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Corrosive, anti-democratic power of big money

Written By: - Date published: 9:23 am, May 2nd, 2014 - 86 comments
Categories: accountability, business, capitalism, david cunliffe, election 2014, greens, john key, Judith Collins, news, patriarchy, russel norman, same old national, slippery, spin - Tags:

Too many MPs in the NAct government, and some journalists, fail to understand that the negative impacts of the infiltration into politics of the worst ethos of big business: the primary pursuit of profit, power and personal success through deceptive manipulations and cronyist networks,  has a corrosive and anti-democratic impact on politics and government.

Key cabinet

Both the Judith Collins’ Oravida saga, and the Maurice Williamson-Liu connection show how these values are in play.  Many in the media praise John key in his quick action in enabling a quick ministerial resignation from Williamson (how is that not an indirect sacking if they are praising Key’s actions?).  Vernon Small puts a positive gloss on it for John Key:

His pre-sacking resignation was handled cleanly and swiftly by Prime Minister John Key and it was hard not to hark back for comparison to the dog’s breakfast Labour made of Shane Jones’ recent departure.

Really? There is actually no comparison between the Jones’ resignation from choice, and Williamson’s forced resignation under pressure of perceived interference in police operations.  A closer comparison would be Key’s inaction over allegations against Judith Collins of corruption.

Guyon Espiner (and Patrick Gower on 3 News last night) tried to weaken the criticisms by opposition leaders, by turning the spotlight on the way Cunliffe repeated his claims that the Williamson-Liu connection is part of a wider abuse of power by National government ministers. This on Morning Report this morning:  This on RNZ’s Morning Report this morning

Russel Norman put it well in his morning Report interview.

Russel Norman interview

Norman argued that Key’s response is part of a bigger pattern: one  of constant incursions of (big) money into the political world from the business world.  As Norman explained, John Key doesn’t understand or doesn’t care?) how that impacts negatively on democratic processes.   Norman stated:

Maurice Williamson, in my opinion he seems to be genuinely of the view that if you are a potential big investor in New Zealand then you should get different treatment by the police. That is what the phone call was all about”.

The Green Party has:

released a proposal to introduce a ministerial disclosure regime in New Zealand to improve the transparency and accountability of government.

Russel Norman’s press release yesterday explains further his view on the negative impacts of big money:

“We also need to know when the Prime Minister was first made aware of Williamson’s actions. Was he simply hoping that information wouldn’t come out and has he been involved in covering it up?

“In New Zealand, it’s not ok for people to make big donations to political parties and then receive political influence as a result of that.

“It is particularly distressing that the ministerial intervention related to a case of domestic violence. All MPs should be supporting the elimination of domestic violence and have a zero tolerance policy towards it.

It is also of great concern that “big gay rainbow” Williamson, seems to be most concerned that Liu was treated fairly by the police.  In contrast, he seems to have had little concern for the alleged victims of domestic violence.

More information about the extent of the Liu-Williamson connection is becoming public.

Meanwhile, as Cunliffe and Norman have rightly pointed out, this connection needs to be seen within the wider context: one that includes the corrosive impact of big money on politics and (on occasions) the judicial system, as seen in the continuing case of John Banks (still before the courts) and the on-going Judith Collins-Oravida saga.

john-key-judith-collins-GETTY1200

Judith Collins no cluedo

86 comments on “Corrosive, anti-democratic power of big money ”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 2

    Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours,
    With a little understanding,
    You can find the perfect blend.
    Neighbours should be there for one another.
    That’s when good neighbours become good friends.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 2.1

      Williamson is shitting in Liu’s toilet at his holiday home, yet he doesnt see him as a friend?

      • Richard Christie 2.1.1

        Williamson has gone to extraordinary lengths to help Liu out.

        You have to wonder if Williamson is beholden to Liu in some other way, besides the 22K donations to the party.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.2

        Sometimes it’s hard to know whether your boss is your friend. Maurice was just playing it safe.

      • fender 2.1.3

        The grovelling Williamson is up to his neck in crap due to being a ‘human’ bidet for the neighbour Mr Liu. Can’t help but wonder what the promised paybacks were if he had been successful in getting the police to drop the charges…

        • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.3.1

          A mutually beneficial relationship wouldn’t require anything so overt. The new Construction Minister probably has some mutually beneficial relationships too.

