Horan’s accusations against NZ First

Brendan Horan accused Winston Peters and NZ First of misusing funds and parliamentary staff yesterday.

• NZ First used about $20,000 from its taxpayer-funded leader’s budget to purchase the Vanguard “constituent management software”.
• Mr Horan claims Vanguard is used to seek memberships and donations which is against Parliament’s rules.
• NZ First staff who are paid by Parliamentary Service are running the software which is also against Parliament’s rules.

(http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11259250)

Budget Debate – 21st May, 2014 – Part 6Date: 21/05/14Topic: Budget DebatePeople: Andrew Williams, Barbara Stewart,Brendan Horan, Richard Prosser

Starts at 5:45

The draft transcript:

BUDGET DEBATE

15:59:30~BRENDAN HORAN (Independent)

I turn now to Vote Parliamentary Service. Recently I have received information that raises real questions about the use of parliamentary funding by a party. I am writing to the Speaker asking that the Parliamentary Service investigate these matters and report to him. There is a clear precedent for this when in December 2001 the then general manager, John O’Sullivan, reported to the Speaker on the Alliance electorate liaison unit. That report swept aside any uncertainty that might have existed and clearly stated the rules. The Leader of New Zealand First cannot claim to be ignorant—

Richard Prosser: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

BRENDAN HORAN: —but in the past 18 months has—

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Order! [Interruption] Order! There is a point of order.

Richard Prosser: The Budget debate is around the Government’s allocation of funding for various means and the use of that funding—.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): No. Look—[Interruption] Order! The member will sit. The member in opening talked about Vote Parliamentary Service. That is what he is speaking on and he can continue in that vein. I am listening very carefully to what he is saying. That comes under Speaker’s rulings. I am inviting Brendan Horan to continue.

BRENDAN HORAN: It is good to see he had a voice there, but a shame he does not have a vertebrae.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Order! That is completely out of order. That is an attack on the integrity of a member of this House. The member will withdraw and apologise for that comment.

BRENDAN HORAN: I withdraw and apologise for that comment.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Brendan Horan—continue.

BRENDAN HORAN: He has deliberately withheld information from the board of the NZ First Party. The NZ First Party—

Andrew Williams: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Under Standing Order 117, “Personal reflections”, a member may not make an imputation of improper motives against a member, an offensive reference to a private member’s affairs”—Standing Order 117.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Look, I know that this is a very interesting subject. This debate is about the spending not the person. We are in a debate on Vote Parliamentary Service. Anything to do with the appropriation and the way that money has been appropriated, how it is being used, and how it is being spent is a matter for debate, and that is what we are on now. So Brendan Horan will continue.

BRENDAN HORAN: The NZ First Party is using taxpayer-funded computer software for party political purposes such as campaigning and fundraising. The programme codenamed “Vanguard”—

Barbara Stewart: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Again Mr Horan is transgressing Standing Order 117, making a personal reflection a member or a—

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): No, no. The member has talked about a party. He has not mentioned any individual in this matter.

Hon Annette King: That’s cute.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Sorry? And if we look at Standing Order 117 it says that “A member may not make an imputation of improper motives against a member, an offensive reference to a member’s private affairs, or ae personal reflection against a member.” I am listening very carefully to this. The member must keep focusing on the appropriation to Parliamentary Service, the use and appropriation of that money and any concerns that the member may have, if that is the way that his speech wishes to continue.

Andrew Williams: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Speaker has in the last 2 weeks on numerous occasions advised members that if they have any issue in this regard, it should be referred in the normal manner through the Privileges Committee or through other official channels; it should not be raised in this House. The Speaker has made that ruling on numerous occasions. We would like that to be upheld.

Brendan Horan: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): The member will sit. That may well be the case that there is a referral to the committee, but this is a debating chamber and members in this House have freedom of expression, freedom to express their views. I am listening very carefully to this. I will ask the member to focus on Vote Parliamentary Service. As I have mentioned before, the debate is about the appropriation of the money and the use of that money, and the member should not bring into account the integrity of any member of this House. All members are honourable members. I will ask the member to focus on that.

BRENDAN HORAN: Vote Parliamentary Service —the New Zealand First Party is using taxpayer-funded computer software for party political purposes such as campaigning and fund-raising. The program, code named Vanguard, is a constituent relationships management system that stores personal details of voters and is used for mass mail-outs. Other political parties have these programs too—

Barbara Stewart: I raise a point of order, Mr Assistant Speaker. This program has not been launched. It is not part of—

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): That is not a point of order. I will ask members that on point of orders, they have to be relevant to the matter. That is not a point of order.

