Ross not standing in Botany

Jami-Lee Ross has said he will not stand in the Botany election, saying he is confident of Advance NZ co-leader Billy Te Kahika winning the Te Tai Tokerau electorate (off Labour deputy leader Kelvin Davis) and also confident of making the 5% threshold.

Davis (12,673 votes) beat Hone Harawira (7,866 votes) in Te Tai Tokerau in the 2017 election. While Te Kahika has built a significant following with thousands attending a protest he fronted in the weekend that is a long way from a majority in one electorate.

The composite party would probably need to get 140,000+ votes to make the 5% threshold, which is a very high hurdle for any small party let alone one with no history.

Times Online: Jami-Lee Ross not contesting Botany seat

Independent MP Jami-Lee Ross is not contesting the Botany seat in the General Election in October.

The former National front bencher who fell out spectacularly with his party and the former National Party leader Simon Bridges and is also facing Serious Fraud Office charges, told the Times he will go on Advance NZ’s party list. He is also confident Advance NZ co-leader Billy Te Kahika will win the Maori seat which would ensure they get into parliament.

Advance NZ has merged with several smaller parties which Ross likened to the successful approach adopted by Jim Anderton.

“We’re modelling it off the Alliance Party of the 1990s …several smaller parties came together as one bigger party so that they had more of an opportunity to campaign and reach parliament and they did ultimately reach parliament so that’s the model that we’re working on,” Ross said.

“It became pretty apparent that I had to make a decision – do I run a nationwide campaign? I’m effectively doing that, I’m running a campaign, I’m assisting in training and selecting and recruiting candidates.

“I’m working very closely with Billy Te Kahika (leader of the NZ Public Party, Advance NZ co-leader with Ross and Te Tai Tokerau candidate) who is a political novice but is making big inroads into things and I wouldn’t be able to do that and also give the required time necessary to run for election properly here in Botany.”

Ross said feedback he was getting suggested it would be three-way race for the Botany seat “because National’s considerably lower, Labour’s considerably higher, I’ve got a profile in Botany too so it wasn’t a foregone conclusion for anyone”.

I think if Ross actually thought he had a chance of winning Botany he wouldn’t pull out. This looks like him conceding he has no show.

“I had to make a call as to whether I could dedicate the time required to run for election in Botany properly. My strength of campaigning is also door-knocking face-to-face but you can’t do that during Covid so that’s been an interruption.”

He has been successful as a National candidate, but that was in a safe national electorate. His weakness now of face to face campaigning this election is that he has disgraced himself politically and personally.

“But in terms of contribution towards the country and the political party, I came to the view that my skills in terms of politics and campaigning were best suited to getting a new vehicle into parliament and working hard to ensure that a new political party (could get) a foothold and building off the profile and building off the following that the NZ Public Party and Advance NZ are starting to see now.”

Ross was getting nowhere with his own party so is tagging on to the cult-like popularity of Te Kahika.

Ross’ organising experience he gained when with National will help, but he is unlikely to attract many votes himself. He is really trying to enable Te Kahika.

“I know that many in the media, certainly down in parliament, write us off but on the ground, I’ve never seen a political party grow as fast as it has,” he said.

The party/parties have grown out of nothing very quickly, but that’s a long way from winning a seat or making the threshold.

“I’ve never seen the reach on social media like we’ve got in the last month. We reached 2 million people. In the last week we reached 1m people. Of course that’s not going to turn into votes entirely but that suggests to you the public are opening their eyes up to something new and something different.”

I don’t know where he gets those numbers from, but on their own they don’t mean much. I’ve been ‘reached’ on social media by several parties (not Advance NZ) but won’t be voting for more than one of them, and maybe none of them.

Ross also reckons Te Kahika could roll Kelvin Davis, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, out of the Te Tai Tokerau seat in October.

“He’s (Te Kahika) has a very good shot at winning that seat, taking it off Kelvin Davis who hasn’t really delivered anything for that area.”

It would be unprecedented in modern new politics if Te Kahika won an electorate. It’s possible, bu I think highly improbable.

It’s normal for politicians to talk up their chances to try to generate support. Many don’t come close to matching their claims.

Advance NZ – and its alliance comprising NZ Public Party, the Direct Democracy Party, the NZ People’s Party and a party called Reset New Zealand – will deliver an offering Kiwis want, said Ross.

“This movement and this party is growing so fast that I wouldn’t be surprised if we got to 5 per cent in any case. There’s a gap in the market where New Zealanders are looking for an alternative strategy to Covid-19.

Most people support what the Government has done on Covid. Some don’t, but they won’t all support a party promoting a range of conspiracy theories.

“The virus isn’t killing anywhere near as many people as we were told it would right at the start. That’s the case around the world.

That’s a nonsense claim. Models suggested possible death levels if nothing was done to restrict Covid, but I don’t know of any country did nothing. And all models I have seen show ranges of possibilities.

If New Zealand hadn’t locked down we would certainly have had far more deaths, as would have happened in many other countries.

As a country we need to learn to live with the virus. No other political party is offering a more risk-based balanced approach and so I think there’s New Zealanders opening their eyes up to that idea and that strategy so that’s where the party offers a point of difference.”

It’s ridiculous claiming Te Kahika represents “a more risk-based balanced approach”.

“We’re going to go to the election with 60 candidates, 7000 members which I’d argue is going to be bigger than other parties except maybe Labour and National.

“We’ve got tens of thousands of people who we’re reaching on social media who are volunteering as well and Billy Te Kahika is a unique phenomenon in politics and inspiring so many people. Sure, his opponents are writing him off calling him all sorts of names but what you’re seeing is someone who’s tapping into dissatisfaction with a large range of voters.”

If correct those are impressive numbers for a new party, but they are a long way from election success.

“Organisations like the World Health Organization are now telling us we need to learn to live with the virus. It’s time to be heard on a new strategy.”

It is blatant bullshit to imply that the Advance NZ approach to dealing with Covid aligns with WHO advice.

WHO have advice that is applicable to Te Kahika and Advance NZ – Mythbusters, which includes 5G Mobile networks.

Even if Advance NZ perform an electoral miracle and make it into Parliament I’m fairly sure Labour will have nothing to do with their nuttery in Government.


UPDATE: David Farrar comments on the Ross claim that Botany was a a three way race:

In no way was it a three way race. In a poll done by Curia in August 2020, Jami-Lee Ross was at 1.8%. And no that is not a typo – 1.8% not 18%.

Advance party to where?

