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:

Ardern and Government deserve praise for handling of Covid-19

We, New Zealand and the World, are facing unprecedented health and financial crises. There will be valid criticisms of the way things are handled in a rapidly changing situation, with over 10,000 deaths so far but potentially millions of fatalities from the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Leaders and Governments are having to do their best in a very challenging environment.

People are uncertain and uneasy, understandably. There are valid fears for lives, for livelihoods, for life savings and for ways of life. Some New Zealanders will die, many will lose jobs lose earnings, lose part or all of their life savings. All of us will have to change the way we live, for months at least and probably for years.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern can be a very good communicator when she is well informed and not doing politics, and as she did dealing with last year’s mosque massacre and the Whakaari/White Island eruption, she has again risen to the occasion and I think is doing a very good job keeping us informed in an assuring manner. She excels at fronting crises.

It is hugely challenging getting the balance right between timely and appropriate actions, and over-reactions. I think the Government is largely getting things about right with it’s response to the virus, with the initial financial package, and with it’s messaging.

There were one or two communication missteps early on but they seem to have been resolved.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has done ok in a support role.

Minister of Finance Grant Robertson has managed finances prudently to date and seems well advised and is acting appropriately in the evolving crisis.

Minister of Health David Clark is not as good a communicator, seems to lack confidence (in a very difficult role) and can seem out of his depth a bit, but he is being covered by others.

Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield is doing an extraordinary job with daily media conferences, calmly keeping us well informed. He is a huge asset.

I think if National were in Government they would be doing much the same things as our Labour-led Government are.  New Zealand is taking very similar measures to the right wing Australian Government. Times like this need expert advice and common sense, not political idealism.

Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges has tried to get holding to account balanced with support of the Government in a crisis, but his communication skills and manner aren’t great (unfortunately grate would be closer to the mark). He has been overshadowed by finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith, who yesterday backed the Ait New Zealand support package announced by the Government, and also to an extent health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse.

Greens are doing their thing but are more working with their own constituencies and from the sidelines, publicly at least.

There are some in media and social media who haven’t been able to put politics and prejudices aside, and there are some who seem to think they have better information than the Government and are giving advice and demanding different actions. I trust our Government to be largely on top of things, and have confidence we are being well enough informed. I am resisting criticising and naming the petty and the pissy.

The Government won’t get everything exactly right (in retrospect at least), but I have confidence we have our Government and MPs are doing everything they can to deal with the huge challenges currently facing us. There is scope for valid and reasonable criticisms, but petty politics should be set aside.

We should trust our Prime Minister and our Government and our Opposition to inform us and do what they can for us. I think we have to.

I’m doing quite a bit of research and am following things closely, and I am confident we are being well informed and reasonably warned about what is likely to happen. There are many unknowns, but we have to trust our leaders and Government on this, while doing things for ourselves as well.

We have to work together in families and communities to support each other through this. More on that in the next post.

Pike River re-entry costs jump again but no sign of body recovery

Pike River Recovery Minister Andrew Little has announced that Cabinet has approved of further funds “to complete the project”, but failed to mention a key figure – the total cost.It had already been raised substantially to $36 million “plus some capital expenditure” in 2018, but that has now been raised another $10.8 million as well as a $4.2 million contingency, bringing the total up to a possible $51 million.

And that is just to get as far as the rockfall in the mine, which is probably nowhere near most if not all of the bodies so recovery looks as unlikely as ever, despite the hope given to the families of some of the victims.

Beehive: Final costs for Pike River recovery released

Following the standard process of first communicating to the families, Pike River Recovery Minister Andrew Little has confirmed that Cabinet has approved final funding for the completion of the Coalition Government’s commitment to the Pike River recovery.

Andrew Little also confirmed that, as has been the scope since the start of the project, the recovery effort will not be going beyond the end of the drift and into the main mine workings.

“The Coalition government remains committed to the safe and successful recovery and forensic examination of the Pike River drift. It is important to promote accountability for what happened, to inform the ongoing criminal investigation into the tragedy, and to help prevent future tragedies,” Andrew Little said.

