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Melissa’s election expenses returned?

Written By: - Date published: 10:28 am, May 13th, 2009 - 50 comments
Categories: national - Tags: ,

An interesting story on TV3 last night about potential for conflict of interest relating to Asia Down Under, a broadcasting company owned by Melissa Lee which produced a political documentary during the last election.

Even more interesting was what was revealed about a video about Asian candidates made for the National Party and published on their website. According to an eyewitness, Melissa Lee’s company provided equipment and staff time for the video.

The cost of that would be both a donation and an election expense. There is no mention of Asia Down Under on the National Party’s expense return.

Perhaps somebody should investigate.

50 comments on “Melissa’s election expenses returned? ”

  1. Eddie 1

    Good summation, John.

    The really bad part of this to my mind is the National Party ad using NZ On Air funds. That’s serious stuff, not just for Lee but for Key.

    It was actually the dynamite part of the story, heaven knows why they kept it till the end but well worth watching through the whole thing

  2. What is that starting with “C” that we heard all the time last year”

    • burt 2.1

      It’s corruption mickysavage.

      You remember the stuff that you defended again and again when Labour did it.

      Should we “move on” or should we hold the MP’s accountable?

      Careful mickysavage, lots of links exist on Kiwiblog and the standard where you have defended such stuff.

    • Hey, where did that word “word” go?

  3. gobsmacked 3

    The Nats do seem to struggle with their campaign videos, don’t they?

    But this is much worse than the Coldplay Clock-up. Remember Key’s response then?

    “That doesn’t meet the standards I believe in. I set high standards and the standards for the party are arguably different standards than just being close to the law.” (NZ Herald)

    Over to you, John.

  4. toad 4

    mickysavage said: What is that starting with “C’ that we heard all the time last year’

    I’ve already blogged that one micky – over here.

  5. Greg 5

    I agree.

    But again its a tad hypocritical. Why doesn’t Labour file expense returns for the time of Union staff?

    • The Voice of Reason 5.1

      Just a guess, Greg, but probably for the same reason that the Nats don’t put in expense returns for Farrar, WhaleOil, the EMA staff et al. They are volunteers, not paid employees or contractors of the parties concerned.

    • IrishBill 5.2

      Because that’s done voluntarily (who would have thought that some people that want to work for unions might also be politically active) and not taxpayer funded.

      • Tim Ellis 5.2.1

        Asia Downunder staff aren’t taxpayer funded, IB. The company is funded by NZ On Air to produce programmes. Just as unions are funded in part by taxpayers to produce employment education programmes. That doesn’t mean unions are funded by taxpayers, or that union staff supporting the Labour Party are doing so on taxpayer money.

        • exbrethren 5.2.1.1

          Asia Downunder staff filmed the election sequences and Nat Party Ad on tax payer funded time and Melissa Lee used standover tactics to get the message she wanted according to interviewee.

        • IrishBill 5.2.1.2

          At the risk of sidetracking this thread I can tell you that it’s highly likely the cornerstone funding for Lee’s company will be NZ on Air. I know this because I have been involved in a television production company of about the same size as Lee’s and $1.2m annually is a lot of money for an outfit that size.

          I’d be surprised if her company would survive having that funding removed.

          On the other hand, unions get a tiny fraction of their income from government sources and generally to contract services such as health and safety and productivity education which they do at cost (as do employer groups).

          • Tim Ellis 5.2.1.2.1

            That’s not the point though, is it IB? Asia Downunder is a private company. It is contracted to produce programmes. The only issue is the quality of the programming. How much money they make, or what else they do, isn’t really anybody’s business, is it? Just as what other activities unions do, after they have delivered their employment education programmes, isn’t anybody else’s business.

            I haven’t seen any criticism of the quality of AsiaDownunder’s programmes, despite being funded for 13 years to produce shows for TVNZ. Nine of those years were under a Labour Government. If Melissa Lee’s production company wasn’t doing its job of producing quality programmes, then how did she get away with it for so long?

            I suspect there are a large number of creative industry people who have done a lot for the Labour Party over the years. Are we supposed to pour over all of them, just because they too may have got most of their funding from government sources?

          • exbrethren 5.2.1.2.2

            Tim,

            there is no problem with the funding of the company, the current contract was approved under the Labour govt.

            The problem is that at the time Lee didn’t declare that she was to be a Nat MP, and there is a long standing precedent that MPs should stand down from owning media organisations to prevent conflict of interests. Harawira is one example of this.

            Also ADU were NOT given money to produce National Party election ads.

            Lee also used standover tactics in an election piece that was meant to be an independent report.

          • Tim Ellis 5.2.1.2.3

            Lee stood down from her role as a presenter and producer before the election.

            Is there really a “long standing precedent that MPs should stand down from owning media organisations”? I wasn’t aware of that.

          • exbrethren 5.2.1.2.4

            Tim,

            you obviously missed the story, try watching it.

            Although Lee had stepped down as producer it was stated in the interview that she used intimidation to get her preferred message aired.

            The precedent was also mentioned in the story.

            If Lee has a simple explanation for this matter why did back out from her scheduled interview?

            Unless she can credibly refute the allegations the taint of conflict of interest is upon her.

  6. the sprout 6

    i had wondered why Melissa Lee is so aggressive and defensive all the time, now i realise she obviously has quite a lot to hide.

    what with this corruption revelation, the Black Budget, the Anti-Supershity hikoi on the 25th, and the bulldozing of Waterview – looks like Melissa and National are on their way to a resounding humiliation in the by-election.

  7. gobsmacked 7

    The company is funded by NZ On Air to produce programmes.