The Advance Party may be the opposite of an advance in New Zealand politics. Their main aim seems to be to advance as many crazy conspiracy theories as possible.

But they have attracted thousands of followers, as evidenced by an anti-Covid rally in Auckland yesterday, which defied the level 2.5 restrictions currently in place in Auckland.

RNZ: Advance Party and crowd rallies against Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns

A crowd of a few thousand packed in Auckland’s Aotea Square this afternoon, at the “National Rally for Freedom”, organised by Advance Party co-leaders, Jami Lee Ross and Billy Te Kahika.

There was little social distancing and few people in the crowd wearing masks.

When the rally was finished, the large group continued its protest down Auckland’s Queen Street before returning to Aotea Square.

There were a number of police present at the rally; they refused to comment when approached by RNZ and asked whether there were any concerns about social distancing given the size of the crowd.

In a statement to RNZ later, police said with today’s event it was “possible that attempts to enforce Alert Level restrictions would have caused tension in an otherwise peaceful protest, without being effective in managing physical distancing of participants”.

That pretty much gives any protesters a green light to do what they like regardless of lockdown laws and rules.

It is disgraceful that a current Member of Parliament be blatantly behind breaking the law, but Ross has disgraced himself a number of times already so this is just another step downwards for him. His chances of being re-elected in Botany are miniscule so he seems to be hoping Te Kahika’s popularity will get him back into Parliament.

But how popular? Several thousand at a rally is a significant number, and there will be more supporters around the country, but they would need somewhere around 150,000 votes to make the 5% threshold (last election ACT got 13,075 votes for just 0.5% and Greens got 162,443 votes for 6.27%).

Even if they made history and the threshold, their influence in Parliament would likely be small. Labour would be extremely unlikely to do a coalition or confidence and supply deal with Advance NZ, and Advance NZ would be hugely hypocritical to even attempt to work with Labour.

Somme of their prominent COVID-19 Response Policy but it is laced with highly questionable claims. Their opening paragraph:

The COVID-19 virus has led nations around the world to take radical action to prevent its spread. In New Zealand, the Labour government has adopted an approach of eradication at any cost. That strategy has failed.

They are basically saying that “nations around the world” are wrong and they are right with untested claims.

The approach here hasn’t been “at any cost”, and it has been relatively successful both health-wise and economically so far.

In the false hope of eradicating the virus, we now face Labour’s Second Wave of Lockdowns. There is no end in sight for the current lockdown or for ending COVID-19 restrictions at lower levels. Labour’s plan is for years of rolling lockdowns.

I haven’t seen Labour state anything like that. Most countries including New Zealand are hoping that a vaccine will be available in the next year or so.

As new information is learned about COVID-19, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the fatality rate of the virus is considerably lower than first predicted. In the early stages of COVID-19 entering New Zealand, fear spread with many believing mass deaths would take place.

First predictions were widely variable based on limited information and based on a range of approaches.

Predictions where that doing nothing to limit Covid, as Advance NZ seem to be promoting, would likely

Initial predictions of death have not materialised around the world, and COVID-19’s  case fatality rate is not unlike that of seasonal influenza. Flu or colds have never been eradicated, and attempts to do so have proved futile. The WHO and GAVI are predicting a similar situation for COVID-19, and it looks like we will have to learn to live with it and find ways to protect our most vulnerable without shutting down society.  (https://www.gavi.org/vaccineswork/could-covid-19-ever-be-eradicated)

That’s an odd claim considering what is prominent on the gavi.org home page:

#VaccinesWork

Vaccines are one of the most successful and cost-effective health investments in history with wider benefits that accrue across a lifetime.

Keep informed about the latest topics in global health, including top stories related to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Also from Gavi: How COVID–19 is leading to famine and a ‘hunger pandemic’

COVID-19 has infected more than 27 million people, killing nearly 900,000 of them. As well as this devastating impact on people’s lives and health, there has been significant collateral damage from the pandemic – especially hunger and malnutrition, putting the lives of millions more at risk.

10 September 2020

That seems to be the opposite of what Advance NZ claim and promote. They also claim:

The reasonable question to ask now is – what long -term economic, social, and health costs will New Zealanders face…

That is a reasonable question to ask….

…in a futile effort to eradicate COVID-19 – a virus we now know we can manage as a nation without losing considerable freedoms?

…but it is followed by a claim that they can’t know. They don’t cite any examples anywhere in the world where Covid has been managed without losing any freedoms.

From their Policy in Brief:

Implement a risk-based approach where vulnerable citizens are protected and supported, but all others are free to continue daily life.

By segregating ‘vulnerable citizens’ from ‘all others’? That doesn’t sound like freedom for either group.

Their website tries to sound reasonable and considered but is littered with highly questionable claims and has major flaws in thinking.

Advance NZ is unlikely to make the MMP cut, and even if they did they would unlikely have much if any influence on policy.

But by promoting defiance of lockdown rules they are actually putting the rest of us at risk of more spread of Covid, and more lockdowns.

High Court bars Jami-Lee Ross from publishing SFO documents

Ex National and now Independent MP Jami-Lee Ross, who is being prosecuted by the Serious Fraud Office over donations made to National that Ross went public about to try to damage National, has now been barred from publishing documents provided to him by the SFO as part of the prosecution proceedings.

RNZ: High Court blocks Jami-Lee Ross from publishing sensitive documents

The SFO said the material was sent to all the defendants as part of its disclosure obligations and Ross then expressed an interest in publishing it.

“The agency believes any publication of the material would have breached the SFO’s secrecy provisions and been contrary to requirements of confidentiality applying to the use of material obtained through court proceedings.

“However, the SFO sought a court order to ensure there was no doubt that the material remained confidential,” the agency said in a statement.

Ross said he had no intention of breaching people’s privacy but wanted to expose the nature of the documents.

After his attempt to expose National backfired on him badly Ross should have been cautious about publicising court documents.

Perhaps he thought that any publicity was good publicity heading into an election he looks likely to lose.

It is more common for politicians to insist on their own silence on matters ‘before the courts’.

Ross maintained that he was a whistleblower, but the SFO seems to think differently.

In February Ross made a statement to the court that there was “No basis for such a concern” that Ross ” may make a statement to Parliament regarding the matter”.

RNZ – National Party donations case: Jami-Lee Ross named as suppressions lifted

Former National MP, and now independent, Jami-Lee Ross, has been named today as one of the four people facing Serious Fraud Office (SFO) charges in relation to two $100,000 donations made to the National Party.

