For my part, I don’t see the big deal in all this Peters donation stuff. Transparency in election funding is important (and it’s something that National and ACT have constantly opposed) but there is no evidence of Peters has been purposely secretive.
A legal defence fund set up for a court case involving Peters received a donation from Owen Glenn and, as per his strict practice, the lawyer, Brian Henry, involved did not reveal to Peters that Glenn was one of the donors to that fund. I see nothing wrong with that practice on Henry’s part it seems designed to ensure politicians do not feel beholden to anyone who donates to their cause and to discourage donations in return for political favours. That’s all perfectly legal and, seeing as Glenn was happy to give openly to Labour it can be assumed that it was only Henry’s practice and Peters’ ignorance that kept Glenn from publicly declaring his donation to the legal defence fund.
The irony is that we are only aware that Glenn was a large donor at all because he gave openly and honestly to Labour. In contrast, National received over $2 million in secret donations that it purposely funnelled through anonymising trusts. We won’t see the media asking hard questions about who gave National all that money and why National was so desperate to keep the identities secret because they’ve been so thoroughly secretive that there is no evidence to work with.
Peters claims he didn’t know about the donation to the fund until Henry decided to break his practice on Friday, and I see no reason not to believe him. When Peters did find out he told the media quickly.
Peters did know a legal defence fund used to fund a case in his name had received donations but legal defence funds are specifically not included in the list of pecuniary interests, so there was no need to list it. The registry of pecuniary interests is a joke anyway nearly every National and ACT MP hides their true financial interests by having family trusts, the holdings of which are not declared.
As for the Dompost’s â€˜revelations’ today various members of the Vela family and companies owned by the family gave amounts that may have totalled $150,000 to New Zealand First over a period of five years. So what? The donations are legal and, as long as NZF didn’t receive more $10,000 from any individual person (legal or natural) in one financial year, they didn’t have to be declared under the law of the time.
It’s an indictment on the New Zealand political discourse that, when there finally is a real policy contest to discuss, the dominant issue is a donation Owen Glenn gave three years ago. So much easier and fun to chase Peters than research big issues that actually affect people. So, excuse me if I continue to post on policy and issues that matter to Kiwis, rather than getting worked up about who knew what when over some old donations.