No hunting and fishing under Level 4 restrictions

A NZ First tweet yesterday suggested that “hunt the roar” (deer hunting) was an allowed activity during the Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown, but that has been ruled out.

The tweet, now deleted, had graphics depicting hunting and said:

“Having to self-isolate doesn’t necessarily mean being locked indoors. You may go for a walk or exercise or hunt the roar, but keep a 2 metre distance from people at all times.”

If allowed that would have given many people an excuse to roam the countryside as long as they had firearms, while everyone else was confined to home or nearby.

Covid-19 Alert Level 4 states:

Public spaces

  • Places where the public congregate must close.
  • All bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms, cinemas, pools, museums, libraries, playgrounds and any other place where the public congregate must close their face-to-face function.
  • Playgrounds are classed as an area where people congregate and so are off-limits.
  • People can exercise outdoors but must maintain a two metre distance from others.
  • People are expected to stay local when leaving the home.

Recreation or exercise

  • You can go for a walk, run, or bike ride. Exercise is good for people’s mental health.
  • If you do, it must be solitary, or with those you live with.
  • Keep a 2 metre distance.
  • However, if you are unwell, do NOT go outside.
  • DOC has closed all its campsites and huts.
  • Do not go hunting or hiking, and especially not on overnight trips.

The day before the NZ First tweet NZ Fish & Game posted under Covid-19 Information:

5.10pm 24 March

The Government’s clear intention at this stage is that fishing and hunting are prohibited during the Alert Level 4 lockdown period. If and when we receive other advice from the Government we will change our position.

Therefore, Fish & Game New Zealand are urging all anglers and hunters to do the right thing and stay at home while New Zealand is at COVID-19 Alert Level 4.

“Unfortunately, being at Level 4 means that anglers and hunters aren’t able to do the pursuits that they love,” Fish & Game New Zealand Chief Executive Martin Taylor says.

“The advice we have is that at Alert Level 4 anglers and hunters should not undertake activities that expose them and others to higher levels of risk. We are also advised that DOC huts and campsites are closed as they do not meet minimum separation requirements.”

New Zealand Search and Rescue (NZSAR) is asking people to stick to simple outdoor exercise and avoid areas where they could get lost or require search and rescue. NZSAR want to ensure that emergency services are available to help those in the greatest need. Fishing and hunting, even close to home, inherently carry a degree of risk and it is important for anglers and hunters not to further burden our emergency services and healthcare system. Staying in and around home is simply the right thing to do.

“It is heart-breaking to not be able to spend time in the outdoors, especially as for many of us this is our main way to destress, but we all have our part to play to beat COVID-19,” Mr Taylor says.

“The point of the next four weeks is to kill the virus in New Zealand so that life goes back to normal as quickly as possible. Let’s stay home for four weeks then we can get outdoors and back into angling and hunting.”

The Level 4 lockdown period is scheduled to end prior to the start of the game bird season, and if we are all responsible during the next four weeks the game bird season is on.

We ask for your patience while we piece together the complexities of what we are facing. In particular, we will have further advice on pegging day as soon as possible.

It is our intention to give anglers and hunters ongoing updates on our facebook page and website.

Please keep up-to-date with all the most recent Government guidance around COVID-19 here

If hunters and fishers were allowed to roam where ever they liked, which would often have involved travel first, it would have encouraged others to push limits and it could easily have become an unmanageable farce.

It would also have potentially been dangerous, as if they were to comply with requirements to keep isolation within households many hunters and fishers would have had to hunt and fish alone.

Last night NZ First changed their Facebook profile picture to:

and a Winston Peters video reinforces this message:

Drip feed continues on NZ First Foundation donations

The media drip feed continues as more details have been published about donations to the NZ First Foundation.

Yesterday RNZ: Concerns over secret fisheries donations to NZ First Foundation

One of the country’s biggest fishing companies, Talley’s, and its managing director donated nearly $27,000 to the New Zealand First Foundation, which has been bankrolling the New Zealand First Party.

The foundation received $26,950 from seafood giant Talley’s and from managing director Sir Peter Talley between 2017 and 2019, according to records viewed by RNZ.

It received the money from Talley’s in four amounts – all of which were below the threshold for public disclosure and so have not been publicly revealed until now.

Greenpeace was concerned by the donations and believed the New Zealand First Party had too much sway over fishing policy and the party was too close to the industry.