Today the application filed for Ross said he “has not and does not seek interim name suppression and is happy if such orders are discharged or lapse”.

His application also said the other three had applied to have name suppression lifted “due to an apparent concern that Mr Ross, as a sitting Member of Parliament may make a statement to Parliament regarding the matter”.

“No basis for such a concern has been provided, and there is none,” it said.

“Parliament has been sitting for a week. During that time, Mr Ross has at no time indicated an intention to make a statement in Parliament or to the public regarding this matter in breach of the current orders, nor has he done so. He has complied fully with the interim orders, notwithstanding these were never sought by him.”

But a week ago Ross did want to reveal details in Parliament.

NZ Herald: National’s President Peter Goodfellow addresses threats from Jami-Lee Ross to release leaked donor info

National’s president is playing down threats by ex-National MP Jami-Lee Ross to make public the party’s 2017 donation records in the House tomorrow.

On Sunday, the sitting Botany MP claimed to have been leaked National’s 2017 donor list…

He said he planned to table evidence of this in Parliament before Parliament adjourns for the campaign period.

Ross told the Herald that at this stage, he planned to table the documents during tomorrow’s general debate in the House.

He must have been blocked from tabling the documents.

And it doesn’t seem a coincidence that the SFO has obtained a bar on releasing documents – are these the same documents that Ross claimed were ‘leaked’?

Stuff: Serious Fraud Office accidentally leaked document to Jami-Lee Ross

On Thursday, the SFO welcomed a court decision confirming the confidentiality of material that was inadvertently disclosed by the agency to the defendants.

The material was disclosed during the course of the agency’s compliance with its normal disclosure obligations.

In a statement by the SFO on Thursday, it said it had acted with an abundance of care in seeking the court order as one of the parties had reportedly expressed an interest in publishing the material.

“The agency believes that any publication of the material would have breached the SFO’s secrecy provisions and been contrary to requirements of confidentiality applying to the use of material obtained through court proceedings.”

The SFO then sought a court order to ensure there was no doubt that the material remained confidential.

This doesn’t sound like a leak to me, despite their headline Stuff reports “inadvertently disclosed” and “the material was disclosed during the course of the agency’s compliance with its normal disclosure obligations”.

The fringe popularity of Bill Te Kahika

It seemed a bit odd that when Jami-Lee Ross joined his party with a virtually unknown fringe party and conceded leadership to a dude called Bill Te Kahika, but it turns out that Te Kahika is a lot more popular than Ross (this shouldn’t really be a surprise given the place Ross is in).

The allied parties aren’t likely to get close to the 5% threshold (the threshold imposed by large parties is one of MP’s biggest flaws), and there seems to be close to no chance of Ross retaining the Botany electorate, but could Te Kahika shake up the Te Tai Tokerau electorate?

If he and maybe one or two others made it into Parliament I don’t think there’s any chance either Labour or National would do any sort of governing deal with them (which would allow them to hold the balance of power), but they would be an interesting addition to the mix in Parliament.

Charlie Mitchell (Stuff): The conspiracists’ election: How the farthest fringes of politics are making a play for the centre

Billy Te Kahika is nearly 40 minutes into a two-hour monologue, delivered like a sermon and streamed live on his personal Facebook page.

It is May 17, shortly after New Zealand entered alert level two restrictions. Te Kahika, a 47-year-old businessman and musician, is sitting at a table at his home in Northland, with a pile of hand-written notes scattered in front of him.

Over the course of the video, Te Kahika lays out a theory. It interweaves the Hegelian dialectic, the origins of communism and fascism, satanism, geoengineering, and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic into a sinister global plot to control the population.

To me some of their policies are crazy, but if they get enough votes they will have deserved representation.

Te Kahika is even-tempered and eloquent. He speaks calmly, sprinkling te reo into his speech. He often interrupts himself to say what he’s talking about is not a conspiracy, but a fact.

It came out of leftfield. Before the pandemic, Te Kahika’s Facebook page was free of politics. It primarily documented his career as a guitarist, following in the footsteps of his father, the pioneering musician Billy TK.

His posts started to become politically tinged in late March, in the early days of level four restrictions. Like everyone else, Te Kahika was in self-isolation with his family, which meant he had his days free to research issues online.

Much of this research veered towards fringe ideas, circulated on Facebook and YouTube. His political posts became regular, and increasingly incorporated information from the emerging ecosystem of conspiracy theories related to the pandemic, typically centring on unsubstantiated or outright false claims.

It culminated in his live broadcast, which merged these ideas into a unified theory: That the pandemic had been planned, and the New Zealand Government was at the forefront of a global push to enslave the population.

The video was intended for his Facebook friends, but it spread much wider. Within a week, it had been seen nearly 30,000 times. In the days afterward, Te Kahika continued his live broadcasts, which drew thousands of views each.

In modern politics you have to be outlandish to get noticed. Attempts at starting up moderate modest parties get ignored.

Three weeks after his first video, Te Kahika launched the New Zealand Public Party (NZPP) at Auckland’s Akarana Yacht Club. From there, he took his theory on the road – At an event in Christchurch on July 11, a month to the day after he announced the party, Te Kahika drew a raucous crowd of 500 in Christchurch. A few days earlier, he had spoken to a similarly-sized crowd in Tauranga.

He leveraged his growing influence in conspiracy theory circles internationally, with a long-form interview with Pete Evans, the Australian chef and conspiracy theorist. Perhaps the world’s most notorious conspiracy theorist, David Icke, has shared Te Kahika’s content on social media.

Just seven weeks after it started, the party launched its campaign at the Logan Campbell Centre in Auckland. Thousands of people cheered for Billy Te Kahika, and the hope that he represented. By merging with Advance NZ, the political vehicle for Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross, the NZPP could officially contest the upcoming election (the party had formed too late to officially register).

“The momentum that we’ve got now… New Zealand politics hasn’t seen anything like it, and that’s a fact,” Te Kahika told Stuff this week.

The party’s Facebook page, not yet two months old, already has 20,000 followers, more than the ACT party, which has been online for nine years. Content on the NZPP’s Facebook page is getting engagement levels similar to that of the National Party.

Like them or not they are likely to play a significant part in the election. At least they seem to have popular support that isn’t bought by big money backed parties such as the Colin Craig, Kim Dotcom and Gareth Morgan parties.

With the fading away of small parties in Parliament there was always going to be opportunities for someone with social media savvy to make a bit of a mark.

