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The Standard

Dinner money

Written By: - Date published: 3:38 pm, March 9th, 2014 - 60 comments
Categories: accountability - Tags: ,

The reason we know about John Key’s Antoine’s dinner donations was that they were grouped into a single donation that had to be declared. Not that we know who all the individual donors are: they’re hidden behind the dinner loophole.

But what about all the other dinners where each seat is considered a separate donation? It’s likely that tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars could be shifted through fund-raisers like that and not a single cent would have to be declared.

There are certainly other dinner fundraising events run by National than just the Antoine ones. Indeed National Party insider Matthew Hooton made it clear there are others, and that he had attended them, in a comment yesterday.

What’s more concerning is the suggestion in the same thread that single donors have split large donations up simply by sending multiple guests to one of these dinners and thus avoided disclosure.

We can’t know because National are keeping their donors secret.

In fact we can’t know if any of the businesses that have received sweetheart deals from the National government have hidden large donations to National using this loophole.

I think it’s time John Key told us who his secret donors are. As he said when he legislated to have the GCSB intrude on our private lives: If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.

60 comments on “Dinner money”

  1. rhinocrates 1


    Sorry to distract, but everything I send to another thread disappears and I want to see if it works here.

    Edit: OK, that’s worked. Apparently some bug…

  2. Papa Tuanuku 2

    Michelle Boag said on the nation shes goes to $1,000 dinners all the time.

    • rhinocrates 2.1

      That corrupt racist swine Hooton does too, as has been revealed now. He lied about it of course, but then it lies like every real human (as opposed to a human imitator like it) breathes.

      • rhinocrates 2.1.1

        I want to apologise to any pigs reading this blog for the gross insult of comparing them to Hooton by the way.

        • Murray Olsen

          Any pigs reading this blog will be NAct voters anyway, so I wouldn’t worry too much about their feelings.

    • Tom Gould 2.2

      Perhaps, but who is paying? That is the question. And why?

  3. Marty 3

    Good point Zet

    As the saying goes, Ceasar’s wife must be above all suspicion. Perhaps Labour can lead the way by disclosing these donations too? After all, we strongly campaigned on this very anti trust, no more secret squirrel stuff.

    It’s doing my head in that the very man leading the party now is no better than the shifty and shonkey crony enablers.

    Let’s get it all out in the open, behind us, so no more surprises.


    • Disraeli Gladstone 3.1

      There’s a reason why the running on this story is being done by the blogs and not so much the politicians. Labour and National both rely on this trick.

      They know they’re all as tarred as each other. If they stay quiet, they won’t be feathered.

    • RedLogix 3.2

      It’s doing my head in that the very man leading the party now is no better than the shifty and shonkey crony enablers.

      I’m sorry Marty but – given the Party rules in place at the time on the need for donors to this primary race to remain anonymous – you have failed to tell us exactly what he should have done.

      Mike Williams makes a useful contribution here, but I think he underestimates that even the measures he outlines would still be dismissed by a very cynical electorate:


      • Disraeli Gladstone 3.2.1

        “I’m sorry Marty but – given the Party rules in place at the time on the need for donors to this primary race to remain anonymous – you have failed to tell us exactly what he should have done.”

        Not accept donations. Only accept donations from people willing to waive anonymity. There were options.

        Robertson and Jones both ran without using a trust. Everyone defending Cunliffe as having no choice seemed to have forgotten that.

        • RedLogix

          Not accept donations. Only accept donations from people willing to waive anonymity.

          Political parties do not run on fresh air. Not accepting funding is plain silly.

          Only accepting donations from people willing to be publicly named carries other problems. Many people have good reasons to keep their political affiliations to themselves.

          Robertson and Jones both ran without using a trust.

          Because Robertson had no donations above $500 and Jones only had one above that which I understand did not require anonymity. Details Gladstone – they matter.

      • Melb 3.2.2

        +1111. It’s a cool that so many people are here support Cunliffe trying to take secret money from his big business cronies. It was within Labour Party rules, so there’s nothing to worry about.

  4. RedLogix 4

    No no Zetetic. You are still operating under the delusion that there are any rules.

    National can do anything it wants. Anything. Sure the media will go through the tut-tut ceremony, maybe even get out a well-soaked bus ticket for a ritual wrist-slapping whenever a new wave of arrogance is tumbled – but there will be no sustained campaign of denigration that might harm their actual election chances.