These don’t seem big amounts or a big deal, nor a surprise. I think Talleys and the fishing industry have are well known to have supported NZ First. The difference here is that donations are allegedly being hidden by channelling them via the Foundation rather than to the party where public declarations are required.

Today at Stuff:  Billionaires among the full list of donors supporting NZ First

A raft of multimillionaire rich-listers are among the funders of Winston Peters’ NZ First party, donating large and undisclosed sums to a slush fund now being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office.

Stuff can reveal a longer list of donors to the NZ First Foundation up to April 2019 – which appears to operate as a political slush fund – based on Foundation documents seen by Stuff. It includes New Zealand’s richest man, Graeme Hart, and the billion-dollar Spencer family.

Business magnates, property developers, a chicken farmer, and thoroughbred horse breeders are among the wealthy known to have contributed heavily to the foundation, which tallied more than $500,000 in donations.

There is no suggestion the donors have done anything wrong or acted illegally.

Former NZ First MP Doug Woolerton, a trustee of the NZ First Foundation and a government lobbyist, told the Politik website last year that the party has “always thought [its] constituency was the guy who owns the shop, the guy who fixes the tractors”.

“It’s not the farmers. It’s the people who service the farmers who do the grunt work day to day,” he said.

But the donations show NZ First retains the support of some of New Zealand’s business elite and wealthiest individuals.

A WORKING-CLASS PARTY

Despite gathering financial support from New Zealand’s lofty elite, NZ First maintains it is the party dedicated to meeting the needs of working-class Kiwis.

Newshub yesterday: Shane Jones concerned New Zealand First donors will be put-off in election year

Shane Jones is concerned about donors to New Zealand First being “depicted as some type of leper” as new revelations emerge about donations to the New Zealand First Foundation.

The NZ First MP said he is “genuinely not aware” of the functioning of the NZ First Foundation, which is currently under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) over allegations it’s been hiding donations for the party.

Jones said he’s worried about a “clear agenda” designed to “spook and quite frankly stigmatise industries” that New Zealand First relies on for support as a political party.

There may be a bit of that, but politicians under scrutiny often claim to be the victims of agendas. Winston Peters has often claimed to be a victim of the media and other things.

But none of this would have happened if NZ First hadn’t use a Foundation to, apparently, hide donations.

The Electoral Commission announced earlier this month that following an investigation it found the NZ First Foundation had “received donations which should have been treated as party donations for the New Zealand First Party”.

The Electoral Commission referred the matter to police who then referred it to the SFO which confirmed this month that an investigation had been launched.

Jones, a Cabinet minister, said he “accepts that there is a statutory process in place”.

He told Newshub: “I genuinely feel as an MP that people who think that I represent a force for good in New Zealand politics and the economy… I’m very concerned that they may be depicted as some type of leper.”

Jones does have a history of involvement in the fisheries sector, having chaired Te Ohu Kaimoana – the Māori Fisheries Commission – and seafood company Sealord.

The Minister for Regional Economic Development said he has nothing to hide, pointing to a donation he received from Talley’s in 2017 for $10,000 which was declared in his electorate candidate donation expenses form.

“It’s a matter of public record that over the course of various elections I have received donations from the fishing industry,” Jones told Newshub.

“My role of advocacy for fishing, the red meat industry, for the mining industry – it’s an open book… I will never shirk or shy away from standing up for industry.”

It is unclear how much NZ First MPs knew about the Foundation.  Even Peters claimed to know nothing about it, but his story keeps changing, he also claims to know everything the Foundation didn’t do.

There have been suggestions that the Foundation effectively managed party finances and donations without the party officials being involved at all. Some officials have resigned over it, and may be the source of the information being revealed.

It seems unlikely the SFO case will get to court before the election. There’s even doubt whether they will announce whether they will prosecute, they are currently just investigating.

It has been claimed that the Foundation paid expenses on behalf of the Party. Somme of those details could be interesting.

Racing clubs not happy with Racing Bill seizure of assets provisions

Tim Antonio, the Chairman of the Dargaville Racing Club, has written an open letter to Winston Peters expressing concerns over the Racing Bill currently at committee stage in Parliament (it passed it’s first reading in December).

Included in it’s provisions is the power to stop a racing club from racing and to dissolve the racing club, and remarkably to transfer any assets to ‘the racing code’.

