Posts Tagged ‘Winston Peters’

Maori Party — here’s your chance

August 28, 2008

08 wire points out that the Maori Party has the chance to come to our our aid. Like me they’ve concluded that Winston Peters’ “version of events surrounding big donations to his legal fund/New Zealand First … is becoming hard to swallow.”

But also:

“The government, rightly in our view, see the immediate passing of some form of ETS as crucial to New Zealand’s battle against GHG emissions. We, like the Greeens, want a better ETS in due course. But we, like the Greens, want to make sure there is a framework in place to improve upon.”

Absolutely correct. I think that the meme that Labour wants the ETS as some form of “legacy” is overly cynical. After all, the news on the climate change front just keeps getting worse. It’s important, and the Nats will more than likely give us a Claytons ETS. That’s what their big business backers want.

08 wire say:

“If the government can convince the Maori Party to pledge support for the ETS, then it can suspend Winston’s warrants almost immediately.”

Interesting thought. See their post for further analysis.

Peters newsflash: Glenn told Clark about donation in February

August 28, 2008

Helen Clark has revealed that Owen Glenn told her in February that he donated $100,000 to NZ First. (Except he didn’t, as we now know — he donated it to Peters’ fighting fund.)

She recounts that when she put this to Peters at the time, he assured her that his party had not received a donation from Glenn. Technically, he was right; his fighting fund received the money.

But it seems that Glenn also told the PM that Peters had solicited the money from him personally:

“Mr Glenn on that occasion said to me pretty much what he said to the Privileges Committee. As you would expect, the first thing that I did was go away and ring Mr Peters, and Mr Peters has consistently maintained that he never made that phone call to Mr Glenn. So, there’s always been a conflict of evidence.”

Clark said that every time the issue arose she rang Peters and asked for his word. And got it.

“I have not known Mr Peters to lie to me, and I have to take people as I find them. He is utterly convinced that he never made that call.”

Maybe so, but as the Herald says:

“This new information this morning means Helen Clark has known for months of the conflicting sides of the story which were publicly revealed yesterday in letters to Parliament’s privileges committee.”

True. It’s not really sustainable to know something like this and simply accept Peters’ word for it. It needed to be investigated properly, for the sake of the body politic, if nothing else. Peters may indeed never have made the call, or may be utterly mistaken about that (though it’s hard to see how you could be mistaken about asking someone you’d only met a couple of times for a $100,000 donation). But that’s not the point. Cabinet ministers need to be seen to be acting properly.

Update: Steve Pierson at The Standard notes that when Clark asked Peters in February about Glenn’s assertion that he had made a donation to Peters:

“… Peters was at least on notice that a donation may have been made and, given that, he shouldn’t have flatly denied a donation had been made. However, it also shifts the weight of evidence to a conclusion that Peters has been misleading us.”

NZ First’s finances

August 28, 2008

Bryce Edwards, who occasionally comments on this blog, has posted an interesting and detailed account of NZ First’s shadowy financial history, The Finances of New Zealand First (draft), on his own blog. It’s certainly worth a look.

He makes the point that NZ political parties have generally been reluctant to divulge their financial details. NZ First is really an “extreme case” of a general tendency. It is my understanding, though, that the Labour Party has been relatively more forthcoming with financial information in recent times.

Interestingly, the patterns of secrecy, informal arrangments and partitioning that have been revealed in recent times are not news. They’ve been revealed before. For example, Bryce tells how:

“… after losing a defamation case brought against him by businessman Selwyn Cushing, Peters was ordered to pay $135,000 in damages and costs. There was widespread speculation about who paid the bill. Even then Peters maintained he had no knowledge of the donors to his legal fund. The National Business Review reported him as saying, ‘It was all dealt with by lawyers – I have no idea about any of it’ (NBR, 28 Aug 1998).”

Perhaps journalists in the old media have short memories. Many thanks for doing this work, Bryce.

Peters

August 28, 2008

The Herald’s editorial this morning goes to some length to ignore logic in a desperate bid to parrot today’s National Party talking points.

Echoing Farrar’s “who has the most to gain by not telling the truth?” line, it begins with its conclusion:

“If Winston Peters had the decency his position deserves, he would now resign.”

Problem is, it doesn’t come down to “who has the most to gain by not telling the truth.” If it did, I’d be 99% inclined to go with Peters having the greater motivation, but would still be mindful of Glenn’s estrangement from Labour that Farrar and co want us to overlook.

But it doesn’t. Having decided that Peters has the greater motivation to lie and is therefore guilty of doing so, and should resign in consequence, it notes:

If neither is honestly mistaken in his recall, then one of them is not telling the truth.”

I’ve added the emphasis, because this is the point at which the analysis should have started. Belatedly the Herald admits that its reasoning is based on overlooking the point that the conflict of evidence may not result from one (or both) lying.

The problem is that the Herald does not demonstrate that “neither of them is honestly mistaken in his recall”. I wish it could.