“The Pike River Recovery Agency now expects it will most likely be possible to complete recovery work underground by July/August of this year and hand the mine over to the Department of Conservation for ongoing management by the end of the year. Cabinet has approved a further $10.8 million to complete the project as well as a $4.2 million contingency,” Andrew Little said.

But there is no sign of there being any chance of body recovery. A cabinet paper details they original aimed to do…

…and what they now expect to achieve:

December 2016: Winston Peters pledges to be first to re-enter Pike River mine

To chants of “Winston for Prime Minister,” New Zealand First leader Winston Peters offered to be the first to go back into the condemned Pike River Mine.

Peters was speaking at a rally of some of the Pike River families and their spokesman Bernie Monk who came to Parliament to push their case for re-entry into the stricken mine.

He says he’s read some of the safety reports on Pike River and, like the families, believes it’s now safe to return.

January 2017: Peters meets with Pike River families

Yesterday, Mr Peters met with the families at the picket line near the site’s entrance, and he will meet with them again today at a public meeting in Greymouth.

Mr Peters said he wanted to show the families he would not ignore them, and supported them completely.

“The political system has shut them down, ignored them and has done its best to raise the suspicion that someone’s involved in a cover-up here. Otherwise, why did Solid Energy buy Pike River Mine and why do they want to seal it up for ever?

“Now these families want justice, they want peace of mind, closure, and it could be done if the government was acting in the way it should be doing, and in the way it promised.”

He said he supported the Pike River families who wanted to re-enter the mine, and reiterated his earlier vow not to agree to a coalition with any party that did not hold the same view.

Peters didn’t specifically mention body recovery, but that’s what ‘closure’ means to some people.

Prior to the 2017 election Cross-party agreement pledges a reentry of Pike River Mine

Jacinda Ardern says a Labour Government would reenter the Pike River Mine.

The leaders of Labour, United Future, the Maori Party and the Green Party signed a commitment in Wellington on Tuesday to reenter the West Coast mine.

“Re-entering the drift will mean we can recover some of the men, and evidence of the cause of the explosions. That will help deliver justice and answers, and bring the men home to their families.”

Families of the Pike River victims say they are “over the moon” with the cross-party agreement for an agency to take ownership of the mine and reclaim the drift to recover remains and evidence.

This obviously raised hopes and expectations of families.

The Labour-NZ First coalition agreement merely stated “Commit to re-entry to Pike River”.  They followed through on this, to an extent – Andrew Little enters Pike River portal

Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry Andrew Little, and Pike Family representatives Anna Osborne and Sonya Rockhouse have entered the Pike River Mine portal.

“Today we walked together into the mine portal to demonstrate a safe re-entry is possible. I made the emotional journey with representatives of families who have fought for years for re-entry.

“In our first 100 days the Coalition Government handed the keys to Pike River Mine to the families, and established Te Kāhui Whakamana Rua Tekau Ma Iwa Pike River Recovery Agency. In the 11 weeks since the Agency was created we’ve made real progress on safe re-entry. Today proves that.

“Again, I’d like to acknowledge all the families who are working in partnership with me and the Coalition Government. We owe it to those families to re-enter the drift and retrieve evidence and the remains of their loved ones,” says Andrew Little.

In May 2019 when re-entry began from Winston Peters: Long awaited re-entry to Pike River Mine

Today’s successful re-entry into the Pike River Coal Mine is a victory for the families who are fighting tirelessly for answers, says New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters.

“Re-entry into Pike River is about justice. It’s about finding out the truth, and it is about doing what’s right for the families of those 29 men,” Mr Peters said.

“On the 13th of December 2016 New Zealand First promised those families that we would re-enter Pike River Mine. It is with solemnity that we deliver on a that promise today,” he said.

Re-entry into Pike River Mine was a bottom-line commitment for New Zealand First, and was entrenched in the Labour-New Zealand First Coalition agreement.

“Today is a milestone for those families. The previous government showed so little courage and completely disregarded the need for accountability.

“We have shown today that going back in was possible and could be done safely,” said Mr Peters.