Many small racing clubs have been established and maintained by local communities. It has been proposed that twenty racing clubs be dissolved, and appear at risk of having all assets taken from them.

Image

here is the proposed Bill (PDF):

https://www.parliament.nz/media/4486/362429780labourandnewzealandfirstcoalitionagreement.pdf

It is known that people with ‘racing interests’ have donated to the New Zealand First Foundation, which is now under investigation by the serious Fraud Office after the Electoral Commission found that donations weren’t passed on to the NZ First Party.

See RNZ: NZ First Foundation received tens of thousands of dollars from donors in horse racing industry

The New Zealand First Foundation has been receiving tens of thousands of dollars from donors in the horse racing industry in payments which fall just below the $15,000.01 at which party donations are usually made public.

As racing minister, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has delivered significant benefits to the industry, including millions of dollars of government money spent on tax breaks and scrapping betting levies.

It has long been known that Peters has promoted some racing interests, and that some racing interests have already received tax breaks from Peters (the current Government). The Spinoff:  Winston Peters stages his own Moment of Truth, live on Facebook

“How do you respond to the horse racing industry donations to your party as the horse racing minister?”

“For 30 years,” Peters said, “I’ve been talking about the need to save this industry.” Why would there be any surprise that he was supported by individuals interested in the industry, and related companies, to the tune of $80,000 in 2017, according to RNZ?

Besides, Peters observed, the current racing policy is the result of an independent report by Australian racing expert John Messara. He omitted to mention that Messara’s report was submitted in July 2018, and two months earlier in May Peters had announced a $4.8 million in tax breaks for “high quality” horse breeders, which officials estimated may blow out to $40 million and which was the only tax cut in the coalition’s first budget.

The 2017 New Zealand Labour Party & New Zealand First Coalition Agreement gave Peters the position of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Racing, and commits Labour to…

  • Support New Zealand First’s Racing policy

That’s a remarkably open or blanket commitment.

Maybe Mr Antonio and others concerned about the Bill would be better targeting the Green MPs who also voted for the First Reading. But are they committed to supporting the Bill? Maybe. From 2017 New Zealand Labour Party & Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand Confidence & Supply Agreement:

Relationship to other agreements

Both parties to this agreement recognise that Labour will be working with other parties both in terms of
coalitions and confidence and supply arrangements.

Labour agrees that it will not enter into any other relationship agreement which is inconsistent with this
agreement and the Green Party and Labour agree that they will each act in good faith to allow all such
agreements to be complied with.

It appears that the Greens are committed to allowing the Labour-NZ First agreement “to be complied with”.

But Mr Antonio would also need to appeal to National who also supported the Bill at its first reading. But National MPs have expressed concerns about the power of the Racing Minister and the ability to seize racing club assets.

Hon DAVID BENNETT:

Now, in the bill the Minister has made it very clear that he has the ultimate discretion over who will run the racing industry, going forward. That is a lack of accountability, a lack of ownership, and a lack of respect for those people that are in the industry. For example, the Minister can appoint the board to replace codes if he needs to do so. So the codes that may be out there, the racing codes of thoroughbred, standard bred, and dogs, can be replaced. Their boards can be replaced by the Minister at his whim under this legislation. The Minister can also appoint a commissioner for any disputes between the three codes, giving him ultimate discretion, again, to dictate what may be done.

But the greatest discretion this Minister has is in regard to the assets of clubs and the relationship they have with codes. Racing clubs, under this bill, will have to abide by the rules of their relevant code.

The National Party does not accept that lack of independence and clarity as worded in this bill. It is very difficult to see how clubs can have any autonomy under this legislation. They are, essentially, at the whim of the code, and if the code is not effective in putting pressure on, they can then be at the whim of the Minister. This bill gives the Minister the ability to override the club’s decision and to vest their assets and their landownership in the code. It is, effectively, a mechanism where the Minister can nationalise racing portfolios and racing clubs, and can take away their ability to have independent racing operations.

On behalf of Labour: Hon KRIS FAAFOI

In terms of property, it is worth emphasising here that the preferred approach for property decisions is negotiation and for the community interests to be recognised. The bill introduces a suite of changes to resolve historical property issues that have contributed to the decline of the industry. Two property objectives are introduced to guide decision making by the industry: first, the value of racing property should be retained in the industry and used for maximum industry benefit, and, two, statutory provisions are introduced to support negotiations between clubs and codes on using surplus venues. The bill also introduces as a backstop a statutory decision-making process for the Minister for Racing to recommend an Order in Council to allocate property to the code. Provision is also made for payments to the club and community where it is warranted.