This sort of stuff puts the Herald in the same league as Farrar, who begins his post, “Owen Glenn has told the truth in his letter to the Privileges Committee.” I’m now strongly of the opinion that right-wing bloggers should be exempted from all jury service, because of the way they rush to judgement!

One thing the Herald gets right:

“Even National, ever tentative, has now cast him aside.”

Key held off as long as he could before taking a stand. Courageous? What a joke.

Perhaps it pays not to snub billionaires, Helen?

Perhaps it pays not to snub billionaires, Helen?

Peters saga developments

August 27, 2008

NZ First has announced its support for the Government’s emissions trading scheme (ETS), following the Green’s signing on yesterday. Some might add, and following the PM’s continuing support for Winston Peters as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Peters says his party has “secured a package that will ensure that all households will receive a one-off payment to mitigate the impact of the ETS”, which includes increases to power and fuel costs.

“As well, all those on low incomes, including New Zealand superannuation, will receive a front-loaded CPI adjustment to ensure that they keep ahead of the projected cost of the ETS to their households.”

He also said that NZ First have ensured that within the one billion dollar energy efficiency fund negotiated by the Green Party and available to all households, a dedicated portion will go to SuperGold Card holders which will reduce their costs and create warmer, healthier homes.

And that’s it in terms of detail. Overall, it is better that the proposed ETS proceed rather than gets kicked into touch as big business and its National Party clients want. The idea that National can magic up a scheme that doesn’t entail major costs is fairy story stuff.

But, as Gordon Campbell points out, any meaningful ETS scheme is going to result in major transfers of wealth, however many hundreds of millions are spent to mitigate the effects.

Meanwhile, John Key has declared that Peters, “would be unacceptable as a Minister in a government led by him unless he [Peters] can provide a credible explanation on the Owen Glenn saga.” Such a man of principle. After National’s reluctance to attack Peters until today’s bambshell, I can’t see National getting much credit for this move, however much Farrar and the right-wing bloggers may crow about it.

But Labour could have a much bigger problem on its hands should it be seen as protecting Peters just to cling to power. It’s a pity the ETS doesn’t have more substance. Then it might be able to convincingly sell its association with Peters from a higher moral plane.

The two sides to Peters’ story

August 27, 2008

Update: Chris Trotter recounts being told recently, “There’s a big pot of money out there to get Peters this time – big money.” More food for the conspiracy theorist!

Yesterday’s antics in Parliament can be viewed in at least two ways:

Rodney Hide’s attempts to expose corruption at the core of NZ’s democracy were ruthlessly crushed by the outrageous actions of the Speaker of the House.

Or

Rodney Hide’s attempts to gain milage out of airing accusations that he has probably already given to the appropriate authorities — and certainly should have — fell foul of the longstanding (and necessary) parliamentary convention that matters that are sub judice should not be raised in Parliament.

Needless to say, the former view is the accepted account on the right-wing side of the blogosphere. I’m betting that many left-wing bloggers — the party hacks at least — see things largely in terms of the latter view.

Rodney Hide was using question time to air his allegations. But the misuse of question time in that way is fairly common practice. I’m not a party to his motives. He may be concerned that the allegations should be dealt with before the election. However, since he has built his entire political career around cheap scandal-mongering (just don’t mention Fiji, anyone), I could be forgiven to taking a more cynical view.

In the end Hide’s motivations don’t matter. These matters need to be aorted before the election, so that the “court of public opinion” is an informed “court of public opinion.”

But this still doesn’t excuse Hide’s throwing a dummy and challenging this Speaker’s authority in an unprecedented way. I’m no great fan of Margaret Wilson, but I felt for her when I read the transcript. The right-wing bloggers might think that we should jettison established parliamentary conventions — hey, why not undermine the courts? — whenever their parties’ can get some advantage, but good on Wilson for sticking by the rules.

Hide got off lightly.

There’s another side to this whole Peters saga that of course the media aren’t about to report, as they have played a key part in it. Astute observers will have noticed Cullen’s interjection and withdrawal.

As well as learning the truth about the elaborate funding mechanisms that peters has operated, and whether Peters has lied about any aspects of these operations, the voters deserve to know who is behind the campaign to eliminate Peters and their motivations.

[Note: I was going to copy the entire (uncorrected) Hansard transcription, but Chris Trotter has beaten me to it.]

Peters: Down and out? Updated

August 27, 2008

Update: PM Clark will be seeking an explanation from Peters. When asked whether she still had confidence in Mr Peters she is reported to have replied: “There is obviously a conflict of evidence.”

Looks like Peters’ game is up. No more drawing fine lines or hiding behind smokescreens. This morning’s Herald (now updated) reports that:

“Expatriate billionaire Owen Glenn says New Zealand First leader Winston Peters personally solicited a $100,000 donation and then thanked him for it.”

(Copy of Glenn’s letter and Peters’ letter denying key details in it, here.)

In February Peters held up a sign saying “NO” in response to questions about a large donation from Glenn. And abused reporters trying to pursue the matter. Then last month, when finally his lawyer told him of the donation, we — and, more importantly, the PM — were told that Peters knew nothing about it. Peters didn’t solicit it, we were told.

