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Mike's Minute: NZ First saga shows donation laws aren't working

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 20 Nov 2019, 10:23AM

Mike's Minute: NZ First saga shows donation laws aren't working

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 20 Nov 2019, 10:23AM

I suppose you could include Jami Lee Ross in all of this. It was his once job as the National Party bag man that landed him in trouble. And as he went down, he tried to take Simon Bridges, and his former party with him.

Chinese money, what you get if you give it to a political party and how it can be potentially broken up into lots of little donations.

They’ve had the same trouble numerous times across the Tasman. New South Wales has an entire Corruption Commission looking at a Chinese bloke who gave Labour $100,000. The Americans angst over it continually. Big money, big PR, big lobby.

Here, like most places we have rules, but what do the rules mean? You can have lunch with the Prime Minister if you want, it's $1500.

Is that a scam? Not really, because John Key raised a fortune for charity over the years selling off lunches, dinners, and morning teas. And no one blinked an eye, but that was for charity.

So I suppose if you are going to point the finger, over what aspect of the transaction are you pointing? Is it the money to get close to the powerful? Or is it where the money actually goes?

Is lunch with Jacinda Ardern more suspect because she's putting the money into the party? The same way National ran the "Cabinet Club." The same way Labour have pimped out Grant Robertson as a Wellington MP, as opposed to the Finance Minister, because the rules say you can't sell a Cabinet Minister.

And now taking it all to potentially a whole new level, New Zealand First it would seem are running a foundation where by the money is a loan, and because a loan gets paid back it’s not a donation.

Therefore nothing is declared, but what if they cover the party expenses? The outcome is the same, you're raising money for political purposes and it's not transparent. But equally importantly it's not illegal. Or is it?

And here's the ultimate irony, everyone accuses everyone of hypocrisy. Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens lambasted National for their "Cabinet Club," and yet are doing exactly the same thing.

Perhaps another irony, Labour seemingly the champions of the silent struggler, apparently have no issue overlooking the hypocrisy of hanging with the select few who have $1500 for lunch lying about.

And that is the trouble with rules, in an attempt to contain and control, it gets complicated and tricky, if not sticky.

The more you try to rein in a natural, competitive, and lucrative urge, you have entered the seemingly unwinnable contest between pure commerce and societal morality.

I'd say, given what we know, which is almost certainly not as much as we don’t know, the rules are losing.

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