The stuff article has a detailed look at their policies and conspiracies and their chances.

Sarah Dowie – valedictory swipe at media

Sarah Dowie mostly kept out of the spotlight as National MP for Invercargill since 2014, until it was revealed that she had had an affair with Jami-Lee Ross and had sent him a controversial text.

From Wikipedia:

On 25 January 2019, Dowie was revealed as the MP who had an affair with fellow MP Jami-Lee Ross. Ross had disclosed this in October 2018, but the news media chose not to name her at the time. After it was learned that a police investigation had been launched into a text message allegedly sent by Dowie to Ross, media revealed her identity.

However, the police decided that no further action was needed

In 2019 Dowie was re-selected by National in Invercargill unopposed, but in February 2020 announced her decision not to stand for re-election.

Dowie addressed her treatment by the media in her valedictory speech.

According to the more experienced politician, everyone has an annus horribilis. Mine hit full peak in January 2019, and I didn’t think my personal life was too out of the ordinary until my name scrolled across The AM Show‘s newsreel, bumping Brexit as the lead story. While it’s clear I had made some poor choices, the fact that a press gallery reporter was live providing analysis brought the whole sorry affair to a new level. In my eyes, it can only be described as comical. She was maniacal, could hardly get her words out, and she didn’t have the nous to work out the difference between a complaint, investigation, charge, and proceedings. What followed was worse: a litany of diatribe from even the so-called reputable outlets. At best, some comments could be called wide of the mark. Others were just downright lies. In hindsight, I question whether I should have sued some publications.

One article claimed I ran on family values in 2014. I absolutely did not. The journalist wrote that story without seeking confirmation of facts. It’s irresponsible, lazy, and just downright wrong. A subsequent article on the Politik website suggested I only got promoted because of my alliances—nothing about me holding a law or science degree, having practised and worked for the Department of Conservation. One other paper said I’m not a conservation naive, but for some reason, in 2019, my qualifications and experience were overlooked in favour of the salacious. These stories made taking the high road a very bitter pill to swallow. Nevertheless, I rose above it, continued to front and show up to work.

Compared with recent events where media analysis lasted only a couple of news cycles, the speculation and rubbish continued for me for weeks on end. One woman said to me recently, “Sarah, you were absolutely trashed in the media in 2019, and yet these other MPs experience a couple of media cycles of scrutiny and hide behind mental health issues for their bad behaviour.” The antithesis is the hypocrisy of the media calling for a clean up of politicians. Yes, we are representatives and should take responsibility for poor behaviour, but we are not elected as angels. We too are human and make mistakes, just as journalists do and have. But when a predator is able to manipulate the media for his agenda and the media is directly party to it, it is the media fraternity that needs to audit themselves as to their ethics and their conscious peddling of sexism and patriarchy. If it takes me to be New Zealand’s scarlet woman to highlight this, then so be it.

New Zealand has a long way to go with how we view women. Successive Governments have been concerned with eliminating all forms of violence against women. Violence does not stop at the physical and sexual, and from what I’ve seen and experienced, it seems that unless a woman loses her life, they are afforded very little sympathy for situations or circumstances they find themselves in—ones in which they can’t control.

It’s that underlying patriarchal view that persists in New Zealand that stimulates this. “She shouldn’t have been travelling alone.” “She shouldn’t have led him on.” “She should have seen the signs earlier.” “She should not have been wearing that skirt.” What about: “No, she deserves justice and an environment where she feels safe to report abuse.

What is surprising and deeply disappointing to me is that in some cases these views are held by women who can be most vicious in their criticisms. You cannot legislate for a women’s code, but policy can re-educate. We should encourage everyone to encourage women to contribute to our communities, and we should build a society that enables our daughters to achieve all their hopes and dreams and to do so without judgment or guilt.

Therefore, I am not unchanged from the experience of being an MP. People often say to me, “Why on earth would you want to be an MP?” referring to the endless criticisms—some fair, some not; the hours of work; the arduous travel schedule; endless days away from family and your home; and, even when you are at home or off the clock, eagerly watching for media alerts. Being an MP is all consuming; it’s not like normal employment where you get to switch off at the end of the day.

Her parliamentary experience was not all bad.

But we do not walk alone. We seek out a pack for camaraderie and support, and I have been so fortunate during my lifetime in politics to meet some of the very best men and women in New Zealand, to call them my friends, and I will be eternally thankful for their care. In particular, I mention four colleagues who came in with me in 2014.

We have spent countless days and nights in each other’s company, experiencing the highs and lows of Parliament and life. Brett Hudson, Stuart Smith, Matt Doocey, and Todd Barclay. We are the self-proclaimed breakfast club of misfits, acutely comfortable in our own skin, never actively seeking limelight—[Member hands Dowie a box of tissues] Thank you—but quietly going about our jobs, doing them well and with skill. That shouldn’t be underestimated or underrated.

I thank them from the bottom of my heart for being there in the dark times, for taking me under their wings like a sister and protecting me. I also thank you for the endless laughter and gibes and the ability not to take ourselves too seriously. These friendships are what restore my trust and faith in people. To the class of ’14, a family of alphas, each in our own niche, yet a group that has fitted together like a jigsaw and now withstood two terms without any falling outs, you are talented, kind, and compassionate, and I value each and every one of you.

She concluded:

In conclusion, I refer to the lines of The Breakfast Club, and I tailor them for the context of Parliament.

Dear media, we accept that we had to sacrifice part of our lives in your scrutiny for whatever it is we did wrong, but we MPs think you are crazy to make us write a valedictory telling us who you think we are. You see us how you want to see us—in the simplest terms, the most convenient definitions. But what each of us found out is that one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal. Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, the breakfast club.

Media have a very important job to do in a democracy, but they would do well to reflect on their own behaviour at times, when they relentlessly pursue MPs in order to make their own headlines.

Jami-Lee Ross – valedictory interview

Jami-Lee Ross gave what may have been effectively a valedictory interview with RNZ yesterday. He has effectively conceded his proposed Advance NZ party is struggling by joining with a conspiracy based party .

He very slim chances of being re-elected must now be even more unlikely.

Ross was selected as a candidate for the safe National electorate of Botany in 2011 and gradually rose through the ranks the become senior Whip in 2017, and was re-elected then with a majority of 12,839 votes.

But a year later, in October 2018 his political career crashed and burned. Ross turned on National and became an independent MP. Allegations were made by MP Sarah Dowie and by electorate staff that Ross had bullied them.

