Dunne’s deal?

Written By: - Date published: 9:58 am, November 3rd, 2008 - 37 comments
Categories: corruption, election 2008, election funding, united future - Tags:

The revelations in today’s Dompost that Peter Dunne’s United party took a donation from the Vela family shows again what a messy business donations can be. The Vela family opposed New Zealand following a new UN fishing agreement. Ross Meurant, acting for the Velas met with Dunne, days later he issued a press release opposing elements of the new rules. Meurant recommended that the Velas give Dunne a $5,000 donation to recognise his assistance and because it might make Dunne, then Revenue Minister, more sympathetic to tax issues the Velas were facing. The donation was given in 1999 or 2002.

It doesn’t look good but it’s not proof of corruption. Lobbying a politician is perfectly legitimate. Giving a donation to a politician is perfectly legitimate. It is natural that people will donate to parties whose policies they support. The problem is when a donation causes policy. It becomes a bit of a mutant chicken and the egg situation – did the donation cause the policy or the policy the donation, or would the policy have happened without the donation?

Meurant’s language, that a donation should be given because of Dunne’s “assistance” and “I believe the donation will have the effect of moderating opposition he [Mr Dunne] may have previously displayed toward IRD- related issues involving Vela Group” suggest the donation is leading to the policy but who knows? I’m not going to damn Dunne based on the word selection of the lead thug of the Springbok riots.

However, it is clear from the papers the Dom has quoted that Dunne was actively involved in the fundraising activities of his party, that he knew when donations were coming and who from. That’s a no-no. Leaders should not be actively involved in handling donations to prevent the appearance of cash for policy. As with all conflict of interest, it is the potential for conflict that is the problem. While Dunne has denied any link between his press release and the Vela donation, he still has questions to answer as to why he is directly involved with donations.

During the Glenn-Peters saga, I remember seeing the leaders asked whether they were involved in fundraising for their parties. It would be interesting to see what Dunne said. If he misled the media and the public just weeks ago, that would be a serious issue.

All in all, this is another example of why we need proper pubic funding of political parties. There is too much potential for corruption in the current system. The intersection between lobbyists and donors, all operating in a murky world, is not healthy. We should be willing to invest in the integrity of our democracy by freeing political parties from the need to go cap in hand to wealthy interests.

37 comments on “Dunne’s deal?”

  1. rjs131 1


    I hardly think there is going to be a groundswell of support for public funding of poltical parties, in light of the Labour party funding Mike Williams to trawl through zillions of pages of court documents, thinking he would find something that a number of legal investigators had completely missed. Do you think paying for such flights, if there such public funding of poliical parties is a legitimate use of taxpayer money?

  2. coge 2

    I’ve had this belief that any centrist/conservative politicians (ie Dunne & Peters) would be in for a rude awakening having nailed their colours to Labours mast. Roll on Saturday, & see if my idea is correct.

  3. weak rjs31. you’re seriously arguing that a couple of thousand at most on a trip to aussie is proof that political parties don’t spend their money usefully and therefore don’t need public funding? And, if Williams had found proof, would that still have been waste of money?

    The real issue here is whether going cap in hand to wealthy interests leads to parties changing their policies. That’s a big serious issue, try to address it.

  4. Felix 4

    Wouldn’t it be funny if Dunne lost his seat and won 4% of the party vote?

  5. If Dunne loses his seat it’ll be happy days indeed. They’re not going to get 4%, and we shouldn’t cheer people wasting their votes but it would be great to be rid of UF.

  6. Rakaia George 6

    I think public funding of electioneering is, to coin a phrase, “outside of the kiwi value system”.

    Most people tolerate political advertising at best, they don’t want to have to foot the bill for it as well…do you really imagine the public will accept politicians allocating themselves taxpayers money, when they see local schools selling chocolate bars to fund-raise?

  7. randal 7

    well paul holmes and his worm created them one night in a teevee studio so I guess someone is now going to turn out the lights for good

  8. Ianmac 8

    Steve: Interesting angle re MP being involved with Knowing or helping with funding given Mr Dunnes carefully considered words re the Peters’ Privileges Com sanction. Funny that the ever-vigilant Sean did not pick this up this morning.

  9. exbrethren 9

    Dunne is likely to be guilty.

    Never trust a Christian politician, especially one with such bad hair.

    One question, is Mr Key now going to rule out working with Dunne? Thought not. More double standards / flip flops.

  10. Felix 10

    Rakaia’s instinctual understanding of the “kiwi value system” he just invented may even predate his actual setting foot on the shores of Aotearoa.

    What’s your favourite “kiwi value”?

  11. gomango 11

    Not sure about public funding but i like the sound of “proper pubic funding……..”

  12. randal 12

    rakaai should read “the fern and the tiki” by David Ausubel for an outisders view of nz national character, social attitudes, and race relations which was written in 1960 (just like the world bank report) and nothing has changed. funny that.
    just because we have acquired more expensive consumer goods does not mean that the fundamentals have altered.

  13. Felix 13

    Yes, how old do you have to be to apply for “pubic funding”?

  14. Daveski 14

    I understand the issue with big business possibly influencing policies.

