Funding of Labour’s intern scheme

Labour still have questions to answer about why they have deceived and not been upfront about the degree of their involvement in the intern scheme fiasco.

Andrew Little and general secretary Andrew Kirton seem to have tried to play down the degree of party involvement but the whole thing has had Labour written all over it.

Newshub has obtained documents showing funding plans – Union money behind Labour’s botched intern scheme

Newshub has obtained internal documents outlining Labour’s ambitious plans to put foreign students to work on its campaign.

The plan shows the party needed to find $270,000 in funding to pull it off and was banking on unions to fund a lot of it.

The budgeting was based on 100 students staying for an average of eight weeks.

Yesterday Matt McCarten stated “The programme was extremely popular and quickly became oversubscribed. The scale of the programme is now greater than I can manage, and I am aware of issues that this has caused.”

It was reported there were about 85 interns, less than that budgeted for.

The documents show First and Unite unions agreed to contribute $100,000, “white collar unions” – likely the likes of the PSA – committed to $50,000, while Union Trust put up a start-up loan of $25,000.

Would this have been declared in Labour’s donation returns?

The plan was to get E tū and “other appropriate unions” on board too.

The Council of Trade Unions was also to be involved in management of the project, and while Labour has been distancing itself from the project, the documents explicitly states: “The programme and certification is the responsibility of Labour.”

It was clearly a Labour plan.

A less expensive plan was also outlined, in which half of the students would be billeted.

The cost of that came in at $148,000 plus operational costs. It would have required less of a fundraising drive, but still relied on union funding.

The scheme was already under way, there must have been some funds raised and used.

On Thursday, Labour leader Andrew Little fronted up about the party’s intern scheme which got “wildly out of control”.

So it must have been poorly managed.

“I have to say it is embarrassing for the party, of course it is,” he conceded.

“I am disappointed that they’ve been let down, but right now the priority is to fix that up, look after them, make sure they’re okay and work out what do from there.”

One priority is for Little to be up front about Labour’s involvement, and his knowledge of it. And Andrew Kirton.

For such a large and elaborate scheme with Labour labels everywhere the party leadership and party management must have been well aware of it. They surely must have approved it.

Some questions that deserve answers:

Have any Labour people worked on the intern scheme while being paid by Parliamentary Services?

Has Labour breached the Electoral Act by not having authorisation statements on the scheme’s Facebook page and Twitter account? Both seem to have now been pulled, but they had no sign authorisation statements.

One question that has been answered emphatically is McCarten’s campaign skills. Appalling.

Update: Andrew Kirton is being interviewed on RNZ.

He said he first knew about the project in April. Espiner is challenging him on that.

Kirton says he hasn’t seen the document until it was just published by Newshub.

Kirton is in evasion overdrive, trying to dump everything on McCarten.

Kirton says that “it was Matt’s programme that he took over when he left the party”.  So it was already a Labour party project.

He keeps diverting to ‘as soon as we were aware of the problems we stepped in to sort things out”.

Asked if the spending was going to be counted in their election  spending he said the hadn’t thought about that. Remarkable.

Kirton’s responses in that interview need a lot more scrutiny.

Intern schemes using international activists are common.

Trying to pretend a scheme has nothing to do with Labour is crazy.

McCarten, Kirton and Little all have to take responsibility for this mess.