

  1. AndrewE Says:

    So do you believe Winston has not lied at all?

    Andrew, I’ve just coined a new term in order to answer your question. I think that Peters has been very precise with the truth. Remember where you heard it first. 🙂

  2. macdoctor01 Says:

    This is not a trivial matter, and would have been a serious breach of the Electoral Act had it been investigated within six months of it happening.

    No, JP. It is still a serious breach of the Electoral Act. They just can’t be punished for it. Essentially, they got away with a crime.

    The Nats GST oversight does not fall into the same league. This was not an administration error, but a failure of communication as they were not told that the quoted amount excluded GST. It resulted in an overspend which National was entirely upfront about and which the police did not consider worth pursuing.

    All of this is irrelevant, of course. It is quite likely that this “mistake” is the only illegal thing that NZ First and Peters have done. But in the meantime, Peters has blustered, attacked and lied (or, at least, been very economical with the truth). The most recent parallel to his conduct was the Benson-Pope affair. BP would probably have survived the scandal and innuendo, if he had just been candid. Instead he obfuscated and lied like a flatfish. It was that which pushed him out of cabinet and Peters should go the same way.

  3. AndrewE Says:

    Answer the question JP!

    Do you honestly believe he has told no lies. And I don’t mean lies of omission.

    Andrew, If you’re excluding sins of omission, then the answer is that he has probably not. As for things ommitted, yes, I think that he has been very careful to answer the questions put to him and no more.

  4. Inventory2 Says:

    So JP – what do you make of Peter Williams QC’s revelation that “around $80,000) of donations from the Vela family also passed from the Spencer Trust to NZ First?

    I2, I looked at your post, and take my hat off to you… when it comes to fanciful explanations your speculations on William’s motivations take some beating.

  5. Inventory2 Says:

    I’ll take that as a compliment JP 😉

    Have you got a better explanation?

    I2, Umm, It’s the truth?

  6. Inventory2 Says:

    Which is probably why I’m so gob-smacked! Someone representing NZ First telling the truth, not blustering and obfuscating – no, it’s too much, I need to lie down!

    I2, I think the appropriate term would be “is retained by” NZ First. So no need to be too shocked.

  7. Inventory2 Says:

    No JP – “retained by” implies payment. The unusual arrangement between Messrs Peters and Henry suggests otherwise!

  8. just visiting Says:

    3 News has just apologised to the Spencer Trust for broadcasting Rodney Hide’s allegations yesterday. Blink and you missed it.

    It’s like Parliament: SHOUT the accusation first, get it out there, then mumble “withdraw-n-apologise” afterwards when the horse has bolted.

    You’re right JV, I can’t find the apology on the website. Maybe they figure there’s not enough in Peters’ legal fees fund to mount an action against them.

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