Last year the serious Fraud office announced that Ross was one of four people being investigated for donation fraud, and he was charged in January this year (the trial won’t be until next year).

There’s a summary here.

His problems have continued as an independent MP.

February 2020 (Newsroom): New allegations surround MP Jami-Lee Ross and Ross’ ‘toxic’ office problems raised in June

21 July 2020: ‘Go back into a room with a predator? No thank you’

Despite this Ross has been working towards trying to get re-elected – May 2020 (1 News): Jami-Lee Ross announces own political party for 2020 election

Mr Ross announced Advance NZ in a Facebook post last night, saying it’ll focus on the freedom and sovereignty of New Zealanders and creating a new economic plan to get Kiwis through a post Covid-19 world.

Advance NZ wants to see a democratic country that has brave voices in the middle that speak truth to power. People that stand up for freedom, sovereignty and independence.”

26 July (The Spinoff): Jami-Lee Ross, Billy Te Kahika and the rebel alliance of Election 2020

Can the conspiracy theories of social media be coalesced into a party that makes parliament under MMP?

It hardly needs saying that the views of Te Kahika – and evidently shared by the crowd – go against official scientific advice. In fact, it might even be fair to say that they don’t believe official scientific advice precisely because of who the messengers are. They have no trust in the government, international institutions like the World Health Organisation or the United Nations, or billionaire philanthropists like Bill Gates.

There were attacks on Dr Ashley Bloomfield, who had spent time at the WHO. “Anyone who does any length of time at an organisation like that is going to be fully indoctrinated.” There were enthusiastic boos for the “fully groomed globalist” Jacinda Ardern. “Her story speaks like the perfect history of a prime minister who will betray our people.”

It was Agenda 21. It was anti-vaxxing. It was 5G. It was people being forced out of the provinces to live in “technocratic high-rise cities”. It was all on the way, said Te Kahika, and he was the only one who could

…But for the people who turned out, it had been a thrilling day, and they left upbeat. They had come from all parts of the North Island. And over the next weeks, they’ll take that message out far and wide, and in the process probably reach people totally unreachable by other forms of politics and messaging. The results of that could be unlike anything New Zealand has ever seen before.

RNZ: Jami-Lee Ross launches Advance New Zealand party

Former National MP Jami-Lee Ross has merged his Advance New Zealand party with the Public Party, in the hope its leader will win the seat of Te Tai Tokerau.

That looks like Ross is conceding he has no hope of retaining his Botany seat, and probably also indicates he has been unable to get the 500 members required to register a party.

The Botany MP will co-lead the new party with Billy Te Kahika, who will stand in Te Tai Tokerau.

But there must be close to no chance of Te Kahika winning Te Tai Tokerau.

If he wins it, Ross would make it back into Parliament as a list MP under the coat-tail rule, even if he lost Botany.

Ross said Advance New Zealand would suspend the free trade agreement between New Zealand and China within its first three months and would support Hong Kong and Taiwan in seeking independence.

So a politically toxic MP facing SFO charges who has failed to get a credible party going has joined with a party with even less credibility, best known for it’s support of conspiracy theories, including that Covid-19 is a world order plot.

In what may be virtually a farewell interview yesterday Ross kept refusing to distance himself from the Covid conspiracy.

Ross: “I think there are New Zealanders out there who feel we have lost a lot of rights and freedoms to this Covid-19 issue and there’s questions that are being asked.”

Dann: “But do you believe that it is a bioweapon, man-made, being used against people?”

Ross: “Covid-19 is a real virus and it is impacting people around the world. We have in the situation in New Zealand that we no longer have that virus.”

Dann: “Is it a man-made virus that is being used as a bioweapon to undermine our democracy? I just want an answer on that question.”

Ross: “Covid-19 is a virus that has been in New Zealand and we have lost a lot of rights.”

Dann: “Sure, but why would you align your party with someone who believes in, frankly, ridiculous conspiracy theories which are an insult to those who are working on the front lines dealing with Covid-19, to the families who have people dying – why would you align yourself with that?”

Ross: “I think its insulting to say that New Zealanders who care about rights and freedoms shouldn’t be listened to or be taken seriously at all. There are people out there who believe that we have lost a lot of rights and freedoms, who believe that our sovereignty over many many years has been eroded.”

Dann: “You’re happy to lend your name – as someone who was the chief whip of National Party – to the Public Party and its policies, be it their scepticism around 5G, 1080, fluoridation, anti-vaxxers – you’re happy to lend your name to that?”

Ross: “When you have been involved in one of those big political parties you see how much of a cult they are and you see how much of a big problem just blindly following what the big political parties are. There’s an opportunity for small parties unite together and challenge the status quo. That’s what this alliance is about… I think there’s going to be some real momentum here.”

Full transcript and audio: Jami-Lee Ross faces Covid-19, China questions after new Advance NZ party alliance

But the chances of joining forces with other small parties doesn’t look great.

From The Spinoff Bulletin:

A quick point about the ‘alliance’ nature of the Advance NZ/NZ Public Party merger: On stage yesterday, Ross reeled off a long string of parties outside parliament, saying they’d still be welcome to join up.

Since then, people in the leadership teams of the Opportunities Party, Outdoors Party, New Conservative and Social Credit (the largest four parties listed by Ross) have all confirmed to me that they’ll be doing nothing of the sort.

Ross and his new party alliance may get a few supporters online but they are likely to need a lot more than that to come anywhere near close to getting into Parliament.

Jami-Lee Ross proposes new party

Jami-Lee Ross, the independent (ex National) MP for Botany, is proposing a new political party called Advance New Zealand,  but plans can’t be very advanced because most domain name variations are still available. I don’t think speculating would be a profitable exercise.

NZ Herald: Former National MP Jami-Lee Ross is forming his own political party – Advance New Zealand

…Jami-Lee Ross is starting his own political party ahead of this year’s election and is calling it Advance New Zealand.

In one of his semi-regular newsletters, Ross last night asked his supporters if they would join with him in starting a “new political movement”.

“I want to see a democratic country that has brave voices in the middle that speak truth to power”.

Ross is hoping a new political party which he leads will help return him to Parliament.

Sounds very self-interested and undemocratic.

Our democracy no longer represents middle of the road average Kiwis – there are two blocs of parties with a handful of minor parties subservient to their big brother and sister.”

He said none of the established political parties have been prepared to speak out against the new risks the country is facing from the Chinese Communist Party.

“We are about to feel the economic effects of aligning ourselves so closely to China.”

