Why are we waiting for Pansy Wong to resign from Parliament for her corrupt use of her MP’s perks or, failing that, for the Nats to evict her? The theory is the Nats want to avoid a by-election over summer. As Trevor Mallard puts it – Key wants to have his Hawaii holiday in peace. But the NBR’s Matt Nippert has other reasons for Wong’s soft treatment.
Nippert’s article (behind the paywall) says that Wong is a useless electorate MP but has wiggled her way into vital positions within the party that make her difficult to dispense with:
“She was very important for National Party fundraising,” a source said. The insider recounts a party conference in the lead-up to the last election where Mrs Wong hosted a fundraising event that garnered $200,000.
“One Chinese businessman paid $50,000 for John Key’s tie,” the source said. “She was a money-making machine and therefore was given a lot of latitude.”
So, at one event Wong, with her connections in the Asian business community, raised $200,000. That’s a huge amount, enough to fund several electorate campaigns or a good hunk of the national campaign. With the electoral laws tightening up on donations through secret trusts, the ability to fundraise at events like this is something the Nats will be loath to give up. And they don’t have anyone else who brings the connections to the Asian business community, because Wong has been careful to eliminate competition.
A National Party source said Mrs Wong had been very effective in defending her turf. “Pansy and Sammy burned off other potential Asian candidates who might make a challenge and very much tried to own that part of the market.”
Another National Party source recounted a meeting in Mrs Wong’s electorate office in 2007. A young woman wanted to volunteer and said she could bring extensive contacts with the Korean community.
“Pansy pulled herself up to her full height and said she had contacts in the Korean community already. This girl was so humiliated, she never returned. Pansy would eliminate any perceived rivals to her grip on the Asian community.”
It’s a very Darwinistic way of doing politics – a very rightwing way. Like an animal eliminating competition for food sources, Wong forced out of the party people who would bring the same connections she had and, so, undermine her usefulness to the party.
But there’s another reason why a by-election in Botany is something the Nats are trying to delay. While she has been playing Machiavellian games of intra-party politics, being one of the worst ministers on record, and corruptly abusing taxpayer money, Wong has let the local party go to rot:
But this ability to raise funds hasn’t translated into effective grass-roots politics. Party membership of the Botany electorate, where Mrs Wong was elected with a 10,000-vote majority, is understood to be extremely low. Another party source cites the alarmingly low, and very precise, number of 134 National Party members in the electorate.
134 members in a seat where 19,355 people voted National at the last election. That’s disgraceful. To fight and win a by-election convincingly, National will have to draw on the resources of the rest of Auckland big time. And that by-election is coming, once National has the local organisation sorted and alternative routes to money from the Asian business community secured.
Sources said Mrs Wong would probably resign from Parliament and force a by-election.
And if she resigns, the Wongs won’t be left without income. According to filings with the Parliament’s register of pecuniary interests, the Wongs own property in Auckland and Christchurch, and shares in Smith City and Christchurch Gondola New Zealand.
Mr Wong is also a director and shareholder, along with former Prime Minister Dame Jenny Shipley, in Shipley & Wong. The company was founded in 2002 with the involvement of another former cabinet minister, Wyatt Creech. Mr Creech resigned in 2004. Neither Dame Jenny nor Mr Creech returned calls.
Hmm. There’s that Wyatt Creech up to his ears in another dodgy business along with other former Nats. First Open County Dairy (which John Key has an interest in via the Dairy Investment Fund) and, now, the mysterious companies based out of Wong’s electorate office. The Nats will want to make damn sure they’ve got any remaining skeletons out of Wong’s closest before the by-election campaign gets going.
Update: A mate points out the resignation may have been delayed by the Pike River disaster, which might explain this quote in a Stuff article “Mr Key flew back to Wellington last night from Auckland after a sudden change in plans”