So the assets of clubs can be decided on by the Minister for Racing.

Also from Labour: KIERAN McANULTY

The Labour Party’s proud to support this bill. It is a bill that is needed, and it is a bill that will support an industry that many of us love.

It is a fantastic industry that supports many regions and provinces where many of us here in this House live, and I think that this bill, under the leadership of the Minister for Racing, the Rt Hon Winston Peters, will be seen and looked back on in history as the thing that rejuvenated this industry. I commend it to the House.

The Bill appears to do the opposite of supporting the regions, especially the South Island.  NZ First mustn’t get many votes of donations from the South Island.

BARBARA KURIGER (National—Taranaki – King Country)

We recognise the need for change in the industry. We are supporting the intent of this bill, and we are supporting it to first reading, as we look to help the racing industry transform into the competitive market that it does have the potential to be. But where we disagree, and where we want to have a good discussion at select committee, is that this bill gives too much power to the Minister when it comes to decisions around these racing venues and racing tracks around the country. In particular, we can’t support Subpart 2 of Part 1 in its current form, because this Subpart 2 refers to the transfer of assets and surplus venues. Really, this will be like a red rag to a bull to many in rural provincial New Zealand.

So, clause 25, that allows the Order in Council recommended by the Minister to grab these properties if an agreement can’t be reached by local clubs, is a step too far for the National caucus, because we believe in private property rights and we know that these people have put a lot of effort into this over a period of time.

No Green MPs spoke on the Bill.

It’s not just the potential seizure of assets, the forced closure of courses is a big deal for regions.

Look at the clubs that could be closed in the South Island: Reefton, Greymouth, Hokitika, Motukarara, Timaru, Kurow, Oamaru, Waimate, Oamaku, Winton and Gore.

That guts racing from West Coast and the bottom half of the South Island, and not just country clubs. Places like Timaru and Gore have been significant in racing for a long time.

 

Winston Peters, WO/BFD and the Media Party meme

Winston Peters referred to “Media Party” in a tweet on 13 February:

This is more Wellington bulldust. The ‘Media Party’ are outraged because someone, not us, did to them what they do to others all the time. Corporal Jones was right, they dont like it up ’em.

That prompted suggestions on Kiwiblog that it sounded like CameronSlater/Whale Oil/The BFD language, for good reason. The post that started the furore that Peters was referring to closed with:

Corporal Jones was dead right when he said they don’t like it up ’em.

The BFD posted a transcript of Winston Peters’ Message to NZ First Supporters as a part of their ongoing support of Peters. It included:

That this is a political campaign by the ‘Media Party’ is clear.

The BFD keeps pushing the Media Party meme. One of their content contributors Chris Trotter has joined in with it in RNZ Must Have No Dogs In The September Fight.

Winston Peters is encouraging voters to think of RNZ as belonging to “The Media Party”. He wants them to see it as a politically partisan institution with its own, vicious attack-dogs in the electoral fight. If he succeeds, it will be, and probably should be, the end of public radio in New Zealand.

Trotter has defended contributing to The BFD:

I happily accepted Rupert’s cheques (even if they did bear the logo of INL!) Likewise, I’m happy to bank those from both “The BFD” and “The Daily Blog”. It’s called freelancing, mate.

It’s his choice of course, but he is looking a bit like he’s a member of the Winston/BFD party.

The BFD even include the term in their ‘dictionary’:

The Media party A Whaleoil blog meme to describe how the media act like a political party in opposition to the National government due to the woefully poor performance of the Labour party. It is a way of saying that, essentially, due to the gap left by an underperforming opposition, the MSM have stepped in to counter and criticise the government. They have made it their job so they have become a political party.

That’s ridiculous. A primary job of media in a democracy is to hold the Government to account, which includes criticism. NZ First is a part of the current Government, but are whining because the media are criticising them.

The media certainly deserve criticism at times, but in politics they get far more than they deserve when politicians


The “Media Party” meme seems to have been started by Slater in the first newsletter of the subscription INCITE in December 2015:

The Advent of the Media Party – Cam Slater writes about why the media have moved from neutral, dispassionate observers to players in the political game, and why the public no longer trusts them.