          • fender 2.1.3.1.1

            Can’t wait to see Key get all nasty with the ministers he will blame for losing him the election, he will be a very sore loser.

            That Williamson’s a ‘great’ guy though, wonder if Hooton can give us a phone number, I’d like to ask Williamson to help lay some cabling this weekend..

        • weka 2.1.3.2

          “Can’t help but wonder what the promised paybacks were if he had been successful in getting the police to drop the charges…”

          It is possible that Williamson genuinely didn’t think he was asking the police to drop the charges. Still wouldn’t make what he did right, but from this distance it’s hard to judge one way or the other.

          • fender 2.1.3.2.1

            No he wouldn’t be so blatant to ask for the charges to be dropped, just a little “don’t you know who he is/how rich he is ?” would suffice.

            • weka 2.1.3.2.1.1

              true, I am just saying that either explanation makes sense and we don’t really know which one actually happened.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Well, he really actually did tell the police how rich and important Liu is and he did suggest that they make sure that their case was rock solid. This did result in the police reviewing the case.

                All of which does seem to be a case of him trying to influence the course of justice.

              • fender

                What actually happened was Williamson misused his power in an attempt to pervert the course of justice. Getting the police to review the case is evidence of this.

          • blue leopard 2.1.3.2.2

            It begs the question, though, why was Maurice Williamson so very uninformed about the proper behaviour for an MP with regard to the police?

            There is a flavour of ‘I didn’t know, I wasn’t there, I forgot’ ; standard butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth type excuses. Yes, it is rather easy to believe such statement (which is why they are used so often), but are Williamson’s excuses genuine? Saying ‘I didn’t know any better’ is the quickest path toward getting people on your side.

          • Clemgeopin 2.1.3.2.3

            That makes no difference because he is a MINISTER and is supposed to know the ministerial code of conduct rules!

      • Tracey 2.1.4

        judith collins can have friends who dont understand her and who she doesnt understand… see her aides comments, but mw cant.

  2. One Anonymous Bloke 3

    Aaron Gilmore to Joe Public: “Don’t you know who I am?”

    Maurice Williamson to Joe Police: “Don’t you know who he is?”

    The only person whose identity must remain a secret is a Chinese border official. But he sure as hell knows who Judith Collins is.

    Swamp kauri too eh. Busy little Ministers.

  3. framu 4

    I also found it funny that on the news this morning key (in regards to standards) was claiming that NZers wanted him to uphold the values he believed in.

    pretty sure his personal values compass isnt part of the job when it come to ministerial behaviour – thats why theres a cabinet manual

    it speaks volumes about how key views politics, power and democracy – everything starts and ends with his opinion – rules and conventions dont matter

    • veutoviper 4.1

      Spot on, framu.

      And re your “… everything starts and ends with his opinion …”, what stood out for me yesterday when Key made his statement re Williamson’s resignation was the number of times Key said ‘in my opinion’ or ‘in my view’. Totally overdone – and supports your comments above.

      .

      • RedLogix 4.1.1

        Which is just instinctive with Key – and goes right back to his money trading training; always have a plan B or some wriggle room.

        By framing it as ‘my opinion or view’ he’s leaving space to change his mind in the light of new facts or changed circumstances.

        As contrasted to an unequivocal ‘this is wrong on principle and I’m not going to brook any compromise on it’. That would paint Key into a position he can’t back out of.

    • Bearded Git 4.2

      I noticed that on TV3 news last night framu.

      Key said something like “in my opinion he has crossed the line” rather than “according to cabinet guidlines he has crossed the line” or better still “according to cabinet guidlines this is a very serious offence that threatens the separation of powers and how could someone who has been an MP for 27 years not realise this”.

    • Weepu's beard 4.3

      Pretty sure he referred the other day to the GCSB being “his” agency.

  4. Vic 5

    Collins needs to be gone over with a microscope .

  5. Sanctuary 6

    My favoured model of funding is a complete ban on all donations with political parties funded solely by capped membership fees topped up by the state using a set formula. So let’s say that for every financial member you get a $25-35 top up. A party with 10,000 members would get an annual grant of $250-350,000 of taxpayers money. there would be an upper limit PA of around $600-750,000. I like this model for two reasons:

    1/ I am strongly of the view that democracy thrives on participation at the grass roots. Funding based on membership means attracting and retaining party members will matter – parties will have to work to create broad-based memberships to qualify for cash. it would probably mean the end to astro-turf parties like ACT and vanity projects like CCCP.