    Over the last month I’ve come to the conclusion that the media in this country is absolutely going to return John Key to a third term. That’s my prediction. In the last week alone almost every political commentator has run at least one smear on Cunliffe over a piffling issue (evading of course the very live issues around exactly how should politicians handle donations), while the only hit on Key (from Gower of all people) is pointedly ignored. By Monday it will be buried under another flurry of “Cunliffe is tricky” bs.

    This game will carry on for months. Relentlessly.

    In the meantime National will just shrug their shoulders, smirk and tell us there is no problem with them doing the same thing on a far larger, far more egregious scale. They’ve always taken big secret donations in exchange for favours. It’s the raison-d’etre of the National Party. They have never been a party of policy or god-forbid … principle. Why should they resile or change their ways?

    We have this idea that good government is about checks and balances – National is really a party of cheques and obligations. And everybody knows.

    • Bearded Git 4.1

      True Redlogic. Paddy Gower repeated yesterday “how is Cunliffe going to dig himself out of this hole”.

      That sums up the MSM diatribe. A couple of gaffes and a couple of made-up gaffes have been turned into a “hole”. This is bollocks of course. Overall Cunliffe’s performance has been excellent, far far better than Shearer. The MSM is hunting for Labour gaffes.

      The best way to counter this is with good policy and good performances from the shadow front bench. For instance Hipkins was very good on Key’s refusing to release the names of donors on TV3 last night.

      Labour needs to set the agenda.

      • Sosoo 4.1.1

        No. The best way to counter this is by making it so that there are consequences for the behaviour of Gower and the others.

        Dig into his background. Find examples of him saying things at odds with his role as a journalist. Photobomb his live stories. Treat him as fair game. The internet is a powerful device. It shouldn’t be that hard to completely discredit a journalist. Someone somewhere has to have heard him boasting about his ability to win the election for National.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.2


      Well said.

    • “This game will carry on for months. Relentlessly.”

      Yep true indeed. Unorthodox approaches to cut through it all will be needed and this is where activism comes in, from labour supporters especially. But will they do it? We know that Mana and I’d say the Greens will continue to agitate from the bottom up – and a bit of top down stuff from the Greens too. If labour want to get those benches they are going to have to activate the activism and get agitated about the election coming up – like really agitated. The spin can be countered but it must be caught early – almost too late now but not quite methinks.

    • Saarbo 4.4


    • Populuxe1 4.5

      Nothing to stop you pressing a civil case

  5. Bearded Git 5

    It’s simple. Labour should immediately adopt a new policy where ALL donations above $100 are made public every 3 months.

    While this will entail some extra work and some donations will be lost it will put the issue to bed and leave Labour on the high moral ground because we all know sneaky National would never adopt such a policy.

    • RedLogix 5.1

      leave Labour on the high moral ground because we all know sneaky National would never adopt such a policy.

      Would make no difference. The media would just smirk at how naive Labour was being in exposing all it’s sources and supporters – and get stuck in.

      • Anne 5.1.1

        100% right Redlogix.

        The more honest and upfront Labour tries to be, the more the media will get stuck in to them. The only difference would be the meme… amateurish, naive, stupid they will say… can’t be trusted to run a government when they don’t know how to run their own affairs etc. Some of us foreshadowed this behaviour months ago – not very long after John Key talked about his top drawer. I knew he was revealing something tactical and that it was going to be very nasty.

        Mark my words, every tit-bit of information that is being drip-fed to the media is coming straight from the Prime Minister’s office. Take this week’s revelation in today’s HOS. It has obviously originated from one of Key’s Omaha neighbours who wanted to ingratiate him/herself with Key. I am amazed that the Labour camp didn’t apparently see it coming. They should have. And there should have been a planned response worked out in advance. Pity they don’t spend more time listening to their experienced rank and file.

        Their next course of action should be a rousing exposition next Wednesday afternoon in the House. Starting with Cunliffe, and picked up by senior colleagues they need to ram it home what is really going on. Talk about the top drawer one after the other… sheet the blame home to where it belongs. Arm themselves with a copy of BLiPs list and expose who the real lying, cheating, tricky, mealy mouthed politician is… John Key himself.

        Blast the offending media outlets for their superficial, sycophantic and false posturing and when it’s over… permanently shut up. Time to get on with the job of selling Labour’s superior policy planks and how they are going to be implemented. The sooner the better, because the election is going to be early!