And Slater/WO/BFD and now Peters have been banging the media bias drum ever since.

Media have been players in politics pretty much as long as there has been media, and accusations that they aren’t neutral have been around for as long, so this isn’t a big revelation.

Which is quite ironic really. Much of Winston’s past successes in politics is because he was accomplished at using playing the media and coaxing them into giving him free publicity.

And the success of Whale Oil was largely due to them feeding stories to the media, who then amplified them. Without the help of the media WO would never have succeeded like they did.

And now both Peters and The BFD grizzle when the media coverage isn’t favourable for them. They want media promotion, but get all cry baby when the media exposes their crap.

The media are far from perfect. In politics they can make or break candidates, and they can turn support for or against parties. They carry a huge democratic responsibility, and they don’t always do a good job.

But they are far better than the alternative, no media.

And they are far better than The BFD, who claim to be media:

The BFD is the fastest-growing media organisation in New Zealand. Its brand of news, opinion, analysis and entertainment is finding fertile ground with an audience that is feeling abandoned by traditional news media.

Whale Oil grew quickly, until Dirty Politics exposed them and the use of them by the National Party in 2014. John Key and National quickly distanced themselves, as did the media.

They were taken down due to financial and legal problems, but reappeared as The BFD. While they have some neutral content, one of their primary agendas is promoting NZ First and attacking National, National’s leaders, as well as Labour and the Greens.

In a post yesterday Why The BFD?

But if the media won’t do it The BFD is only too happy to oblige. If it weren’t for the majority of MSM sucking up to Ardern there would be no place for us here at The BFD at all. We only exist to fill the gap in the public’s demand for more factual, balanced reporting and a platform for honest, open discussion.

Do they really believe that?

Here at The BFD, unlike the MSM,we are free to declare our political allegiance if we choose to.

Funny. It’s obvious they are working for NZ First, but they choose to not declare what that relationship actually is.

The must be Big Dummies if they think they are fooling anyone.

The rest of the media are obviously not one ‘party’. They hold to account all parties to varying degrees, depending on what is newsworthy.

At The Standard they frequently claim that the media (companies and state run) are hopelessly biased towards National and the right, or worse.

At Kiwiblog they frequently assert that the media (journalists) are hopelessly biased towards Ardern, Labour and the left.

At The BFD they seem to think everyone is against them and NZ First. In other words everyone who calls bullshit on their agenda.

The “Media Party” is simply a figment of their perceived or claimed victimhood when their bias and agenda are exposed. s a meme it’s ridiculous.

The Winston Blog is closer to the mark.

 

 

James Shaw speaks on NZF/BFD use of photos against journalists

After growing pressure to make some sort of statement Green co-leader James Shaw has commented carefully on NZ First handing photos to an attack blog who then threatened the journalists.

NZ Herald: NZ First Foundation saga: Greens break silence on ‘chilling’ photos of journalists

The Greens have broken their silence and expressed alarm at published photos of an ex-NZ First president with journalists who have been reporting on donations to the party.

The photos were published on website The BFD, which has been linked to Whale Oil, the blog at the centre of the 2014 book Dirty Politics.

The BFD has increasingly been used to promote NZ First and to attack the Greens, Jacinda Ardern, Simon Bridges, National and the media.

Shaw told the Herald that the details of what had happened were unclear.

“But regardless of who took the photographs and why, the fact they were passed to a blog that is designed to undermine trust in our political system is a concern.”

Shaw also took a step further in relation to questions about the NZF Foundation and whether it has properly declared donations to the NZF party.

“The allegations are concerning and due process must be followed while they are investigated,” Shaw said.

“We know New Zealanders will be looking at this issue and worrying about what it means for their democracy, which is why we are focused on making the system more transparent and fair.”

This is something, but seems a lot more measured than Green condemnation of John Key and National when Hager’s Dirty Politics in 2014 revealed the use of Whale Oil for political attacks.

Shaw has previously answered questions about the foundation by saying that the country’s electoral system needed to be strengthened.

He is now calling for an independent citizens’ assembly to “clean up” political donations, which have been clouded by questions over the NZF Foundation, as well as the SFO charges laid in relation to a $100,000 donation to the National Party.