    2/ Because members count such a funding model acts as a powerful handbrake on the palace politics of the party machinery that things like the centralised control of the party list has created that is an unwanted unintended consequence of MMP.

    Individuals contesting constituency seats would have a cap on their spending of say 20k in the three months before the election, and no more than $60,000 in the three years before the election.

    PS there is no reason why this model can’t be adjusted to include such things as polling performance…

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      Not bad but you need a system which prevents the legalised bribery which is MPs and Ministers being offered high paying corporate jobs and consulting contracts straight after leaving Parliament.

      Next to that, a few donations here and there are nothing in terms of screwing with a citizen’s democracy.

      • Paul 6.1.1

        From wiki

        Jenny Shipley has business interests in China and is currently on the board of the China Construction Bank.In 2010 the China Construction Bank agreed to help finance a proposal by May Wang [also known as Hao May] and Jack Chen [also known as Chen Keen] to invest in the New Zealand dairy industry by taking over the Crafar Farms.
        Since 2009, Shipley has chaired the Genesis Energy Limited board.
        In December 2012 Shipley resigned from the board of directors of Mainzeal Property & Construction which later went into receivership on 6 February 2013. At mid-day on 5 February 2013 she was one of four independent directors who resigned from the board of Mainzeal Group Limited Both Mainzeal Property & Construction (MPCL), and Mainzeal Group Limited are part of the Richina group, controlled and majority owned by Yan Ci Lang (Richard Yan).

      • Sanctuary 6.1.2

        That would mean putting in place extensive prohibitions on who you can work for once you leave parliament for three – six years. That therefore implies a generous post-parliament pension scheme to compensate for the restrictions on trade.

        • Murray Olsen 6.1.2.1

          Why would it mean a generous pension scheme? They all make speeches about how they don’t do it for the money, they want to make New Zealand a better place, etc etc. Given their charitable instincts, I’m sure they would be willing to forego directorships and overly well paid consultancy positions for a few years.

    • Watching 6.2

      A party with 10,000 members

      Your model based on membership is something from the 1960’s. Although you may believe that democracy grassroots is a goer the public is not interested in officially joining anything. It’s so last century

      This is not only impacting political parties but all organisations are struggling with membership numbers, be that sport club or the numbers who turn up to Hurricanes or Phoenix game in Wellington. People are so busy, not only with work but family time and activities. There is a perception that more people are doing their own thing rather than belonging to a club/organisation.

      a 2008 article by Bryce Edwards on party membership – couldn’t find anything more up todate

      Sanctury, is you have a solution to get people involved (which means giving their time) then you may a solve a bigger problem in society. I think your solution is fighting against how we now live.

      Maybe the flaw is political parties.

      • Colonial Viper 6.2.1

        People are so busy, not only with work but family time and activities. There is a perception that more people are doing their own thing rather than belonging to a club/organisation..

        Membership of pentecostal/evangelical churches grew strongly over the last 20 years. So if you are meeting a psychological or social need, you’ll do well.

        Also, there are at least half a million unemployed, underemployed, semi-retired, retired folk out there who have a lot of spare time and energy that they would give if they saw something worthwhile.

      • weka 6.2.2

        One of the things the GP has done is offer an alternative to formal party membership. It’s a list of people who want to support GP initiatives without becoming an actual member. Seems to be working pretty well. They also do well fundraising this way too (targeting well beyond the formal membership).

      • Sanctuary 6.2.3

        The Labour party had 80,000+ members as recently as 1985. Hardly the 1960s. Membership of political parties collapsed when neo-liberal vanguard cadres captured both main political parties and they stopped representing sections of the community and instead became the tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee to an entrenched global corporate elite.

        But you are right – high membership of political parties implies a number of other things, like a much less atomised society with less emphasis on the centrality of the individual, stronger political and community engagement in politics big and small and that sort of thing. But if the desire to increase membership sees our political parties all seeking to strengthen grassroots democracy, isn’t that a good thing? It seems to me you assume what is now is how it always is and should and shall be. But it isn’t. We have the power to make choices that make our own society.

