The latest Parliamentary Register of Pecuniary Interests has been published. This is where MPs are meant to disclose all sorts of information about what gifts they have received. And it is an important aspect of our democratic system.
I reckon they should post every single benefit they receive. Just so we can make sure they are not being influenced by overly generous donations from interesting sources.
MPs are meant to disclose every gift worth more than $500.
Here is Simon Bridges’s declaration:
But it seems that Simon may have omitted something. From Tova O’Brien at Newshub:
Jami-Lee Ross has attempted another attack on Simon Bridges – this time accusing him of failing to declare wine, food and gifts from National Party donor Zhang Yikun.
Ross, a former National MP, said it all happened at the same dinner that he alleged Bridges received the controversial $100,000 donation from the Chinese businessman.
Bridges, the National leader, has completely denied the allegations and said they are defamatory.
Ross has declared food, alcohol and gifts from Zhang Yikun in the Register of Pecuniary Interests – where MPs must officially declare gifts over $500.
The Botany MP sent Newshub pictures from a dinner, and said he and Bridges helped drink five bottles of $200-a-bottle wine, ate a lot of expensive food, and were given a case of wine each – all adding up to more than $500.
Yikun was not mentioned in Bridges’ Pecuniary Interests.
“It would be against Parliament’s rules for an MP not to declare gifts over $500 in value, so I’m surprised Simon hasn’t declared it – he probably should,” Ross told Newshub.
Again, Bridges has denied he ate or drank that much or received a case of wine.
Ross said Bridges gave the wine to him to look after and it got cleared out by the National Party when he was sacked from Caucus.
Despite Bridges’ denials, Newshub has reported this because the allegations are serious – omitting details in the register is tantamount to misleading Parliament. But Bridges maintains he didn’t and won’t be amending the record.
There is heightened sensitivity about Bridges relationship with Zhang Yikun and a Serious Fraud Office investigation into the undisclosed donation discussed at the dinner which has been linked to a possible favourable National Party list position. So this particular disclosure is not helpful.
It makes you wonder what else Ross has on Bridges.