Perhaps an alternative to fixing the laws would be a good idea, rather than politicians dominated by the large parties who receive large donations doing what suits their own interests.

Shaw’s response tends towards too mild and too late.

Jacinda Ardern has remained fairly silent on the NZF/BFD issue, and has been widely criticised for this.

National Party leader Simon Bridges said there remained many unanswered questions about the “chilling” photos.

“It beggars belief to think that somehow by chance these journalists were photographed with Lester Gray and the photos somehow found their way onto a blog.”

if the National Party had been involved in such a thing, Labour and the Greens would be shouting from the rooftops.

“The Prime Minister appears to be hiding. Her silence is damning. Has she asked who took the photos, did they pay for it, and how did they end up on the blog?”

National were involved in this sort of thing up until 2014, but then distanced themselves from Whale Oil. Cameron Slater then turned his attacks on Key, National, Bill English, Paula Bennett and Bridges. This has continued at The BFD, although Slater now seems to have a more peripheral role.

While the change of position from National is stark it does turn pressure towards Ardern.

Asked about Bridges’ comments, a spokesperson for Ardern said the Prime Minister was focused on the issues New Zealanders care about.

“New Zealand First Party matters are for them to respond to,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

That is a very lame response. Ardern will no doubt be questioned about this in her weekly media conference – and will no doubt have some sort of response prepared. It will have to be much better than her spokesperson.

Links between NZ First and The BFD journalist threat agenda

David Garrett at Kiwiblog suggested I also post this here. Thanks for your advice David. Funny to see you playing interference for NZ First and The BFD.


In response to a post at Kiwiblog on The mute PM

Ardern and Shaw silent on Peters and NZ First concerns

Also: Jacinda Ardern’s silence on Winston Peters is deafening

Jacinda Ardern is yet to say anything at all about the fact the Electoral Commission made absolutely clear on Monday that the way NZ First was treating donations to its foundations was wrong.

Instead of properly taking this on, Ardern has hidden, as politicians often do, behind the perceived inappropriateness of commenting while some process is still active.

Following the Electoral Commission’s finding, Ardern would have been totally within her rights to say, at the very least, that she thought these donations should have been declared to the commission. She could have said she was disappointed that a coalition partner appeared not to have been as fulsome as it could have been with informing the authorities – all without alleging any kind of crime. Trying to hide your donations, even legally, is a political act that politicians should be happy to talk about.

This silence got even louder on Thursday when it became clear that NZ First had some kind of involvement in two covertly taken photographs of journalists reporting on the Foundation story, which found their way onto a right-wing blog. Peters told Magic Talk on Tuesday that “we took the photographs just to prove that’s the behaviour going on”, but later backtracked to say a supporter just happened to see the journalists and thought he or she should snap a photo.

When a politician’s story keeps changing it warrants more suspicion that something deserves exposure.

The thing is, the Cabinet Manual does have a section about ministers upholding and being seen to uphold “the highest ethical standards” at all times, not just when doing ministerial business. Ardern has all the ammo she needs to give Peters a dressing-down over this, but instead she defers. Things don’t have to be illegal to be wrong.

Worse, this rot of silence has also infected the Green Party, which, as a confidence and supply partner, has plenty of legitimate room to criticise such tactics. You don’t need to tear the Government up or demand that Peters is fired – you can just say what the journalists’ union said on Friday, that Peters needs to explain himself and apologise.

Instead the Greens just talk about how the law needs to be changed – which most people agree with, but isn’t the point. The topic at hand isn’t underhanded but lawful behaviour, it’s stuff that is potentially illegal – hence the police referral. The party should grow back its spine.

There is quite a lot of pressure on the Greens online to speak up.

It is blindingly obvious why Ardern is so blind to Peters’ actions. He is not the kind of man to take a telling-off sitting down, and it would probably all get messier as Peters extracted some kind of utu for her daring to criticise him.

But she is the leader of this Government, and of a party that is vastly larger in both power and popularity. Her words set the standard of behaviour for ministers – she is in this sense the most powerful political pundit we have. It’s well past time she found that voice.

But that doesn’t look likely unless someone like Helen Clark starts tweeting about it.

Poll – replacement NZ First leader (plus more donations drip feeding)

At this stage there is no indication that Winston Peters will step down as Deputy Prime Minister pending the SFO investigation into how the NZ First Foundation has been dealing with donations. Peters has both distanced himself saying he has nothing to do with the foundation, but has also said he knows the foundation has bone nothing wrong and has been doing all the media releases and interviews in relation to the issue.