        • Saarbo

          “Their next course of action should be a rousing exposition next Wednesday afternoon in the House. Starting with Cunliffe, and picked up by senior colleagues they need to ram it home what is really going on. Talk about the top drawer one after the other..”

          The best form of defence is attack and attack them hard, agree 100% Anne.

          The media will have an impact in the next few Polls I suspect but DC interviews better than Key, last week on the Nation and this morning on Q&A he was outstanding. So eventually more people will see DC and things will change back. I suspect this whole attck by National is just trying to do as much damage before he gets more TV time.

          • Anne

            I suspect this whole attack by National is just trying to do as much damage before he gets more TV time.

            Precisely. Mind you they will have mapped out a series of supposed exposes designed to last for as long as possible – perhaps right up to the actual election.

          • BM

            No one watches the Nation or Q& A or Parliament TV

            I don’t and I’d consider myself more knowledgeable than 99% of the population when it comes to politics. Those shows are train spotter central.

            If Cunliffe wants to get good publicity he needs to be in the Women’s weekly, on mainstream radio, playing beer pong, wearing stupid hats, doing derp faces,planking, singing about foxes ……..etc.

            No one knows who the fuck Cunliffe is and if people can’t relate to the man they won’t vote for him.

            • geoff

              I’d consider myself more knowledgeable than 99% of the population when it comes to politics.

              !!snorts coffee out nose/!!

            • dave

              bm you must be cameron slater still living with daddy

            • felix

              Oh fuck off BM.

              Your political knowledge begins and ends at ‘Be like Key’.

              You’re a fucking child.

            • risildowgtn

              more knowledgeable?? BAHHHAHAHA

              fukin retarded window licker

            • BM

              99% of the population knows nothing about politics or has the remotest interest in politics, that’s the point.

              • fender

                Oh that’s hilarious BM, you’ve said some ridiculous things before but it’s clear now what a delusional fool you really are. Do all National supporters have the same overinflated opinion of themselves..

                edit: reading slater and farrar hasn’t equipped you with the political education you believe you posses.

            • Tracey

              “I don’t and I’d consider myself more knowledgeable than 99% of the population when it comes to politics.”

              Of course you do, it’s just the 99% who disagree with you.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Their next course of action should be a rousing exposition next Wednesday afternoon in the House. Starting with Cunliffe, and picked up by senior colleagues they need to ram it home what is really going on. Talk about the top drawer one after the other… sheet the blame home to where it belongs. Arm themselves with a copy of BLiPs list and expose who the real lying, cheating, tricky, mealy mouthed politician is… John Key himself.


          • Tracey

            there must be a reason they don’t do this. Not necessarily a good reason, but a reason.

        • Murray Olsen

          I sometimes think the leftish people in Labour are under the illusion that the rules of the game should be obeyed, and get hurt and puzzled when NAct flouts them. There’s absolutely no point in following the rules when any ref is on the other side anyway. They should be prepared for NAct’s filth and ready to counter it, maybe even come back with some ethical filth of their own.

          It’s not as if important people in and around NAct can’t have things they want to keep hidden. Start with the president of the party and work downwards. I’m sure something needing answers would come up pretty quick.

          • Tiger Mountain

            Agree with Murray, I reckon there are some trash cans that need to be rifled through.

            Heh, Tony Astle, a top tory of Parnhell, hopefully his guests all had to eat a set meal of his tripe and onions.

  6. rhinocrates 6

    If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.

    Goebbels said that.

    That says a lot about the Nacts – not that they’re N*zis, but that they – including Key, who is ethnically at least Jewish – just don’t care about adopting their tactics and rhetoric.

    • greywarbler 6.1

      Lazy thinkers come out with that sort of dismissive shit.
      Worried about police behaving badly – answer don’t break the law.
      It just evades the real problem with an irrational discounter.

    • Populuxe1 6.2

      Well yes, Marketing 101 pretty much all comes from Goebbels. I do wish people would stop bringing up Key’s Jewishness as if it is remotely relevant. This Godwin nonsese is tiresome – are you also upset that people still drive Volkswaggons and launch rockets?

      • Not JK 6.2.1

        Of course its relevant, Pop 1. Who is it who’s always backed Key ?

      • Colonial Viper 6.2.2

        Well yes, Marketing 101 pretty much all comes from Goebbels.

        Uh, nope.

