The Jackal: July 2022

23 Jul 2022

Winston Peters - Arsehole of the Week

Politics in New Zealand isn’t in a very good place at the moment. Not only do we have the opposition once again undermining our response to the Covid-19 pandemic, right when the number of cases are exploding, we also have former MPs thumbing their noses at the law and claiming that they’re exonerated simply because a judge has failed in his judicial duty.

Yesterday, 1 News reported:

NZ First Foundation donations accused found not guilty

The pair were charged with obtaining by deception and faced a three week trial in the High Court at Auckland.

The Serious Fraud Office revealed details of $750,000 given to the New Zealand First Foundation - a separate entity to the New Zealand First party.

It alleged the men had fraudulently obtained the money.

Through the trial, the court heard from over 40 witnesses about how the foundation had been set up, and from donors who at times said they didn't realise they weren't donating directly to the New Zealand First party itself.

The money had been used for items like a campaign office space on Lambton Quay in Wellington, a software system and an appearance fee for boxer Joseph Parker at a party conference.

The SFO alleged the funds were kept secret from party leader Winston Peters and the board.

Winston Peters then appeared on 1 News admitting that he knew all along about what the NZ First Foundation was up to, after previously claiming he didn’t know.

Justice Jagose released his reserved decision today.

He ruled the money was not a party donation, where the money needs to have been donated to any person who is involved in the administration of the affairs of the party.

The donors obviously believed that the money they were donating was going to the NZ First party. If it was not a party donation, then the accused were misleading donors and therefore committing fraud.

However most of the $750,000 donated was used by the NZ First party and should therefore have been declared. It wasn’t, and therefore the NZ First party is in breach of the Electoral Act 1993, which states:

Party donation means a donation (whether of money or of the equivalent of money or of goods or services or of a combination of those things) that is made to a party, or to any person or body of persons on behalf of the party who are involved in the administration of the affairs of the party.

Obviously somebody working in an organisation set up to accept donations on behalf of a political party should be considered an administrator of the affairs of that party. This is particularly the case when the leader of that party, Winston Peters, has now admitted to knowing that the NZ First Foundation was accepting donations on behalf of his political party.

The Foundation was also misleading donors into believing that their donations were going directly to the NZ First Party. These donors didn’t need to formally complain about being misled, as the defense argued, for this to be considered fraud.

That’s what makes Justice Jagose’s decision here so perplexing! He didn’t bother to get Peters on the stand to either admit his knowledge or commit pergury. If he committed pergury then the accused would have been found guilty. If he admitted the truth under oath then NZ First would need to be charged under the Electoral Act. Instead Jagose failed in his duty and misinterpreted the law, which has clearly allowed for an incorrect ruling to be made.

This travesty of justice has also allowed Peters the chance to again grandstand, even though NZ First, via their foundation organisation, clearly accepted and hid substantial donations from wealthy individuals, bribes that were given in order to influence the Government’s decision-making process.

So while Winston Peters is gloating, New Zealand is still suffering because of his corruption.

Unfortunately the lynch pin position he held in the previous Government meant that Peters was able to strong-arm Labour into forgoing a Capital Gains Tax, which undoubtedly made the housing crisis exponentially worse. Since then entry level property has become twice as expensive, ensuring that the Kiwi dream of owning a house is just unattainable dream for many. Peters was also able to keep cameras off commercial fishing vessels, which ensured the fishing industry were allowed to continue in their dangerous and environmentally damaging fishing practices.

Many people in New Zealand are worse off because of Winston Peters, which in my book makes him a complete arsehole!