Yesterday Pike River mine: Entry tunnel recovery cost soars to $47 million

Pike River mother Sonya Rockhouse said the re-entry project, and the evidence it would unearth, was the best chance families had to see someone held to account for killing their men.

“People ask me why so much money is being spent, to me it’s quite simple: it’s being spent to try to solve the mass homicide of 29 men. We can’t be a country that refuses people justice because it costs too much,” she said.

There has been no indication of evidence unearthed so far.

Bernie Monk has battled for nearly a decade to get his son Michael back and to see somebody held accountable for his death.

For him, the news that no assessment will be made of whether the main workings of the mine can be entered means his battle is a long way from finished.

“How can they make this call when the whole idea was to go down 800m – it’s never been investigated – [to] make a call before we even get there,” Monk said.

So the $51m looks unlikely to get Bernie Monk what he wants.

Stuff: Government approves another $15m for Pike River recovery

Pike River widow Anna Osborne said the Government’s plan to close the door on reentry of the mine workings was “premature”.

“It seems a bit odd to say no to that before we have got to the end of the drift and assessed whether reentry of the mine workings is needed or even possible,” she said.

She called for other families to campaign for reentry of the mine workings.

Anna Osborne wants re-entry to the mine workings, not just to part of the access tunnel. There seems to be no scope to achieve this.

Rowdy Durbridge, whose son Dan died in the mine, said he was proud of what the families had achieved for their boys.

“I had family and mates die in that mine. I worked beside them down there and I’ve felt a responsibility to them ever since,” he said.

“That’s feeling’s never going to go away but having fought and won drift reentry and the investigation of their deaths, that’s something I think me and the families and a whole lot of Kiwis who believe in justice can hold our heads high about.”

There is no sign of what accountability and justice might achieve.

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

Ardern says Jones was loose and wrong, but Jones unrepentant

Shane Jones made controversial comments on Newshub in the weekend that have been labeled racist – see Shane Jones accused of stoking racism and embarrassing Peters.

Both his leader Winston Peters and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern were out of the country then. Yesterday back in New Zealand Ardern said that Jones was loose with his words and wrong.

RNZ: PM Jacinda Ardern publicly reprimands Shane Jones over Indian immigrant remarks:

Over the weekend, Jones told the Newshub Nation he wanted a “maximum population”, and New Zealand needed to think about the kind of country we wanted.

“If you want another million, two million, three million people, we should debate it and there should be a mandate, rather than opening up the options, unfettered, and everyone comes here from New Delhi.

“I don’t like that idea at all. I think the number of students that have come from India have ruined many of those institutions,” he told Newshub Nation.

Ardern said…

…Jones was not in the Cabinet meeting today, but she planned to have a strong word with him.

“On many occasions I’ve witnessed Minister Jones be both loose with his language and also be wrong, and on this occasion he was both”.

“I take that very seriously, which is why I’m very, very clear I totally disagree with Shane Jones, I will be telling him that, and I will also be asking him to reconsider the way he talks about these issues in the future because I do not believe it is good for New Zealand”.

Ardern said while she had been advised the comments did not have any impact on the trip or New Zealand’s relationship with India, it went beyond that, because it affected our local community.

Advised by Peters? Or by David Parker, who really fudged around questioning on RNZ.

Jones’ outburst came as Trade Minister David Parker and Foreign Minister Winston Peters – Jones’ boss – were in India discussing ways to strengthen ties.

This morning Parker dodged questions from Morning Report’s Susie Fergusson about whether Jones’ comments were unhelpful.

“I’d make the point that when you’re having a debate about population you’ve got to be careful about language,” he said.

Parker refused to say whether the comments were racist or dog-whistle politics.

“I actually get on with Shane Jones well and when I think he’s gone too far I tell him privately,” he said.

However, he would not say if this was such an occasion.

Simon Bridges criticisms are likely to be largely lost in a long list of whinges.

Waitakere Indian Association President Sunil Kaushal said Jones’ comments were racist and Ardern needed to ensure this sentiment didn’t keep being repeated.

