In a front-page article about New Year’s honours focussing on expatriate Kiwi Owen Glenn’s contribution to the Labour Party, Auckland University, and numerous other New Zealand charities, the Herald stated that wealthy American billionaire Julian Robertson, “who contributed to National last election”, is now banned from giving money to political parties here.
Until this admission, Robertson has been best known in New Zealand for his exclusive golf courses at Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers, both built on prime sea view land and coming with exorbitant green fees.
During the last election, when it was relevant and the issue of Robertson’s contributions issue was raised by Trevor Mallard, the Herald ran Don Brash and Steven Joyce’s denials that Robertson was a donor. They quoted Joyce’s words “we did not get any cheques from Americans”, as if that was the only way money arrived! Don Brash was quoted as saying that the notion that Americans were funding National’s campaign a “thundering lie”.
The Hollow Men (pp257-258) however reveals that on the inside National was concerned to play down the association between American money and National policy. Richard Long drafted the vehement response lines for Brash and McCully, although the responses re fundraising by Americans were more “slippery”, into the don’t know category, and Long suggested questions from journalists should be deflected to the party officials, as they were.
It’s no wonder that the Herald thinks that hidden money doesn’t matter in elections when they just take the National Party feed – their 2005 story ran straight along the Long lines.