        “…Maybe the flaw is political parties…”

        this is just more of the sort of wishy washy air-head headed nonsense that doomed the occupy movement. Without decisive leadership and a political change agent, how on earth do you propose any sort of change gets done? We all sit around a campfire, talk it through, take a vote then winners and losers have a big hug and sing kumbaya?

        • Colonial Viper 6.2.3.1

          “…Maybe the flaw is political parties…”

          this is just more of the sort of wishy washy air-head headed nonsense that doomed the occupy movement.

          Sorry, but that’s utter bullshit.

          Occupy was destroyed by a co-ordinated and violent Federal operation ordered from the White House and which shut Occupy down across all US states, in concert with villification from the corporate mainstream media. Occupy encampments across the USA were infiltrated by undercover agents who disrupted meetings and stalled democratic decision making processes.

          Further you need to relook at history and examine the deep controversy around the beginnings of political party based democracy: many opponents clearly understood that party based politics could be a threat to true democracy via the stifling of individual voices and individual perspectives in favour. And so it has come to be – political parties to day are often large unwieldy organisational structures which seek first and foremost to perpetuate themselves and their own entrenched power base, rather than represent the constituencies and values that they were once founded on.

          Without decisive leadership and a political change agent, how on earth do you propose any sort of change gets done? We all sit around a campfire, talk it through, take a vote then winners and losers have a big hug and sing kumbaya?

          Sorry, but that’s utter bullshit.

          If you think that old fashioned, authoritarian and undemocratic leadership styles which rely on a small number of charismatic leaders is going to work, you are very wrong.

          Have you seen how the Greens operate? Would you call them an ineffective bunch of tree hugging kumbaya singers who cannot make decisions?

          Methinks it is time for you to recalibrate what shape a peoples’ movement might actually take in the 21st Century, and it might not necessarily be one based on an authority driven top down focused formal hierarchy.

  6. felix 8

    “:(how is that not an indirect sacking if they are praising Key’s actions?)

    Nah it was a direct sacking. Maurice let slip on nine to noon that Key instructed him to resign.

    • Tracey 8.1

      along with all other resignations except power. imo.

      a true leader would sack. a true leader would back his 2008 statements with his own resignation for failing to adequately lead with the high standards others needed to follow.

      the rot starts at the fish head.

      • felix 8.1.1

        In the case of Worth, Key said he resigned.

        Then he said he sacked him.

        Then he said he resigned.

    • Anne 8.2

      Key told Williamson Wed. night he wanted him to resign his portfolios. Willaimson acquieced Thrsday morning.

    • toad 8.3

      What interests me is the disparity between how Williamson was treated and how Collins was treated by Key.

      The apparent extent of Collins’ corruption is far worse than that of Williamson, who was just “helping a mate” and doesn’t appear to have gained or had the potential to gain anything pecuniary, either personally or for those close to him, from his transgression.

      All I can presume is that Collins is privy to some very serious shit on Key himself, and is therefore resignation/sacking-proofed.

      • Anne 8.3.1

        Interesting response toad. They mirror my thoughts too. My conclusion is that Key is scared of her because she knows plenty about him and could roll him if any of it became public knowledge.

  7. blue leopard 9

    Two thoughts;

    The whole logic behind the neoliberal approach corrupts. It is quite clever that it aims to harness selfishness and aggressive competitiveness, which seem to be qualities we humans have, however it ends up multiplying these qualities by the emphasis it places on them – and shoves other important qualities out of the way.

    We actually depend on cooperation, ethical behaviour; thoughtfulness toward others in our society. We absolutely need these qualities.

    The neoliberalist approach is turning us all into types of ‘commodities’ (or ‘resources’) for other people’s benefit and encouraging us to think along these lines. It is all screwed up and screwing things up.

    Secondly, I believe that there needs to be a connection made regarding the leadership style of Mr Key, coming directly from the most corrupt and screwed up sector of society – financial affairs – and the degeneration of ethical standards of our politicians. He appears to be spreading the worst excesses of his previous careers’ culture to NZ.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.1

      The original markets from the first millennium back around the Fertile Crescent were seen as means of mutual support. Today’s markets are a war of all against all.

      Oh, and the risks that those merchants took were, quite literally, life threatening.

      • blue leopard 9.1.1

        +1 DTB,

        Your comment shows how all very topsy -turvy our system has become.