        In fact it was Goebbels who learnt from Madison avenue, which by the 1920’s was staffed by propaganda experts from WWI, including from the likes of Bernase and Lippman.

        • RedLogix

          Yes. Immediately after the Cold War a Russian politician of the era was quoted “The most critical difference between Russia and the USA was that they had Madison Avenue, and their propaganda was believed – whereas ours never was”.

  7. ianmac 7

    Well the Herald is unrepentent. Their interpretation of I think is from Q&A and just piles rumour and innuendo to create National’s cloud of harm:
    “Labour Leader David Cunliffe is defending his leadership following a period where he has been dogged by accusations he is “tricky” while former rivals for his job Shane Jones and Grant Robertson scored significant hits in Parliament……”

  8. McFlock 8

    What’s more concerning is the suggestion in the same thread that single donors have split large donations up simply by sending multiple guests to one of these dinners and thus avoided disclosure.

    But that’s incorrect – if one person bought 3 tickets, the aggregate donation would be $15k.


    Aggregation of donations

    Aggregation of donations is not limited to the same type of donations. If during the year, a donor donates $5,000 by cheque, $3,000 in cash, and $7,000 worth of goods and services (either at no charge or at a $7,000 discounted price), that donor has donated $15,000 in aggregate and those donations need to be included in the annual return.

    And if the diners are given the money to buy their own tickets, I hope they declare that in taxes.

  9. Skinny 9

    Watching TV1 News tonight just wondering if Corin
    Dann paid 5 k out of his own pocket to attend one of these dinners?

  10. captain hook 10

    corin dann doesn’t eat food. He is a robot programmed by the national party.

  11. Philj 11

    Please don’t refer to them as ‘donations’. Call the what they are, BRIBES. Both sides play this game.

    • Te Reo Putake 11.1

      Bullshit. Most LP members contribute regularly and none that I know of expect anything in return. I imagine the situation is exactly the seem for most parties (those associated with John Banks excepted).

  12. captain hook 12

    so let me get this right, corin dann is busy opining on TV1 tonight about DC’s miserly 8&1/2 grand (lunchmoney) but its ok for shifty to squirrel away 150 large?

  13. Draco T Bastard 13

    New Year Honours: Tony Astle ONZM

    “It came out of the blue, really – I wasn’t expecting it at all,” said restaurateur Tony Astle of his award.

    The 62-year-old owns the renowned Antoine’s restaurant in Parnell, Auckland, which he opened with his wife, Beth, in 1973.

    “I’m very excited about it, because, well, you don’t expect these sorts of things when you’re a chef,” Mr Astle said.

    So, just how many favours has he done for National over the last 40 years?

  14. risildowgtn 14

    Frank M over at the Daily Blog also has done some digging……


    Also goes into depth re the donations received by National from Oravida of which Judith Collins partner is a director….

    • freedom 14.1


      Link is to the 2010 NZH article that says

      The balance of the large donations received by National in recent weeks were $105,000 from upmarket restaurant Antoine’s, which is near Prime Minister John Key’s Parnell home, and Auckland BMW dealership Team McMillan, which gave $50,000.

      Antoine’s owner, Tony Astle, has been reported as saying he donated the money because he “loved” Mr Key, who was a longstanding customer at his restaurant.

      No mention it came from a fundraising dinner, it is presented as a personal donation according to the register.

      Is this not a false declaration ?

  15. Pasupial 15

    National’s donations are looking Trickier every day. The smears on Cunliffe seem to be more of an attack-best-form-of-defense strategy every day.

    “$5,000 each, that comes to $105,000. GST on that sum (in 2010), at 12.5%, would have amounted to $13,125. Yet, the Donations Return for 2010 clearly shows that the full amount of $105,000 was transferred from Antoine’s/Astle to the National Party. No deduction has been made for GST.”

    Plus what McFlock said at comment 8:”if the diners are given the money to buy their own tickets, I hope they declare that in taxes”. Political corruption seems to be lower priority to the IRD than impeding travel for student loan ignorers.

  16. Tracey 16

    I can’t see Hooton’s comment on this thread. Can someone copy and paste it here for me?

    • felix 16.1


      blah blah socialist nightmare blah blah union scum blah blah stupid maoris blah blah blah. Did I mention I used to work for a National PM? I don’t anymore though, promise lol.
      ps no-one cares what thestandard readers think but I’m here daily anyway.

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