And he thinks that his previous political experience will give him the edge.

“No new party has made it to Parliament without a current or former MP leading it.”

Although Advance New Zealand has not officially launched yet, he’s sounded out his supporters to gauge their perspective.

From my perspective any new party has huge hurdles to overcome, like getting 500 members, getting funds and getting credibility. Ross is unlikely to attract popular support outside Botany, and inside Botany could also be a challenge.

Last election Ross won Botany with a 12,839 vote minority, but he got a similar number of electorate votes as National got party votes.  Ross first won Botany in a by-election in 2011.

Jami-Lee Ross claims National received foreign donations

In Parliament yesterday Independent MPs Jami-Lee Ross claimed that he had information showing that up to $150,000 dollars in donations paid to the National party had come via conduits from China. He said that he wasn’t aware of this when he was a National MP (and senior whip), and the party probably wasn’t aware of the source of the donations either. He called on National to pay the donations back.

Ross appears to have got the information from the Serious Fraud Office, so it is probable he has his own legal defence in mind in how he has worded his claims.

Before making the claims in a speech in Parliament Ross appeared to collude with Winston Peters in Question Time, in questions directed at Peters as the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Question No. 4—Foreign Affairs

4. JAMI-LEE ROSS (MP—Botany) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: Has he received any reports of foreign interference activities in New Zealand from foreign State actors of the type described by Canterbury University Professor Anne-Marie Brady in her paper “Magic Weapons” as united front work carried out by the Chinese Communist Party; if so, what efforts is the Government making to protect New Zealand’s interests?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Minister of Foreign Affairs): Foreign interference is not a new threat and New Zealand isn’t immune to such attempts. Yes, I have seen reports to that effect, but I can’t discuss specific countries, operational details, targets or methods, or systems of surveillance. But I can assure the member that this Government takes the threat very seriously and has robust measures in place to protect our democratic values, institutions, and our economy.

Jami-Lee Ross: Does he share the concerns of Professor Brady that foreign State actors make efforts to “control diaspora communities, to utilise them as agents of foreign policy, suppress any hints of dissidents as well.”, and if so, what resilience strategy will New Zealand implement to protect against this foreign interference?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Can I tell that member we do share a series of concerns. If that member or, indeed, any member of the public has information that relates to foreign interference from any country, they should report it to the relevant authorities. This is a serious issue that this Government is dedicated to addressing, and appropriate processes should be followed. But let me say this: this is the first time in New Zealand’s history that a political party has announced its candidate list in China, and you have to ask yourself why.

Jami-Lee Ross: Does he share the view of SIS director Rebecca Kitteridge that one vector of foreign interference in elections is “Building covert influence and leverage, including through electoral financing;”, and if so, what advice does he have for New Zealanders concerned about this foreign interference?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: The member will, I’m sure, appreciate the fact that we cannot single out any one specific country. The important thing is that we have flexible and adequate mechanisms, we believe, in place to protect our democratic values, institutions, and the economy. The witness and evidence that he has recited in his question is some testimony to that, but the reality is we have open channels to raise issues with countries if and when we ever need to do so. But it behoves political parties not to be undermining this Government’s serious purpose to protect our democratic institutions.

Both Ross and Peters have demonstrated having obvious grudges against National leader Simon Bridges and the National Party, so that context could be important.

Ross, Peters and NZ First have had links to and have been promoted by the Whale Oil and The BFD blogs and Cameron Slater et al.

From the Debate on Prime Minister’s Statement following Question Time:

JAMI-LEE ROSS (Botany):

…In the Prime Minister’s statement, that we are debating, the Prime Minister lists as one of her Government’s achievements the banning of foreign political donations. It’s true that the new $50 threshold for overseas donations is an improvement. But, as I’ve said previously in the House, I doubt it will do very little to deter those determined to find other ways around the ban, including—

SPEAKER: Order! Mr Jackson leave the House.

JAMI-LEE ROSS: —using the wide open gap we still have where foreign State actors can funnel funds through New Zealand registered companies.

The foreign donation ban is one of the few recommendations that has spun out of the Justice Committee’s inquiry into foreign interference activities in New Zealand elections. That has been picked up. Probably the most important submissions that we received through that inquiry were those from Professor Anne-Marie Brady of Canterbury University and what we heard from the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) director, Rebecca Kitteridge. It was all eye-watering and eye-opening stuff and sobering for us to hear and read their evidence. We have not, and I think we still do not, take seriously enough the risk of foreign interference activities that we’ve been subjected to as a country. Ms Kitteridge rightly pointed out in her evidence that the challenge of foreign interference to our democracy is not just about what occurs around the election itself. Motivated State actors will work assiduously over many years, including in New Zealand, to covertly garner influence, access, and leverage.

She also specifically pointed out the risks we face from foreign State actors through the exertion of pressure or control of diaspora communities and the building of covert influence and leverage, including through electoral financing. After Pansy Wong resigned from Parliament, I was selected as the National Party candidate for the 5 March by-election nine years ago. It was made very clear to me at the time that I had to put a big emphasis on getting to know the Chinese community. It was also pointed out to me very early on that I must make good connections with the Chinese consul-general. Madam Liao at the time was very influential with Chinese New Zealanders, and important to my own success as well. In hindsight, it was naive of me to not think carefully about the pull that a foreign diplomat had on a large section of the population in my electorate.

The consul-general in Auckland is treated like a God, more so than any New Zealand politician, except probably the Prime Minister of the day. Each successive consul-general seemed to be better and more effective at holding New Zealand residents and citizens of Chinese descent in their grasp. Consul-generals Niu Qingbao and Xu Erwen were also treating us, as MPs—not just myself, others—as long-lost friends. All this effort, if you read Professor Brady’s paper called Magic Weapons, is a core plank of the Chinese Communist Party’s deliberate and targeted efforts to expand political influence activities worldwide. It’s also the very risk that Rebecca Kitteridge warned the Justice Committee about. Professor Brady’s paper is a 50-page academic work. I can’t do it justice here, but I recommend all MPs read it.

The activities of the Chinese Communist Party here domestically, where Chinese New Zealanders have been targeted, should be concerning enough for all of us. But the efforts that Chinese Communist Party – connected individuals have been making over the years to target us as politicians, and New Zealand political parties, also needs to be taken seriously. Every time we as MPs are showered with praise or dinners or hospitality by Chinese diplomats, we’re being subjected to what Professor Brady calls “united front work”. Every time we see our constituents bow and scrape to foreign diplomats, it’s a result of their long-running efforts to exert influence and control over our fellow Kiwis.