    • RedLogix 9.2

      The whole logic behind the neoliberal approach corrupts.

      There is an additional way in which neo-liberalism corrupts. While it talks up the virtues of competition, the players in the ‘big club’ don’t actually believe in it. In fact they do everything in their power to avoid it for themselves. Competition is only for us disposable workers (and small businesses) who have to face that.

      That’s why National party people cut deals behind out backs – always seeking ways to collude and conspire for an edge they can exploit for themselves.

      It is this festering hypocrisy at the heart of the system which will eventually mean people will stop believing in it. And will no longer sacrifice themselves to it.

      • blue leopard 9.2.1

        +1 I hadn’t noticed that and you are quite correct RedLogix, they are right into monopolies up there in the dizzy heights.

        Its like that whole thing about ‘individualism’ and ‘paying your way’ too, those at the top just don’t at all…privatising profits and socialising costs….

      • Draco T Bastard 9.2.2

        +1

        I noticed a long time ago that the big companies don’t like competition. It comes through time and time again. Restaurant Brands buying up Eagle Boyz and closing it down. When you look behind all the names in the construction industry in NZ you find that it’s far closer to a duopoly between Fletchers and Carters.

        No, capitalism and the ‘free-market’ has very little to do with competition except at the bottom where the little people get to compete for who they work for so that wages can be lowered.

  8. Penny Bright 10

    OK – how about focusing on some BIG picture anti-corruption stuff?

    Which political parties are going to pick up the ball on THIS one, and make it a stated election priority to get New Zealand’s domestic anti-corruption legislative framework in place and :

    1) RATIFY the UN Convention Against Corruption.

    2) Set up a genuinely Independent Commission Against Corruption tasked with the prevention,
    education, detection and prosecution of corruption in New Zealand..

    3) Legislate for an ENFORCEABLE ‘Code of Conduct’ for all New Zealand MPs.

    (For starters ……)

    High time for New Zealand’s domestic anti-corruption legislative framework to be put in place so New Zealand (perceived to be the least corrupt country in the world – along with Denmark, according to Transparency International’s 2013 Corruption Perception Index)

    http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2013/results/

    can RATIFY the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC)?

    https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/treaties/CAC/

    On the ‘watch’ of Minister for Justice Judith Collins, New Zealand has STILL not ratified the UN Convention Against Corruption.

    https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/treaties/CAC/signatories.html

    The promise made by Minister for Justice Judith Collins to Transparency International New Zealand has proven to be another load of hot air.

    http://www.transparency.org.nz/docs/2013/Hon-Judith-Collins-Minister-of-Justice-Letter-to-TINZ.pdf

    Minister for Justice Judith Collins’ ‘Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Legislation Bill’ has not yet surfaced in the House.

    In my considered opinion, Judith Collins is simply NOT ‘fit for duty’, particularly as a Minister for Justice.

    She is a disgrace, and must go.

    Penny Bright
    ‘Anti-corruption /anti-privatisation Public Watchdog’

  9. MaxFletcher 11

    Just need to look at the US to see what big money/corporate does to politics

    • Draco T Bastard 11.1

      And big money is the inevitable result of capitalism as more and more of societies wealth is channelled into private ownership.

  10. vto 12

    The time has come for New Zealand to prohibit private donations of all kinds to all political parties.

    The current system has come to its end point.

    It would also mean saving money for big business so I imagine they would be happy with such a change …………….. you think?

  11. Penny Bright 13

    It’s not complicated.

    Private sector businesspeople do not tend to make competent PUBLIC SERVANTS who get into public office to serve the public and the public interest.

    They’re from a different CORPORATE planet, used to making money and looking after themselves and their mates ….

    Penny Bright

  12. anker 14

    And here is Audrey (still spinning it for the right or is that just John) Young!

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11247888

  13. captain hook 15

    Its pretty sad allright.
    The government seems to have become an overt arm of the business cartel without any pretence whatsoever of being there to regulate social beahviour and outcomes.
    It has all come down to money now and with a whole phalanx of screamers like espinah and paul henry they are just walking over everything and everybody.
    What is worse is that business in |New Zealand does not seem to be capable of doing anything by itself without some form of governmental asssistance so that all this talk of rugged individualism is exposed as just so much nonsense.
    when you get nitwits like jamie white from ACT talking about not being able to make a decision about anything until it has been discussed by the |Board then you must know that government has just become a contestable arm of management and not a very good one either.
    Business in New Zealand is either run by inheritors or accountants with no imagination and the thing is they are all lowbrow neanderthals backed up by drongo thugs.
    Its fucking horrible.

