A Talley of NZ First's secret donations | The Jackal

27 Feb 2020

A Talley of NZ First's secret donations

Peter Talley - fishing industry mogul
I really don’t envy Jacinda Ardern’s position as Prime Minister of New Zealand sometimes. She’s probably got the hardest job in the country. Not only does she have to ensure her own MPs are behaving properly, she has to negotiate with Winston Peters and other NZ First MPs who seem to be dragging the Coalition Government into disrepute.

The NZ First Foundation’s funding scandal for instance, which is currently being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office, is making the entire Government look bad! This latest controversy involves, but is probably not limited to, NZ First being caught red handed accepting secret donations, via their foundation, from one of New Zealand's largest food production and supply groups, Talley’s.

On Tuesday, RNZ reported:

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.

First off, let’s make something absolutely clear. There is nothing materially different between the NZ First Foundation and the NZ First political party. They should be treated as the same organisation in the eyes of the law.

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. 
Greenpeace executive director Russel Norman called on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to review key fishing policy decisions, which he said were favourable to the seafood industry, in light of the donation revelations.

Russel Norman isn’t wrong. Key fishing policy decisions should be reviewed in light of the industry making secret donations.

While the rest of us recreational fisherfolk are lucky to catch anything these days, large fishing companies like Talley’s have been allowed to plunder the ocean, taking what most would consider undersized fish in numbers that mean fishing stocks are badly depleted. Most of these fish, including the pick of the catch, are exported at prices most of us Kiwis cannot afford here at home.

On 4 April, 2019, Talley's deposited $2500 into the foundation bank account. The next day Peter Talley personally made a $15,000 donation - one cent under the level at which donations are made public. 
Talley's followed that up with a "fast deposit" of $2000 on 29 July, 2019. 
Peter Talley refused to comment when contacted by RNZ.

It’s no wonder Talley refused to comment. He has effectively been caught out making secret donations to ensure that the interests of his private business trump those of recreational fisherfolk. I mean it's not as if Talley can buy another knighthood.

There’s also the issue of the video surveillance cameras that were meant to monitor workers on commercial fishing vessels. In 2016, 80% of them weren’t working and there’s been no substantial improvement reported, apart from 28 more cameras to safeguard Maui dolphins, since the Government changed in 2017.

Winston Peters - NZ First leader

Peters claiming that he knew nothing doesn't wash when there's now clear evidence that NZ First accepted backhanders. There’s simply no reasonable explanation concerning Talley’s splitting up numerous donations to the NZ First Foundation (who is essentially NZ First) other than to avoid public and official scrutiny.

Joining the dots between The NZ First Foundation receiving secret donations from Talley’s and NZ First favouring their business model is a very simple exercise. It’s literally a straight line that resoundingly shows a corrupt practice and usurpation of our political donations system.

It’s for that reason alone Winston Peters needs to stop playing the fool and answer the mainstream medias questions. Because if he doesn’t NZ First will be judged harshly by the public even if they’re found not guilty in a court of law.

UPDATE: Today, Stuff reported a longer list of secret donors to the NZ First Foundation/NZ First Party.