Today’s front-page story in the DominionPost on New Zealand First is a complete beat-up. It starts off:
More questions have been raised about donations to NZ First over a $20,000 deposit to the party’s bank account that does not appear on its register of declared donations.
Really? The story goes on:
The Dominion Post has obtained a deposit slip showing $19,998 was deposited in one or more cheques into the party’s coffers in December 1999.
One or more cheques? For $19,998, not $20,000? The most likely explanation for that number is that the deposit form included two cheques for $9,999.
The donation, banked into the party’s Westpac account, fuels the issue of big-business donations to NZ First – a party that has proclaimed that it does not take money from big-business donors.
How does it do that if it is a deposit slip? We are not told who the donors are.
Electoral Commission records for 1999 show that NZ First did not declare any donations of more than $10,000 – the threshold requiring such a donation to be reported.
If the deposit was for two cheques for $9,999 both cheques would be under the threshold and would not be required to be declared. The deposit would be perfectly legal.
Contacted for comment yesterday, the party leader, Winston Peters, said: “Phil, I told you I’m not talking to a lying wanker like you. See you.” He then hung up.
Perhaps Winston has a point.