Peters profiting from bloodstock politics

The night before delivering on promises to the thoroughbred bloodstock industry Winston Peters fed industry leaders for a generous dollop of dollars.

Stuff: Winston Peters’ menu of prawns, porkbarrel and horse meat

In May, we reported that NZ First’s donors and supporters in the thoroughbred and bloodstock industry expected him to deliver their wish-list: an all-weather track, tax breaks for breeding, restructuring the NZ Racing Board and potentially outsourcing some TAB services to an Australian provider.

And so we come to Wednesday night, where the Deputy Prime Minister and NZ First leader gathered together three of his senior MPs and and about 80 business leaders to start with pan-tossed prawn tails and cognac liver pate and finish with his plans in government.

At $600 a head, these guests were not paying for their dinner. With respect to the head chef at the Tauranga Club, no Bay of Plenty restaurant charges that for dinner. They were paying for access to Peters and offering their financial support to his party to deliver on their wishlist.

Many were from the world of breeding and racing: Te Akau Stud’s David and Karyn Fenton-Ellis, Blandford Farm’s Graham Bax, Brendan and Jo Lindsay of Lindsay Racing, and Mark Chitty of Haunui Farms.

Peters had good news for them: he had delivered everything he promised. Not just one all-weather racecourse but three, not just tax breaks in the Budget; the very next day he would be announcing plans to restructure the NZ Racing Board.

He did not discuss details but he boasted of his restructuring plans to his wealthy donors, even before he’d disclosed them to the Racing Board itself.

The following evening at Claudelands Events Centre in Hamilton, Peters unveiled the proposed restructuring: slashing the numbers of small courses from 48 to 28, outsourcing the TAB to an Australian betting agency, replacing the Racing Board with administrative bodies controlled by the thoroughbreds industry, and the locations of the three synthetic race tracks at Riccarton, Awapuni and Cambridge.

Some of this, like cutting back the number of race courses, is sad but sensible policy.

But some initiatives – the all-weather race courses – have bypassed proper Budget approval.

And Treasury and Inland Revenue papers published this week conclude that tax breaks for “good-looking horses” will do New Zealand no good whatsoever. “Neither tax concessions nor subsidies seem justified,” they warn.

The only people who benefit from Peters’ tax breaks, estimated by Inland Revenue to cost NZ up to $40 million in lost revenue, are those who trade in horseflesh.

And those who will benefit appear to be being generous to NZ First. $600 times 80 is $48,000 – even if half of that was costs for food and drinks (that’s generous) that looks like a big payoff.

This blatant mutual back scratching isn’t all that surprising from Peters, but it must make their Labour coalition partners a bit uneasy, and while the Greens are likely to turn another blind eye they must be aghast at how NZ First is creaming big government money to their and their financial supporters’ benefit.


  1. Blazer

     /  September 2, 2018

    sounds a bit like but not as bad as ‘Cabinet Club’.

    At least its out there.

  2. David

     /  September 2, 2018

    “Mr Peters is also taking shots at the National Party’s ‘Cabinet Club’ scheme, in which people pay to attend fundraising events attended by Cabinet ministers, and embattled Justice Minister Judith Collins.”
    National was never as brazen as Peters is with his racing mates. Labour had dinner with the big drug companies and got a nice fat cheque and then changed their policy towards expensive one off drug treatments. The Greens and Act remain the only virtuous parties.

    • Blazer

       /  September 2, 2018

      yes a hallmark of National ops is that they are very….’sneaky’.

  3. Kitty Catkin

     /  September 2, 2018

    Dinners are standard fundraisers for many organisations.

    I doubt if any party could be bought for $24,000. Apart from the fact that that is a small amount nowadays, it’s coming from so many people at $300 (assuming that half the cost of the meal is the cost of putting it on in the first place, and Claudelands would have to be rented) and only a fool would try to buy an MP’s favour for that.

    All-weather racecourses ? You cannot be serious.

    I used to see ‘paard’ for sale in Belgian supermarkets. It looked horrible; a dark red with very yellow fat. That’s what made me look the first time….and then I saw the label.
    Paard ??? Ugh ! that’s horsemeat !!!

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  September 2, 2018

      I tried to find the cost of hiring Claudelands, and couldn’t, but the costs of insurance, clearing and washing up and other costs (they list what needs to be done) wouldn’t leave very much by way of profit, I would guess. I had no idea of what was involved.

    • David

       /  September 2, 2018

      No one minds a party fundraiser but Peters is nakedly using his position to do favours for people who support his party financially. The restructure of the racing industry may well be a good thing and the right thing but he has linked our taxpayer largese to privately funding his party.

      • Blazer

         /  September 2, 2018

        ‘ Peters is nakedly using his position to do favours for people who support his party financially’

        heve you heard about the y who’s a great fundraiser for…!!!

  4. artcroft

     /  September 2, 2018

    The Greens have already put the “For sale sign” up beside their principles. But they’re so incompetent Winnie didn’t have to make an offer before they gave themselves to him.