“This is a three-strikes-out kind of a thing, you know, she needs to really have a chat with her Cabinet and the leader of Shane Jones’ party that his behaviour is unacceptable in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, diversity inclusive New Zealand. This is not who we are,” he said.

Jones acts like an unrestrained loose cannon. In January: Demands Shane Jones apologise over ‘sexist’ Pania Newton comments. I don’t remember seeing any retraction or apology after that.

Stuff reports that Jones is unrepentant, suggesting that he was mandated by NZ First to “continually” speak about a “maximum population policy” the party intends to bring to the public in the election year – Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Shane Jones was ‘loose’ and ‘wrong’.

But Jones… quickly turned the reprimand into an opportunity to electioneer.

When the Prime Minister speaks, on behalf of the Government, she is never wrong. But my remarks need to be seen through the prism of an MP on an election year,” he told Stuff.

“I’ll take it on the chin.”

Jones said the NZ First caucus had mandated him to “continually” speak about a “maximum population policy” the party intends to bring to the public in the election year.

The details of such any such policy were left vague. Jones said the public needed to discuss what the right mix of character, skills or talent migrants should bring to New Zealand, and how many should come.

He said claims his stance on immigration was racist, or that he was inelegantly discussing the matter was “a perception that I now have to manage”.

It seems to be a perception he has deliberately put out in the public.

And it appears that once again Jones couldn’t give a stuff about ‘stern’ reprimands from the Prime Minister. Being a responsible minister this term seems less important to him than trying to return to Parliament next term.

Another headline this morning to the same article on Jones attack on Indians: ‘This is not who we are’ – PM repudiates Jones’ remarks – but blatantly sexist and racist seems very much who Jones is.

It looks like he, and presumably Peters, are hoping there are enough racists and sexists who don’t feel betrayed by NZ First support of a Labour-led government will vote for NZ First to rescue them from political oblivion.

The problem with alienating various groups is it reduces the pool of voters who may vote for you.

Shane Jones accused of stoking racism and embarrassing Peters

Foreign students have been a significant part of tertiary education in New Zealand for some time, educationally and economically.

The Spinoff:  The vicious hidden message in Shane Jones’ blast at students from New Delhi

On the face of it that might seem like just the usual blast on the xenophobic dog whistle, a sequel to his recent attack on Indian arranged marriages. But Shane Jones is a Harvard graduate, a political whiz, a brainiac. He operates on intellectual plains imperceptible to mere mortals. What if there is something else going on, someone else in his sights?

What if there is someone who is currently on their way to New Zealand after being in New Delhi? Someone who had been there to big up the place of Indian students in New Zealand, no less?

There is such a person.

Before departing for the world’s biggest democracy, this man said he was “seriously committed to strengthening New Zealand’s relationship with India”.

He arrived in New Delhi clutching a glossy brochure called India-New Zealand 2025: Investing in the Relationship.

The document lists among New Zealand’s ambitions: “Support strong growth in services trade by attracting more high value visitors from India, and enhance education opportunities and experiences for Indian and New Zealand students.”

In the document the man in question writes: “India matters globally, regionally and nationally. New Zealand recognises this and is committing to greater investment in the relationship … The Indian diaspora already makes up 5% of New Zealand’s population and is growing. Indian immigrants and students contribute skills and diversity to New Zealand’s economy and our communities.”

He adds: “New Zealand has benefited from skilled migrants, student exchanges, and rapid increases in tourist numbers from India.”

In the light of all this – which Jones, as a voracious reader would have known – is this man the target for this morning’s broadside at, you know, students from India?

It’s not haard to work out who ‘this man’ is.

Northeast Today – New Zealand recognizes India as one of the fastest growing economies: Deputy PM Winston Peters

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand Winston Peters said that his country recognizes India as one of the fastest growing economies with second largest population.

Peters and New Zealand Minister of Trade and Export Growth David Parker chaired the New Zealand-India Trade for All session at Bombay Stock Exchange in Mumbai on Friday.

Peters added that India plays an important role on world stage. He also said that New Zealand is committed to invest more in its relationship with India.

So while Jones is obviously playing to an audience in New Zealand, like…

…it also seems ill-time at best, and has been called out as undermining Winston Peters.