And there is no indication that Winston Peters is ready to step down as leader of NZ First or to retire from politics. He doesn’t exactly look like an energizer bunny but politically he just keeps on going (with the occasional top up of voter energy after things have gone flat).

But regardless, Newshub decided to do some polling on a replacement NZ First leader – Who Kiwis think should be NZ First leader if Winston Peters stands down

In the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll, voters were asked for their thoughts on who should take over if Peters ever stands down as New Zealand First leader.

Thee results are quite mixed.

  • Ron Mark: 17.9%
  • Shane Jones: 14.5%
  • Tracey Martin: 13.8%
  • Fletcher Tabuteau: 3.6%

The three most popular are the three most prominent NZ First MPs. All are ministers. Jones is by far the most visible (he does a lot of attention seeking), but interesting to see Mark top the poll, as he has been a much more quiet worker.

Results from NZ First voters must be suspect as the sample must be quit small, with only 3.6% preferring the party in the poll.

  • Ron Mark: 34.4%
  • Shane Jones: 18.5%
  • Fletcher Tabuteau: 13.6%
  • Tracey Martin: 2.9%

So Jones doesn’t seem very popular even amongst the few NZ First voters polled. This doesn’t mean much, but it’s a bit interesting.

Peters has always been leader of NZ First, the Peters is sometimes referred to as Winston First.

Tracey Martin was chosen as deputy leader of NZ First on 14 February 2013.

Ron Mark challenged her and was selected to replace her on 3 July 2015.

Fletcher Tabuteau replaced Mark as leader on 27 February 2018.

Meanwhile Simon Bridges hasn’t ruled out working with Winston Peters forever:

It would be ridiculous making a commitment on this for future elections, so this means less than the replacement leader polling.


Meanwhile the donations story continues to drip feed, despite Peters saying he was slaying a complaint with the police over the ‘theft’ of information from the Foundation  he has nothing to do with.

RNZ: NZ First Foundation received tens of thousands of dollars from donors in horse racing industry

The New Zealand First Foundation has been receiving tens of thousands of dollars from donors in the horse racing industry in payments which fall just below the $15,000.01 at which party donations are usually made public.

As racing minister, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has delivered significant benefits to the industry, including millions of dollars of government money spent on tax breaks and scrapping betting levies.

Records viewed by RNZ show one of the big donors was the Lindsay family. Brendan Lindsay sold the plastic storage container business Sistema for $660 million in late 2016 and a year later bought Sir Patrick Hogan’s Cambridge Stud.

Three lots of $15,000 were deposited into the bank account of the New Zealand First Foundation on 11 October, 2018, according to records viewed by RNZ.

One of the donations was in Brendan Lindsay’s own name and one was in the name of his wife, Jo Lindsay. There was a third deposit made that same day listed as Lindsay Invest Donation.

The year before – in the 2017 election year – Brendan Lindsay also donated $15,000. On the same day there is another deposit for $15,000 listed as Lindsay Trust Donation. Both were banked by the New Zealand First Foundation on 5 May, 2017.

Brendan Lindsay told RNZ, via email, that neither he nor his wife were aware of the Foundation.

Spreading payments between related people and entities all just below the disclosure threshold looks designed to avoid the law. Time will tell whether it is actually illegal or not, but can have an appearance of being deliberately deceitful.


 

NZ First referred to police/Serious Fraud Office

It is unclear who exactly is in the firing line (people-wise), but the the Electoral Commission has referred the party donation arrangements involving the NZ First Foundation to the police, who immediately passed the matter on to the Serious Fraud Office.

Winston Peters has rfesponded saying the party would review it’s donation arrangements.

Electoral Commission: Statement on donations enquiries

The Electoral Commission has made enquiries into issues raised regarding the New Zealand First Party and the New Zealand First Foundation and their compliance with the requirements for donations and loans.

Based on the information available, we have formed the view that the New Zealand First Foundation has received donations which should have been treated as party donations for the New Zealand First Party. In the Commission’s view, the donations were not properly transmitted to the Party and not disclosed as required by the Electoral Act 1993.