BRENDAN HORAN: Other political parties have these programs too, but they are funded by the parties themselves and operated outside of Parliament. New Zealand First paid tens of thousands of dollars out of the leader’s budget to develop this software and has its parliamentary staff working to run the program for election year. This is a clear breach of Parliamentary Service guidelines. An internal party strategy document dated 9 March 2014 states, under the heading “Funds”: “Campaign fund request, first two weeks April—Self-funding after initial distribution, followed by use of Vanguard appeals to focus groups”. A memo to the party board by the president, Anne Martin, dated 10 March 2014, states: “The director of operations canvassed the use of Vanguard computer program. Suggest board advised of its uses, including candidates’ college program as well.” This use of parliamentary resources for fund-raising appeals and political campaigning is more than questionable, especially from the New Zealand First Party, which promised a fair go in the last election. The public has a right to know what its money is being used for and whether it is being used legally. A company called Lone Star Market Research was registered on 1 August 2012. The company’s sole director is New Zealand First’s director of operations in Parliament, and is a member of the party’s campaign committee. The company was set up with the intention of conducting political activity for New Zealand First. New Zealand needs an assurance from Parliamentary Service and the leader of New Zealand First that Lone Star Market Research has not received one cent of taxpayer money, nor had the use of parliamentary resources. New Zealand First—[Interruption]

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Order! There is a point of order from Barbara Stewart.

Barbara Stewart: I raise a point of order, Mr Assistant Speaker. This information is totally incorrect. It is just fantasising, and although I realise it is a wide-ranging debate—

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): No, no; I do not need any help. I have indicated that anything relating to Vote Parliamentary Service is in order. If the member ties that into Vote Parliamentary Service, that—

Barbara Stewart: But it’s wrong.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Whether it is wrong or right is a matter for debate. This is a debating chamber. It is not for me to judge the accuracy of the information that has been presented. So long as it ties into Vote Parliamentary Service, it is in order. Brendan Horan has 1 minute remaining.

BRENDAN HORAN: Vote Parliamentary Service—the New Zealand First Party membership secretary, present at board meetings and recorded in the minutes of those meetings, is paid by Parliamentary Service for a full-time, out-of-Parliament support role in the New Zealand First office in Bank Street, Whangarei. This is a clear conflict of interest. This paper trail leads down the pathway to inappropriate use of public moneys, serious conflicts of interest, secrecy, and a lack of transparency and accountability, and all from a party that purports to hold everyone else to task. There seem to be clear breaches of the Speaker’s directions on provision of services to MPs and parties. Staff would seem to be in breach of the Parliamentary Service code of conduct. I call upon the leader of that party to open his leader’s budget accounts to the scrutiny of the Speaker first, and then to the public of New Zealand.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): I call the Hon Chris Tremain. [Interruption] Point of order, Brendan Horan.

BRENDAN HORAN (Independent): I seek leave to table an email received on 6 May 2014, stating facts re Vanguard.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Leave is sought for that purpose. Is there any objection? There is objection.

BRENDAN HORAN (Independent): I seek leave to table the minutes from the New Zealand First board meeting on 2 March 2013.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Leave is sought for that purpose. Is there any objection? There is objection.

Brendan Horan: Point of order, Mr Assistant Speaker.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): How many points of order do you have?

Brendan Horan: Well, there are number—

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Order! One moment. Look, points of order will be heard in silence. I am asking the member how many points of order he is intending to bring forward.

Brendan Horan: Three more.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): OK.

BRENDAN HORAN (Independent): I seek leave to table a New Zealand First memo to electorates in mid-July.

BUDGET DEBATE

16:14:54~The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch)

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Leave is sought for that purpose. Is there any objection? There is objection.

BRENDAN HORAN (Independent): I seek leave to table a report to the board by Anne Martin, of 10 March 2014.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Leave is sought for that purpose. Is there any objection? There is objection.

BRENDAN HORAN (Independent): I seek leave to table a report of a strategy meeting on 19 March 2014, entitled “Use of Vanguard for fund-raising”.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Leave is sought for that purpose. Is there any objection? There is objection.

 —

Reported afterwards by Felix Marwick (Newstalk ZB chief political reporter):

Here’s what NZF MPs Prosser, Lole-Taylor, & Stewart had to say after Horan’s allegations in Parliament today

http://chirb.it/bcsFyn

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