On Thursday, the man paid a special visit to the New Zealand Centre at the India Institute of Technology. According to a local report, he said: “Education is one of the key pillars bilateral relationship between New Zealand and India.”

So who is he? Who is this man who has had a continent of shade cast upon him by Mr Shane Jones?

It is, of course, the deputy prime minister, foreign minister, and leader of the New Zealand First Party, the Rt Hon Winston Peters.

It is also another embarrassment for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has seemed unable to assert any authority over Jones.

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.

 

 

Winston Peters has more explanations than photos

Explanations from Winston Peters over who took photos and video of journalists and gave them to The BFD attack blog continue to change.

He originally said on Magic Talk Radio “we took the photographs”…”to prove that was the sort of behaviour going on”.

He later tweeted a different variation:

“NZF has no interest in following Mr Espiner or any other journalists. The very reverse applies. No private investigators have been engaged to follow Mr Espiner or anyone else. A supporter thought it odd seeing ex-president Lester Grey with Mr Espiner so took a photo. Simple.”

Yesterday he tweeted what appeared to be emphatic, but it didn’t actually refute the “we” and “a supporter” claims.

Let there be no doubt that after caucus today I can confirm no NZ First Minister or MP sent any photos to any website.

I think that no one thought that a Minister or MP was directly involved in taking the photos or giving them to The BFD, so this is nothing but (typical) bluster from Peters.

From NZ First Leader Winston Peters denies his MPs sent covert photos to far-right blog (NZH):

This morning, Peters would not answer media questions about the photos.

Instead, he directed reporters to an interview he did with Magic Talk earlier that day.

“I don’t know anything about it, and I’m not responsible for it,” he said of the photos.

This sounds similar to his claims he knew nothing about the NZ First Foundation but also claimed to know exactly how they had handled donations.

Speaking to Magic Talk again today, Peters said he had “no idea” how the photos and the videos ended up on the blog.

“I’m a busy man, I’m flat out – I’m not wasting my time with this. I have no idea who did what or when.”

So another variation. Of course he doesn’t want to answer questions about this. But fudging and playing music clips and trying to make a joke of it doesn’t reduce the seriousness of NZ First connections to The BFD.

It’s been obvious that Whale Oil and it’s replacement The BFD have been shilling for Peters and NZ First for three years, since before the last election.

Prior to being a Peters promoter Cameron Slater had been a dirty critic of Peters and NZ First. The sudden switch to doing dirty work for NZ First of course raises suspicions of why.

It’s also well known that Winston’s friend, NZ First Party lawyer and NZ First Foundation trustee Brian Henry represented Slater in defamation proceedings and will have clocked up big legal bills of some sort. That raises some obvious (unanswered) questions.

The “dirty Politics’ book provided evidence that Whale Oil was paid to attack a variety of people in the past, and that Simon Lusk was involved both in making payments to Whale Oil, and ghost writing attack posts that appeared under Slater’s name.

Since the journalist photos were used in an attack post both Slater and Lusk have suddenly been named several times at The BFD, they seem to be bragging about finally getting some media attention for one of their hit jobs.

But their ongoing attacks just draw attention to how the core Dirty Politics crew are back in action, how compromised Peters and NZ First are over this connection. No amount of shifting stories and shifty non-explanations will reduce the dirty stench.

The ongoing antics at The BFD, apart from keeping the ‘look at how dirty we are’ in the spotlight’, keeps emphasising their complicity with NZ First, which keeps Peters squirming and ducking.


And on cue Xavier Theodore Reginald Ordinary has just posted again, revisiting Hager and Dirty Politics and attacking media yet again. He mentions ‘Media Party’ more often than Peters did recently.

At least the National party has finally found a willing coalition partner, the Media Party, led by Guyon Espiner with Sean Plunket as the communications director.

All they need now is some candidates and a logo.

That’s very funny from someone who, sort of anonymously, is openly now doing the dirty work for a party that already has a logo and candidates.

Is he out of control? Or is this all with the approval of Peters? Either way it’s a political cluster fuck.