Bob Jones confirmed on Morning Report that he gave $25,000 in 2005 to New Zealand First. The money was to be funnelled to NZF through the Spencer Trust but, according to the party’s declaration of donations the money was not passed on (parties’ declarations of donations are supposed to include any donations from a legal or natural person totalling over $10,000 in a financial year, NZF reports no donations over $10K since 2004 and none from the Spencer Trust).
Now, we have what appears to be proof of wrongdoing in New Zealand First. Either the money donated by people like Jones through the Spencer Trust was used to pay NZF bills and it wasn’t properly declared or the money was not used to pay the NZF’s bills but for some other reason, which is not why the money was donated. It may be that Peters was not aware that this was happening but something is rotten inside NZF.
The only way to clear all this up now is for all parties to open the books of their secret trusts so that Kiwis can finally be certain of who has been donating to parties and that the money has been used as donors intended. Here is a list of all secret trusts, the party each gave to, and the totals of declared money funnelled through them since 1996.
NZ Free Enterprise Trust – $635,000
South Free Enterprise Trust – $17,999
Waitemata Trust – $2,100,188
Ruahine Trust – $318,948
Holland Memorial Trust – $152,168.71
Spencer Trust – ?
(some parties, mostly National, also received money funnelled through law firm trust funds but there is no way those could be opened to scrutiny)
Fortunately, these trusts are now illegal thanks to the Electoral Finance Act but that’s useless if money from them is simply not declared. Now, parties must prove they’ve been honest. So, how about it National and NZF? Restore our faith; open up the trusts.
[Update: To be clear. I would love to see all large (say $200+) anonymous donations banned but it’s not possible to open the lawyers’ trust accounts or name past anonymous donors, whereas it is possible to open up the books of the trusts. For the record, since 1996 declared donations through secret trusts, lawyers trusts, or given anonymously have totalled: Nats-$4.3mil, Lab-$2.1mil, Act-$0.8mil, Greens-$20K, UF-$37.5K, Progs-$40K, NZF $6.3K]