    • Draco T Bastard 15.1

      What is worse is that business in |New Zealand does not seem to be capable of doing anything by itself without some form of governmental asssistance so that all this talk of rugged individualism is exposed as just so much nonsense.

      That’s pretty much true of businesses all over the world. They’ve just taken to hiding the fact that they get government assistance and pointing out all the mistakes that government make while hiding their own. Go read The Entrepreneurial State and you’ll come away with a much better understanding of just how dynamic the private sector isn’t.

      • Colonial Viper 15.1.1

        small and medium sized enterprises is where the entrepreneurial drive exists; big corporates and industries like Hollywood looking to own toll gates as rentiers ain’t it.

        • Draco T Bastard 15.1.1.1

          small and medium sized enterprises is where the entrepreneurial drive exists;

          That’s one of the myths that she takes to task. The simple fact of the matter is that a small organisation simply doesn’t have the resources to do the decades long research for true innovation. Apple and Hewlett Packard started in garages but only after the government had done, either directly or through funding, the research that developed the CPU and other components needed to produce a PC. And, yes, some of that funding went to small businesses, some went to large corporations and some to public universities.

  14. Mr O Well 16

    Your spot on Mr D T B

    OIA the lot of them + perform a simple social network analysis (CIA use it) to see who else has been ‘helped’ (i.e. phones call, e-mail, GPS tracking on phones/cars, club affiliations, business connections etc)

    Just ask the GCSB, opps you cant John owns that
    Just ask the SIS, opps, you cant John owns that to

  15. captain hook 17

    anyway the thing is that National is supposed to be the party of business but where is th ebusiness.GNP is down not up so they are not making anything new but simply siphoning off more of the pie for themselves. nice guys.

  16. Clemgeopin 18

    National with its dodgy dealings has become an exploding rotten whale of a party, fouling the land around with its dirty offal and shameful stink. Watch the video, if you are not eating. You might get a sick feeling.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/oddstuff/10001605/When-whales-explode

  17. Bearded Git 19

    This good on Williamson from Danyl Mclaughlan:

    “Williamson looks like a horrible, hateful crooked scumbag who obviously doesn’t accept that he’s done anything wrong: he’s given a ‘sorry if I caused a perception of wrongdoing’ non-apology and insists he’s going to stand again in September”.

    Whole short article well worth a read. See:

    http://dimpost.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/nationals-week/

    • Tracey 19.1

      and not a word from williamson on the two victims of domestic violence … complete silence from the sensible sentencing trust.

      • Anne 19.1.1

        Been pondering on that all day Tracey. Not a word anywhere. Where are they? Are they still in NZ? Are they being looked after? Does anyone care? Did Maurice W care?

  18. coolas 20

    This story is getting better ‘Corrupt Nats’ as another Minister totters

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/10002149/Mfat-briefing-requested-before-Oravida-dinner

    ‘An October 15 email from her office noted:

    “On Sunday, October 20, the minister will be having a dinner that will include (redacted name). He has agreed to meet with the minister arranged by Mr Stone Shi, Oravida. The minister would like ambassador Carl Worker and his wife to attend this dinner. A briefing from Mfat will be required.”

    All along Collin’s has said the dinner was private. If so, this shows she abused power by involving Mfat, and trying to hook the Ambassador, who obviously knew what she was up to – softening the undisclosed Chinese official to her husband’s business interest in Orivada. He declined to attend.

    Not looking good for Collins in the light of Williamson’s resignation.

  19. freedom 21

    yes it’s a repost, but a relevant one

    Time for an Election Donation Register of New Zealand ?

    Want to get some transparency back into politics funding in New Zealand?

    Tired of electoral funding skullduggery?

    I suggest NZ creates the Electoral Donation Register of New Zealand.

    THE EDRNZ:
    The EDRNZ is an escrow body which collects and distributes donations for all local and central government election candidates and or political parties.

    Any party or individual standing in local or central government elections registers with the EFRNZ and is paid donated monies minus an administrative tax.