The Commission does not have the investigative powers to form a view about whether this failure to transmit and the non-disclosure means offences have been committed. These matters have therefore been referred to the New Zealand Police, which have the necessary powers to investigate the knowledge and intent of those involved in fundraising, donating, and reporting donations.

The Police immediately handed the matter on to the Serious Fraud Office.

Andrew Geddis (The Spinoff):  The NZ First donations investigation had to happen. And ignorance is no excuse

Let me start by saying that I am not in the least surprised by this development. Not. In. The. Least.

Contrary to Winston Peter’s assertions to the contrary, I know evidence when I see it. And the documentary material that Guyon Espiner shared with me for his RNZ stories here and here revealed something very unusual taking place.

In short, the material appeared to show people with involvement in running the NZ First Party accepting donations intended to help that party, banking them into a “New Zealand First Foundation” account separate from the party proper, then using that money to pay for party costs. But because those donations hadn’t made it into the NZ First Party’s account, the NZ First party secretary hadn’t reported them to the Electoral Commission.

If the donations to the NZ First Foundation are party donations (as the commission thinks), then the Electoral Act required that they be “transmitted” (i.e. handed over) to the NZ First Party’s secretary. This apparently never happened; indeed, the party secretary publicly has sought to disassociate herself from the foundation’s activities.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the secretary is off the hook. Because, if the money paid into the NZ First Foundation’s account are party donations, then they ought to have been disclosed to the Electoral Commission. And as they weren’t, then the party secretary is responsible for that failure unless she can prove she didn’t mean hide the facts and “took all reasonable steps in the circumstances to ensure that the information … was accurate.”

RNZ: Donations made to NZ First Foundation referred to police for investigation

When asked if this would have any bearing on the governing relationship between New Zealand First and Labour, Ardern said the matter had only just been referred to the SFO, and she intended to let them do their job.

“I will not pass judgement on whether or not an offence has occurred, or if it has, who may be responsible.”

She said she had been consistent when “another political party” had been under investigation.

“I let them do their job, and nor have I cast judgment on that process.”

NZ First reaction:

New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters said the party would review its arrangements for party donations in light of the Electoral Commission’s decision.

“I had already advised the party last week to take this course of action and itself refer the matter to the police, which the party had agreed to do.

“This does not imply any impropriety but is intended to ensure the party, as with all parties, have robust arrangements.

“If the review deems it necessary for New Zealand First and all parties to develop new arrangements to receive donations the party will consult with the Electoral Commission”.

“I am advised that in all its dealings the Foundation sought outside legal advice and does not believe it has breached the Electoral Act.

“At this stage the SFO will consider if an offence has been committed, or otherwise, and it is not appropriate to make any comment on specific detail that prejudges their investigation”.

This is likely to take some time for the SFO to come back with a decision on whether to prosecute.

Probably not coincidentally just prior to this Peters said that they would be referring the leak of information (calling it theft) to the police. It looks more like whistle blowing, especially in light of the referral to the SFO.

Peters made a joke of the referral to the SFO of National party donations, but he is unlikely to be laughing now.

Newshub/Reid Research poll – February 2020

The first political poll of election year is of interest but doesn’t change much.

  • National 43.3% (down from 43.9)
  • Labour 42.5% (up from 41.6)
  • Greens 5.6% (down from 6.3)
  • NZ First 3.6% (down from 4.0)
  • ACT Party 1.8% (up from 1.4)

No surprises there, all margin of error movements.

On those numbers National/ACT are short of getting a majority but not far away and if NZ First miss the threshold it opens possibilities.

Labour+Greens are close to a two party majority of seats.

The others:

  • Maori Party 0.9% (up from 0.7)
  • New Conservative Party 0.7% (down from 1.0)
  • The Opportunities Party 0.6% (down from 1.1)

None of those parties look like getting anywhere near the 5% threshold. The Maori Party are going to contest seats to try to avoid needing the threshold.

Stated margin of error: 3.1%

Newshub: National and Labour neck-and-neck in new Newshub-Reid Research poll

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 38.7% (up from 38.4)
  • Simon Bridges 10.6% (up from 6.7)

Newshub poll: Simon Bridges breaks 10 percent as preferred Prime Minister

Polling period 23 January – 1 February, before Bridges ruled out NZ First from any coalition deals, and before Waitangi Day week.

Their last poll was in October 2019 – Newshub Reid Rese

Polling for this term: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_2020_New_Zealand_general_election