Both Professor Brady and director Kitteridge have warned about the risk of foreign interference activity where funding of political parties is used as a tool. This isn’t necessarily unlawful provided the donations meet the requirements of the Electoral Act. In 2018, I very publicly made some allegations relating to donations. I have said publicly already that the donations I called out were offered directly to the leader of the National Party at an event I was not in attendance at. I did not know at the time that those donations were made that they were in any way unlawful. I never had any control over those donations and I have never been a signatory of any National Party bank account in the time that I’ve been an MP. I never benefited personally from those donations. I was never a part of any conspiracy to defeat the Electoral Act. And the point at which I blew the whistle on these donations—first internally, then very publicly—that point came after I learned new information that led me to question the legality of the donations.

While making the accusations Ross has been careful to try to distance himself from what he claims has happened.

After raising these issues publicly, they were duly investigated first by the police and then the Serious Fraud Office. The result of those allegations is already public and I can’t traverse much detail here, but I will say that I refuse to be silenced and I will keep speaking out about what I know, and have seen, goes on inside political parties. I refuse to be quiet about the corroding influence of money in New Zealand politics.

Last year, I learnt, off the back of concerns I myself took to the proper authorities, that the National Party had been the beneficiary of large amounts of foreign donations. These donations are linked back to China and linked to the Chinese Communist Party, and with ease entered New Zealand. I didn’t go searching for this information. I was asked if I knew anything of the origins of the donations. I didn’t know. It was all new information to me, and I was surprised by what I learnt.

What I learnt was that large sums of money adding up to around $150,000 coming directly out of China in Chinese yuan over successive years ended up as political party donations. Two individuals, _________, were used as conduits for the donations.

These funds eventually made their way to the New Zealand National Party. The New Zealand National Party still holds those funds. The National Party is still holding at least $150,000 of foreign donations received in two successive years. I call on the National Party to return those foreign donations that it holds or transfer the money to the Electoral Commission. I doubt the National Party knew at the time that the money was foreign—I certainly didn’t either—but now that they will have that information to hand, they need to show leadership and do the right thing.

How does Ross know that the national party still holds the donations?

To avoid doubt, this $150,000 dollars’ worth of foreign donations is not the same as the $150,000 from the Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Industry company that they raised last year.

The warnings sounded from academics and spy agencies are not without reason. These two examples I give are very real examples of foreign money that has entered New Zealand politics. Professor Brady, with reference to the list of overseas members of the overseas Chinese federation, which is part of the Communist Party’s infrastructure, listed three top united front representatives in New Zealand:

_____, _____, and Zhang Yikun. All three are well known to political parties.

In a recent press statement from a PR agency, representatives of Zhang Yikun highlighted the philanthropic approach that he takes in New Zealand. The press statement on 19 February specifically said that he has been “donating to many political parties and campaigns.”, except his name has never appeared in any political party return. When asked by the media if political parties had any record of donations from this individual, all said no. But a quick search online will find dozens and dozens of photos of Zhang Yikun dining with mayors and MPs over the time, inviting them to his home, and his recent 20th convention of Teochew International Federation had a who’s who list of politicians turning up, including a former Prime Minister.

The foreign donations I mentioned earlier all have connections to the Chao Shan General Association. The founder and chairman of Chao Shan General Association is Zhang Yikun. To summarise these two bits of information, the largest party in this Parliament has been the beneficiary of large sums of foreign money. That money is linked to an individual who was listed as one of the top three Chinese Communist Party united front representatives in New Zealand. That individual’s PR agents say he has donated to many political parties and campaigns, yet he’s never showing up in any donation returns in the past.

One of Professor Brady’s concluding remarks in her submission to the Justice Committee was that foreign interference activities can only thrive if public opinion in the affected nation tolerates or condones it. We must not tolerate or condone any foreign interference activities. We must also not stay silent when we see problems right under our nose. It’s time for the political parties in this Parliament to address seriously the political party donation regime that we have.

I realise that both the two main parties in this Parliament often have to agree, but perhaps it’s time to put that out to an independent body. It’s too important for us to ignore, and it’s not right that we should allow these things to go on under our nose.

I seek leave to table two charts that show a flow of money from China into New Zealand and to the New Zealand National Party.

SPEAKER: I seek an assurance from the member that these charts are not integral to any matter currently before the courts.

JAMI-LEE ROSS: These charts have been prepared by the Serious Fraud Office and I cannot give you that assurance.

SPEAKER: You cannot give me that assurance. Well, I’m not going to put the question.

MPs involved in court processes usually refuse to discuss or answer questions about the case, claiming the sub judice rule requires this, so Ross using information he has obtained as a part of being prosecuted may raise some legal eyebrows. Also political eyebrows.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The sub judice rule is not as to the fact; it’s as to the argument of the merit of the case, and I think a far too rigid rule is being applied here. If a flow chart, without any other comment, is to be ruled out from being tabled because you say it is sub judice; it is not arguing anything but the fact. It is not arguing for the merits, it’s not taking sides, it’s not trying to be persuasive, and I think it should be allowed in.

It seems quite ironic that Peters is arguing against the sub judice rule. He has claimed his right to silence on an issue because of the rule multiple times in the past.

SPEAKER: Well, I thank the Deputy Prime Minister for his comments. This is clearly a matter on which I’ve thought long and hard. I think in the last Standing Orders review or possibly the one before that, the sub judice rules were significantly tightened. I think it’s fair to say that those changes were not unanimous. There was one member who stood out against the tightening of those rules, and it was me. But having said that, as Speaker, I am obliged to apply the rules as they exist, and the member has not been able to give me an assurance that the information contained in the chart is not central to a case currently before the court.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The problem with that is you’ve got a serious legal concept that’s been handed down through the decades, indeed the centuries, now being interpreted by parliamentarians as though they are a court of law in this context. The sub judice rule applies to any court of law—any document associated with a court of law—across our legal jurisdiction. But no parliamentarian should be given—sorry, I’m not making an attack on the parliamentarians, but I think it’s improper for parliamentarians to say, “Well, we’ve got a better interpretation of that, and this is what it is.”

Hon Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think, for me, the question is how Mr Ross came to hold the documents: whether in fact he is holding the documents because of his involvement in a case that may be before a judicial body, or whether he came to hold them through some other means.