    A small fee of perhaps 0.01% is taxed on all donations for administration of the EDRNZ.

    KiwiBank is an obvious choice to administrate the fund.

    All donations are deposited and logged with the EDRNZ then distributed to the relevant party or individual. With modern banking on-line processes this would be an efficient near instantaneous transaction from donation to EDRNZ to candidate. (especially quick if the candidate banked with KiwiBank)

    DONATIONS:
    Any individual donation over $1000 is not anonymous and is declared on a public register.

    Donations below $1,000 can be anonymous but are still declared on a public register.

    Any donations from a business or a trust for example, of any amount, would not be anonymous and must be declared on the register. (Trusts are and will continue to be a major thorn in the paw of NZ politics, until they are extracted) Occassional audits of the anonymous deposits should show up attempts to circumvent this.

    Any donation of any amount not made in the name of a NZ citizen or resident of NZ would not be anonymous and must be declared on the public register.

    All cash donations, electoral office collections and ‘raffle’ sales etc are processed/declared as per origin of funds. -this is an obvious grey area for cases where this total exceeds $1000 but it is hardly an insurmountable obstacle. The circumstances of its collection would show the totals were legitimate. E.g. the deposit slip from bucket collections. Large single donations (over the $1000 limit) are very rare from a bucket day, i am confident dodo eggs would be more common, but a donor’s details could easily be logged by the collector or alternatively the donation can be made using any number of modern technical services such as Square, for one example.

    THE PUBLIC REGISTER

    Your vote is your vote and that should always be private information between you and the relevant electoral body. When it comes to political donations however, I strongly feel if you don’t want people to know you donated to a particular party then why are you donating to that party?

    I am sure there are plenty of clever folk out there who could shape a register with the suitable oversights which also provides the necessary social protections.

    Despite the disasters in information sharing from recent years, I am confident NZ could produce a public register detailing the donated amount with an associated donor identity that does so without signing away excessive amounts of private data. The Addresses or locality of the donor for example need not be specific or even public, you might live in Tawa but that does not mean you don’t want to support a candidate in Taupo.

    The transfer of data to the EDRNZ Public Register would not need to be instantaneous and a weekly update would most likely suffice.

    In conclusion, there are numerous opportunities to massively overcomplicate the environment of a body like EDRNZ, and despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth from some heavily invested interest groups, the actual mechanics of its operation are incredibly straightforward and there is no reason for it not to operate efficiently and most importantly transparently.

  20. yeshe 22

    My chin hit the floor at this outrage … hidden until now it seems — from Bryce Edwards round up on cronyism this afternoon:
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11248389

    “The NBR’s Matthew Hooton (paywalled) is now running an on going campaign against ‘corporate welfare’ …..and Hooton focuses on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), which he says has become ‘a socialist monstrosity, the likes of which Mr Anderton could only dream’. Hooton draws attention to numerous subsidizing roles that MBIE undertakes, focusing particular attention on a golf tournament example:

    “Mr Joyce personally decided that Sir Michael Hill’s annual golf tournament – some call it a private party – should receive $2 million of taxpayers’ money. Mr Joyce knew the tournament was certain to make a loss. Therefore, he decided, taxpayers should reduce the losses of its promoters, who have close links to the government. The golf tournament’s backers even got to present their case directly to senior ministers, after the Major Events Investment Panel – chaired by a close personal friend of the prime minister’s chief of staff – couldn’t make up its mind”.

    When Matthew Hooton is writing like this .. my goodness ! Whatever next ? Thanks for highlighting it.

    • Paul 22.1

      Add it to the list of the government’s rich mates.
      Just waiting for a blip list soon.

  21. Ben Adam 23

    I am trying to see how many ministers in this government during the last six years have resigned, were asked to resign, demoted or have been sacked for inefficiency, conflict of interest, corruption or dodgy behaviour or practices.

    These are the names I remember from memory:

    (1) Richard Worth
    (2) Pansy Wong
    (3) Phil Heatley
    (4) Maurice Williamson.
    (5) Banks
    (6) ?

    Any others that I have missed out? I am sure there are more! (and others that deserve to resign or to be sacked). I would like to see the full list. Please add on if you know.

    • karol 23.1

      Nick Smith

    • Hayden 23.2

      Would David Garrett count?