Now we discover that Glenn specifically says that Peters did solicit the donation, and that if this is the case Peters must therefore have known that it was Glenn’s intention to make the donation, at the very least. Glenn says that Peters thanked him for the donation after it was made, which directly contradicts what Peters told Clark.

Glenn says:

“The payment was made by me to assist funding the legal costs incurred personally by Rt Hon Winston Peters MP concerning his election petition dispute, at his request. Mr Peters sought help from me for this purpose in a personal conversation, some time after I had first met him in Sydney. I agreed to help in the belief that this step would also assist the Labour Party, in its relationship with Mr Peters. I supported the Labour Party.”

Peters is disputing Glenn’s account. He says:

“… “at his request” is not factual and does not coincide with my recollections. I believe that I met Mr Glenn many years ago and on the weekend of 13 August, well before the 2005 election, in Sydney, Bledisloe Cup weekend which is the only time I met him in Australia. The “personal conversation” I believe relates to his conversation with Mr Henry, and the “Labour Party, in relationship with Mr Peters”, seems odd now because months before December 2005 New Zealand First had entered a confidence and supply agreement with Labour on 17 October 2005.”

Actually, Peters’ account doesn’t really contradict Glenn’s, except in one respect. Glenn says that he received the donation request “sometime after” meeting Peters in Sydney, which Peters confirms was in mid-August. That first meeting was only about a month before the 2005 election on 17 September. At the time that Glenn made the donation, about three months later, a donation to Peters would arguably have helped the ongoing relationship between Peters and Labour that the parties had entered into.

The only real difference is over who asked for the donation. Peters had better hope that his erstwhile billionaire donor doesn’t have records or witnesses of telephone conversations. If that is the case, his game would be over. Finally.

[Note: Parliament’s Privileges Committee met this morning to continue its investigation into whether Mr Peters broke Parliament’s rules by failing to declare the donation as a personal gift.

Hmm, and did someone mention gift duty? (Hat-tip: Showmethetaxcut commenting on Keeping Stock]

Winston petering out in Tauranga

August 10, 2008

Winston Peters looks to be losing out in Tauranga to National’s youthful Simon Bridges.

A One News Colmar-Brunton poll of 519 people there has Peters trailing Bridges 28% to 48% with Labour’s Anne Pankhurst at 15%.

In the party vote, National is at 55%, Labour at 31% and NZ First at 6%.

Peters got 39.4% of the electorate vote and NZ First got 13.2% at the last election, so that’s a big thumbs down from Tauranga’s voters. Interestingly, and no one seems to have twigged to this, Labour got about the same proportion (30%) of the party vote and significantly less (11%) of the electorate vote in 2005.

The poll was taken between Thursday and Saturday, and has a margin of error of 4.3%.

Sweepstake on Baubles

August 7, 2008

Now that final confidence motion is out of the way, we can have a sweepstake on how long Peters will keep his baubles. Any time between now and the time that the ministers would ordinarily hand in their warrants. (If I recall correctly, ministers may continue in office for up to 28 days after the election.)

Of course, the right-wing bloggers who have been predicting Peters’ imminent demise for some weeks now should be disqualified from entering, but they’re welcome to nonetheless.

I’m picking he will get dumped in the first week of September. Clark won’t want him strutting his baubles during the election campaign proper, especially as the Herald and DomPost will continue to dish the dirt in their carefully choreographed campaign to eliminate him.

Something fishy here?

August 6, 2008

Just like clockwork, today’s instalment in the Peters saga comes from the DomPost. And they say that this isn’t an orchestrated campaign…

The DomPost reports that:

“The NZ First leader has publicly stated that the party did not receive money from Simunovich Fisheries, a heavyweight fisheries company. But a well-placed NZ First source has told The Dominion Post that the party banked at least one cheque bearing the Simunovich name.”

The DomPost says that “Peters’ credibility is in further doubt”, but it’s really just more of the same. In any case, Peters has no credibility amongst sentient beings.

Note that the question in 2004 was whether NZ First received any money from Simunovich. Although the unnamed source says that the Party banked at least one Simunovich cheque, it may be yet another case of the cheque going into some secret slush trust fund.

Peters is morally wrong, but he may be correct, strictly speaking. We may be going down the same path as with Owen Glenn and Bob Jones. It seems to be his modus operandi. The DomPost knows this, but chooses not to alert its readers to this possibility, for reasons best known to itself.

Like the Velas case, the latest allegation is important because it smacks of corrupt practice. In 2004, Peters sat on a Select Committee investigation into the scampi fishing industry, where Simunovich Fisheries is a dominant player. There were allegations that he regularly ate at Kermadec Restaurant and charged the meals to co-owner Peter Simunovich. (Hat-tip The Hive.)

Labour is expected to face its final confidence vote today in Parliament when the Appropriations Bill comes up for its Third Reading. (Final Order paper here — pdf 167k). Then we shall see whether Clark is up for sacking Peters, as so many right-wing bloggers are predicting.