SPEAKER: Well, I think I’m able to deal with that question on the matter of the briefings that I have received. Jami-Lee Ross has made it clear to me that the chart to which he refers or the information to which he refers is something which has come into his possession as a matter leading up to this and containing information relevant to this case.

Hon Aupito William Sio: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Noting the seriousness and the magnitude of the issues that have been raised with Mr Jami-Lee Ross, and noting also that his time is up, is it appropriate for me to seek leave that he be given extended time to complete his statements?

SPEAKER: The answer to that is that it’s not appropriate for that member to seek leave for another member in that way.

This could add to National’s embarrassment over donations.

But it also shows that Ross seems to be working with Peters in trying to damage National, and Ross will have his defence (of the SFO prosecution) in mind with what he says here – but using court information to do this may cause him some problems.

It will be interesting to see what The BFD runs on this today.


Sources:

https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/hansard-debates/rhr/document/HansS_20200305_051450000/4-question-no-4-foreign-affairs

https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/hansard-debates/rhr/document/HansS_20200305_054225000/ross-jami-lee

Jami-Lee Ross versus Barry Soper

After Jami-Lee Ross was revealed as one of the four people charged by the SFO over the National Party donations issue he released a statement saying he couldn’t say much, but it’s too long to repeat in full here. He headed it ‘Spoke Up Now Set Up’, and began:

Just like donations to political parties, the justice system should be open and transparent. That is what I believe and have sought.

Until now, however, I have been unable to make a public statement regarding these allegations, despite wanting to do so.

That is because at the end of January, the three people responsible for the donations to the National Party in 2017 and 2018 made an urgent application for suppression of their names and any details that might identify them. I was not aware of their application at the time. I made no application for suppression of my own name or details.

While shocked that I had been targeted by the SFO, I had no intention of hiding away. I always wanted to make it very clear that as the whistle blower on this deception, it was outrageous that I was then charged and that others were seeking to implicate me, making me their expendable scape goat.

However, I couldn’t speak up, as I needed to respect the right of those three people to seek name suppression. Further, even though I made no application for name suppression, the same protection was extended to me by the Court despite me not wanting that.

I have complied with the court’s orders to date, as is expected of any person in my position. The public could rightly be outraged, if I did not respect the court’s decision, or if I sought to abuse my freedom of speech in the Parliament to circumvent that decision.

However, in later court documents my lawyers have made it clear that I never sought name suppression and that I do not want it. I have therefore proactively sought to have the suppression orders lifted so that I can make this statement.

Barry Soper has a different take on things: If Ross didn’t want name suppression why did he threaten me?

Surely this came from a man who was muzzled against his will, from a person who blew the whistle that’s now rendered him deaf.

That’s what Jami-Lee Ross, one of the four defendants to the Serious Fraud Office charges which go before the Auckland District Court next week, would have us believe.

The other three, Chinese businessmen who donated two hundred grand to the National Party over two years when Ross was the bagman, made an urgent application for name suppression when the charges were laid, he tells us in a statement where he’s painted himself as very much the victim.

And just to reinforce his muzzled state because of their actions, he says he was unaware an application for suppression was being made and his lawyers didn’t make one for him. He goes on, he had no intention of hiding away but he couldn’t speak up because of the actions his three co-defendants had taken.

The court suppressed his name despite the fact that he didn’t want it, he claims. Furthermore, Ross said the public could be rightly outraged if he didn’t respect the court’s decision, or if he sought to abuse his freedom of speech in Parliament to circumvent the decision.

Then he went on to protest his innocence, vowing to fight the charges just as the three donors have.

For an accused who so desperately wanted to speak out it’s a little difficult to gel that with his lawyers’ reaction to my publicly naming him as one of the defendants on the day the Serious Fraud Office said it was laying charges.

In a text exchange they were blunt to say the least, telling me I was in contempt – the matter is before the court. They told me action would be taken the following day unless his name was taken down from our website: “You are on notice,” they warned.

It was pointed out to them the matter hadn’t been to court yet and maybe they should have been quicker off the mark if they wanted suppression of their client’s name.

“Charges are laid, it’s before the court – we can’t seek suppression till then. The SFO will be in contact. They are also very angry as it now risks the case.

“This contempt is actionable and worse for you, now admitted by you as intentional – ring your lawyers.”

And just to add a final threatening slap, after I said Ross had been named in the public interest, the text read: “I don’t want any crap Barry – but this was silly.”

David Farrar makes a similar claim:

Of course Ross goes on to claim he is innocent, has been set up and Simon Bridges is the Villain. He may be hoping the trial won’t happen until after the election in September.

I’ll wait until the court case reveals what actual evidence there is.

Ross claims to have new evidence  that will turn the legal tide – but like Cameron Slater (who has backed Ross against National) and Winston Peters (who Slater has backed against National)  often make ‘we have evidence’ but fail to produce it. Or at least we are still waiting for them to come up with it.

Claire Trevett: Jami-Lee Ross SFO charges – blowing the whistle NZ politics’ greatest own goal

That’s behind the NZH pay wall, but the headline probably says it all.

SFO investigating National Party donation

More problems for the National Party and Simon Bridges after a complaint made by ex-National MP Jami-lee Ross to the police has been referred to the Serious Fraud Office.

This is an investigation, not a finding, but it doesn’t look flash for Bridges or National.

Newsroom: SFO to investigate National donation allegations

The Serious Fraud Office will investigate allegations of electoral donation fraud levelled against the National Party and its leader Simon Bridges by rogue MP Jami-Lee Ross.

Ross has claimed vindication over the news, but Bridges has expressed confidence his own hands are clean and called on party officials to fully cooperate with the SFO inquiry.

Police started looking into the allegations after Ross spoke to them last year, but now appear to have elevated the issue into specialist hands.

In a statement released on Tuesday morning, police said they had referred a complaint they received last October to the SFO, “in relation to the disclosure of political donations under the Electoral Act”.

“The complaint has been referred to the SFO as they hold the appropriate mandate to look further into matters raised by the investigation to date.”

Police said they could not comment on their own investigation while the SFO was looking into the allegations.

Also from Newsroom: Jami-Lee Ross rides again

The former National MP accused of bullying and cheating during his time in Parliament has written to all his Botany constituents asking not to be judged “on a month where personal and health-related matters became a distraction”.

The Serious Fraud investigation was made public yesterday in a two sentence statement from police:

Ross held a press conference claiming he had been doubted repeatedly but each time in this controversy had proven his critics wrong.

He’s a bit premature there, nothing has been proven about the donation yet.