      • Ben Adam 23.2.1

        Yes, he would, in a way! He was part of this right wing coalition government, though not a minister I think. Google says tjis :”Garrett is the author of the “three strikes” legislation which was supported by the National Party and incorporated into the Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill which became law in May 2010. He was ranked fifth on the ACT party list. He resigned from the ACT party on 17 September 2010 less than 48 hours after it was revealed he had used the identity of a dead child to obtain a false passport.[1] He was formally confirmed as an independent MP at the beginning of the following week but resigned from Parliament in disgrace shortly thereafter.

    • karol 23.3

      Dunne?

  22. Tracey 24

    I wonder how that compares to previous 2 term governments.

    simon power resigned too

    • srylands 24.1

      You are getting all frothy about Ministerial conduct. The Collins thing is such a beat up. Maurice was a fool and he paid the price. But he was always a loose unit.

      From memory this is a list of Ministers who resigned or were sacked in the 5th Labour Government. There is nothing here. Focus on the big policy issues.

      Dover Samuels
      Ruth Dyson.
      Marian Hobbs
      Phillida Bunkle
      Harry Duynhoven.
      Lianne Dalziel.
      John Tamihere
      David Benson-Pope.
      Taito Phillip Field
      David Parker.
      David Benson-Pope.
      Winston Peters

      • McFlock 24.1.1

        lol
        Several of those cases you mention were while an independent investigation took place, and they were subsequently reinstated after no case was found to answer.

        That’s called “accountability”.

        If Key applied the same standards of integrity as Helen Clark, many of his ministers would be goneburger – himself and Collins included.

        But that’s an ethical matter, I wouldn’t expect you to understand.

      • freedom 24.1.2

        “From memory this is a list of Ministers who resigned or were sacked in the 5th Labour Government. ”

        Q: Why is Duynhoven on the list then?

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Duynhoven

        Harry Duynhoven.

        In 2003, it was alleged that Duynhoven might have accidentally violated an electoral regulation, thus depriving him of his seat. This claim arose after Duynhoven applied to resume his citizenship of the Netherlands. His father was from the Netherlands, and Duynhoven had possessed citizenship from birth, but had temporarily lost it due to a change of Netherlands law. According to electoral law, applying for foreign citizenship would require Duynhoven to vacate his seat. The law was seen by many as misguided, however, and Duynhoven, with his huge majority, was almost certain to re-enter Parliament in the event of a by-election. As such, the government passed an act retroactively amending the law.

        Duynhoven served as a Minister outside Cabinet of Helen Clark’s Labour Government with the portfolio of Associate Minister of Transport, and later, Minister for Transport Safety and Associate Minister of Energy until his government’s defeat. He did not stand as a party list candidate in the 2008 general election.

        Duynhoven was made a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order in the 2012 New Year Honours, for services as a Member of Parliament.[4]

    • Wayne 24.2

      Tracey,

      As well you know, that was because he was retiring in 2011, (as was the case with myself). Nothing to do with our actions as Ministers. On your analysis you would include Steve Mahery. But you know that would be ridiculous.

      • Tracey 24.2.1

        I responded to a post which asked who had resigned and then listed other variations. had I recalled you had resigned I would have included you. however deep down I believe simon had ideological reasons for going, unlike the feeling I have about your departure or steve mahareys.

        you must be giddy with excitement over mr bollards prediction today.

  23. Ad 25

    You can however draw a distinction between taking money that you know will affect your Ministerial decision (which I would term corruption), and engaging with business towards an economic development goal.

    Hooten and Whaleoil’s view of government engagement with business is precisely the same as many commentators here from the hard left: do not engage with business. Be pure. Pure for whole lot of reasons, including those that both left and right can agree on:
    – Countries and industries, not individual companies, should benefit from government intervention
    – WTO rules limit the state colluding with exporters
    – Business is inherently self-interested and not about being good to people
    – It’s wrong to prop up capitalism and those businesses that fail should be left to fail

    Overall I don’t agree with any of those reasons. Helen Clark certainly viewed business engagement with a significant hygiene factor; big corporates were too powerful not to distort your decisions.

    But there are no pure decisions in government. Government is there to change things. Government should engage with business more, not less.

    It’s not a question of degree of engagement for me, and certainly not a matter of scale; it’s a matter of openly scrutinisable process when deploying taxpayer or ratepayer dollars, and when using parliamentary process.

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