    But how is this any different from unions who give so willingly and often to Labour in particular?

  15. Rakaia George 15

    Felix – probably the firmly-held belief that you all see the world completely differently from the various British tribes. It’s charming and quaint.

    Randal – thanks for the recommendation, I may just do that. I’m not sure how much extra insight it will give me compared with decades-worth of beers drunk with my father-in-law but I’m an avid reader…

  16. Anita 16


    To repeat an oft said refrain

    We know which Unions support Labour. We know what the Unions give Labour. We know what they ask for. We know what they get for their support.

    It’s about transparency.

  17. Daveski. Like Anita says, it’s about transperancy. But I would go further and say the unions would glady support public funding of political parties, they could use their limited money to help their members’ interests in other ways.

  18. Chris G 18

    Go Chauvel!!! hopefully this’ll sway a few voters. Especially those Labour supporters who historically vote for Dunne!

  19. Chris G 19

    coge: “I’ve had this belief that any centrist/conservative politicians (ie Dunne & Peters) would be in for a rude awakening having nailed their colours to Labours mast. Roll on Saturday, & see if my idea is correct.”

    Like how Dunne said he’s gonna work with National now? didn’t know that nailed him to Labours mast..

  20. Pixie 20

    I also agree that full transparency keeps everyone honest.

    This clumsy ring-fencing of politicians from the identity of donors belies the fact that many non-politicians working for political parties have enormous influence over the formulation of policy. (The main role of the politicians is in selling the policy and while they too have input, they certainly don’t dot and cross all the “i”s and “t”s.) Are they too all shielded from knowing the identity of donors?

  21. randal 21

    well keep in mind after the election is over and you are licking your wounds that this is why you have lost the election

  22. Felix 22


    which british tribe are you part of and how does that inform your sense of “kiwi values”?

  23. Rakaia George 23


    “Several but predominantly Northern English working class” is the answer to your first question, and “it doesn’t” is the answer to your second. It’s the being married into a 5 generation Kiwi family for the best part of a decade that informs me that our value systems are very closely aligned.

  24. Felix 24

    Wow, so it really is the drinking with your father-in-law which gives you that amazing insight.

    Teach us about ourselves, o wise one.

  25. Rakaia George 25

    What’s the point when you’re so obviously a know-it-all already?

    Back to the original question before you got all ad hominem – do you really think that ordinary Kiwis would be happy for tax payers to fund political parties?

  26. randal 26

    the answer to that is a resounding yes
    it doesnt cost all that much to run an election and congratulations to TV1 for providing free coverage of the major parties
    that si enough to display the difference to the people without having to endure a media blitz solely controlled by the depth of funding
    so the answer is yes
    Kiwis want a fair go and above all an honest system and they are preapred to pay for that
    and dont forget it

  27. Felix 27

    It wasn’t a question, it was stated as your opinion (based on your understanding of kiwi values) that we would not.

    I am merely shedding a little light on the weight of your opinion and the depth of your understanding.

  28. randal 28

    and its not funding of parties
    it is funding of media campaigns during the election
    so please be more precise in your use of terms

  29. Felix 29

    randal, yep. It’s the basic sense of fairness at the heart of the New Zealand spirit that “Rakaia” doesn’t have a clue about.

  30. Ianmac 30

    Funding of Parties is done overseas. Unfortunately it is optional in the States. Obama opted out. Cain opted in to State funding and regrets.
    The difficulty with State funding is how do Parties not yet elected get funded?

  31. John 31

    Great to see the Greens say that they won’t go with Labour if Winston is a minister..
    They have totally out-manoeuvred Labour on this.
    Helen blew it when the Privileges Committee sanctioned Winston. That was her opportunity to cast him adrift.

  32. Rakaia George 32

    You think that politicians dipping into tax payers’ money while the local school sells chocolate bars to fund-raise won’t offend the Kiwi “sense of fairness”? Yeah, whatever guys.

    Try asking that question at the local RSA.

  33. Felix 33

    Ok “Rakaia”. Now we know how you kiwis feel. Nice one.

  34. randal 34

    if they can afford beer then they can afford to give
    at the risk of an ad hominem you are a numbskull

  35. Paul Robeson 35

    Will John Key rule out working with Peter Dunne?

    or does principle only extend to Nats who jumped ship?

  36. Quoth the Raven 36

    coge – Since when has Dunne been centrist? It doesn’t make him centrist if he says so. He’s right wing this centrist stuff is just a figment of Dunne’s vivid imagination. I believe he inhales too much hairspray and hallucinates.

  37. gobsmacked 37

    If the Nats get in, we can start the betting on which MP will be the first to get the chop from Prime Minister Key (a Man of Principle). As Forrest Gump might have said: integrity is as integrity does.

    Dunne has now joined the death race, along with Williamson, McCully, Groser (who did not inhale), Pansy Wong (who just helped a donor), and plenty more no doubt.

    But it sounds like wannabe MP Kanwal Bakshi is the new favourite. How’s this for a vote of non-confidence:

    “Mr Key today said he had not spoken to Mr Bakshi directly but other party officials had and he was standing by him for now.” (NZPA)


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