    For TVNZ viewers. Not for the National Party.

    • Tim Ellis 7.1

      Gobsmacked, do you know if AsiaDownunder has an exclusive agreement with TVNZ, to only produce the Asia Downunder TV show for TVNZ and nothing else?

      Didn’t think so.

      • the sprout 7.1.1

        but let’s face it TE, despite your clever pinhead dances, Lee is going to fry for this. complicated defences never work in these situations.
        and do you think those people that have dirt on Lee from dealing with her in the past are going to desist from shoving the knife in further?
        there will be more of such revelations to come.

        • Tim Ellis 7.1.1.1

          Actually sprout, if this is the best that Trevor Mallard and the Labour Party research unit can come up with, I think she’s on pretty safe ground.

          It does make me wonder, though, why Labour are going to so much effort. It doesn’t seem to me to be a simple coincidence that Labour is fighting a must-win by-election. I think they must be very worried.

          • Pascal's bookie 7.1.1.1.1

            Wasn’t the Labour party Tim, it was Lee’s employees.

            Anyway, should the use of her companies time and resources have been declared?

      • gobsmacked 7.1.2

        Oh Tim, you’re not even trying!

        Perhaps NZ on Air will shortly release a statement saying that funding for Asia Down Under could be used for Al-Qaeda videos as far as they care, it’s only money, no problem here.

        The money was awarded for a purpose. It was (allegedly) used for another purpose. If Melissa Lee thinks that’s OK, she will no doubt say so. And her leader will agree.

        Won’t they?

  8. Pascal's bookie 8

    Tim, if it’s all so straight forward it would have been easy for Lee to front up to the already arranged interview to clear it up then wouldn’t it?

    Would have been no story.

    But instead, for some reason she bailed without even explaining with a comment. Very strange don’t you think?

    • Tim Ellis 8.1

      PB, political candidates are on a hiding to nothing with those sorts of allegations. I haven’t seen David Shearer front up publicly to explain whether he still supports mercenary armies in conflict zones, either.

      • Daveo 8.1.1

        You didn’t hear his interview with Sean Plunket a week back then. He went into it in quite some detail.

      • Pascal's bookie 8.1.2

        Sad Tim.

        David talked about that in radio interviews I believe, He certainly didn’t run away and hide acting as guilty as all sin. And there is no ethical problem involved in that issue anyway. The wheels have fallen off mate.

      • the sprout 8.1.3

        you really aren’t up to your usual standard today Tim.
        suggest you save your rep, take a step back, and let Lee defend herself.

  9. Simon Coffey 9

    “I haven’t seen David Shearer front up publicly to explain whether he still supports mercenary armies in conflict zones, either.”

    yeah i heard him being grilled on National Radio about a week ago, you must’ve missed it.

  10. toad 10

    Curious that Granny Herald have so far run nothing about the Melissa Lee – AsiaVision scandal.

    • Tim Ellis 10.1

      Nor have TVNZ. Maybe because they think it’s a beat-up and non-story primed by a disgruntled former employee, being pumped for all its worth by the Labour Party.

      • Maynard J 10.1.1

        Pumped for all its worth:

        My god there is a press release on it Tim, and Labour party MPs talked to the media when asked to comment.

        They’re really going overtime on this one.

  11. the sprout 11

    yes granny’s still waiting to hear from the damage control division at crosby textor.
    fairfax have written it up though:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/2405692/Lees-company-received-election-funds

    Tim you know as well as anyone TVNZ are staying away initally because it’s a TV3 scoop, and because it’s a scandal involving their brand. don’t worry yourself though, they’ll cover it soon enough. they’ll be obliged to.

    • Tim Ellis 11.1

      By that measure sprout TV3 only ran the story so they could take a dig at TVNZ.

      • the sprout 11.1.1

        oh yeah… that’ll be it Tim.

        I wonder how much longer TVNZ will feel comfortable about trading with Lee’s company now though, now that it’s becoming common knowledge that Asia Downunder is really just an extended ad for National party interests? Might not help the show’s ratings much either.

        I wonder what the company’s other shareholders are thinking about their investment right now?

  12. ak 12

    Heck. Highly unusual. Tim’s already run out of straws to grasp and is onto wishful thinking. This could be big.

  13. felix 13

    Could everyone just leave Tim alone? It’s really mean of you all to be picking on a lowly auditor working in a bank.

    • burt 13.1

      felix

      I never thought you were such a heartless bastard. If Tim has any job then he is doing better than a lot of people right now.

    • The Voice of Reason 13.2

      Got a copy of Kafka’s The Trial, Felix? Bet Tim has!

      The main character, Josef K, is a bank clerk unjustly persecuted by faceless bureaucrats with a hidden agenda. Said bureaucrats are secretly supported by a series of people who are outwardly friendly and supportive of K, but who all turn out to be part of a monstrous conspiracy.

      Just ‘coz you’re paranoid ….

  14. burt 14

    If National decide this spending needs to be retrospectively validated who will spend enormous amounts of effort telling me that validations are a normal part of parliamentary process?

    Hey National once validated $50m eh rOb.

    • Maynard J 14.1

      Worst. comment. ever.

      Stupid on so many levels you could sink that comment to the bottom of the Challenger Deep and it would be poking its nose out of the pacific.

      • Irascible 14.1.1

        The connection between Wong-Wang & Lee has become more obvious weith this story making my contention that Lee will try replaying the Wong-Wang campaign lines used in Botany again in Mt Albert with race being the issue for crime and anti-welfare policies to define the NACTS from other parties.

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