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National whines about Cullen’s appointment – they should know about cronyism

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When it comes to a repulsive cocktail of double standards, self-interest, and hypocrisy, National is the party that just keeps on giving…

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Listener <letters@listener.co.nz>
date: 25 November 2017
subject: Letters to the editor

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The editor
The Listener

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On 23 November, the Coalition government fulfilled another of it’s election pledges. Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Revenue Minister Stuart Nash announced that Michael Cullen would head the planned Taxation Working Group to look into issues surrounding a fairer taxation system.

National’s political strategist and former minister, Steven Joyce responded with a predictable jerk-of-the-knee;

“Sir Michael is many things but a politically independent voice on taxation policy he is not. Let’s face it, he was Labour’s last Finance Minister and one of the key coalition negotiators for the Labour Party.”

Joyce’s reprehensible swipe at Cullen’s appointment was hypocritical for two reasons.

Firstly, it was National that appointed Cullen  as deputy chairman of NZ Post in April 2009. By November 2010, then SOE Minister, Simon Power, had promoted Cullen to Chair of NZ Post, saying;

“I look forward to working with Dr Cullen to develop NZ Post’s strategy to accommodate declining mail volumes and a challenging financial environment.”

Secondly, when it comes to cronyism, National is hard to beat. Just some of their political appointees include Jackie Blue, Wyatt Creech, Mervyn English, Sir Wira Gardiner, Catherine Isaac,  Judy Kirk, Richard Long, Wayne Mapp, Stephen McElrea, Jim McLay, Belinda Milnes,  Ravi Musuku, Brian Neeson, Kerry Prendergast, , Katherine Rich, Jenny Shipley,   Ken Shirley, Roger Sowry,  and Penny Webster.

One of National’s worst instances of cronyism was the hugely wasteful, so-called “Rules Reduction Taskforce“, which produced it’s “loopy rules report”. Half the “Taskforce”, appointed by Paula Bennett in 2014, consisted of former National MPs such as Tau Henare, John Carter, and former party candidates Mark Thomas and Ian Tulloch. They were each paid $500 a day.

Eventually the “Taskforce” reported that many of the contentious bureaucratic regulations  did not exist in reality. They were urban myths.

Thank you Steven Joyce for reminding us how National excels at cronyism.

-Frank Macskasy

[address and phone number supplied]

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Further on the issue of the so-called Rules Reduction Taskforce”, Green Party MP, Julie-Anne Genter,  said at the time;

“We’re getting to that point where the National government is losing all perspective or sense of touch with reality – when they think it’s okay to pay their former MPs or candidates and donors to undertake what’s ostensibly some sort of taskforce work, it’s really just an exercise in PR and spin.”

That little exercise cost taxpayers a cool $750,000.

Around the same time, the Wanganui Chronicle reported that community NGOs were suffering badly, with several such as Relationships Aotearoa and the YWCA, closing entirely;

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Fellow blogger,  Curwen Rolinson, was also less than impressed at  Joyce’s naked hypocrisy, pointing out on Facebook;

But hold on just a moment. I’ve literally lost count of the number of consultative bodies and even straight-up *Inquiries* that the National Party *quite pointedly* staffed the chairing of with their own people, flunkies, and other such questionable appointments.

I mean, as an example of this – their placing of John Shewan at the head of the group convened to look into slash “dispel” the perception of New Zealand as a tax-haven, for instance, was quite directly a case of placing a fox in charge of a hen-house [Shewan’s private sector activities including quite a spate of tax-“consultancy” and linkages to a series of potentially dodgy international firms in this regard].

Or, worse, the series of appointments of [now Dame – guess why she got the gong, eh?] Paula Rebstock to head Inquiries into everything from Peter Dunne’s ‘alleged’ leaking of materials around the GCSB’s illegal conduct through to the ‘Leask’ affair concerning MFAT information being anonymously passed to the Labour Party.

Curwen continued to strip away National’s faux outrage;

Further, if I recall correctly, the previous National Government’s “2025 Taskforce” on pensions and the like was convened to be *chaired by* none other than arch-neoliberal [and former National Party Leader] Don Brash. I don’t seem to recall the National Party raising any issue with “politically tied” appointments to policy working-group style arrangements THEN…?

What’s different about Cullen on the Tax Working Group, I wonder…?

But when it came to cronyism mixed with  commercial self interest, Judith Collins’ involvement in the Oravida milk company scandal was hard to top, as political commentator, Bryce Edwards put bluntly;

Justice Minister Judith Collins has revealed she had a dinner with the head of Oravida and a senior Chinese government official while in China last year and admits she was wrong not to disclose the dinner last week. Mrs Collins has been under pressure to explain her dealings with the milk company Oravida, where her husband is a director;

Perceptions of corruption, cronyism and conflicts of interest can be incredibly damaging to any government, and National will be very wary of a narrative developing that this administration is infected with political sleaze.

Nothing makes a government look more tired, out-of-touch, and arrogant than scandals that suggest governing politicians are ethically compromised and governing in the interests of the powerful rather than the public.

Judith Collins’ milk endorsement scandal is beginning to have a serious impact on the Government’s reputation. But unfortunately for National, there are a number of similar stories dogging it at the moment, and they all come on the back of previous allegations of cronyism related to the scandals over John Banks as well as the SkyCity convention centre procurement process.

The scandal over Judith Collins and her allegedly favourable treatment of the milk company that her husband helps run has allowed National’s opponents to make some strong attacks on the character of, not only the Minister of Justice, but the whole National administration

By August 2014, the allegations of sleaze, corruption, conflicts of interest became over-whelmingly and Collins was forced to step down from her ministerial roles.

There were many other instances of cronyism revealed during National’s nine years in office. Several resulted in ministerial resignations.

If the appointment of a former Finance Minister to a working group focused on Finance issues (ie, taxation) is the worst that National can throw at the new Coalition government – then it is lobbing damp squibs.

Considering National’s own recent murky history, the issue of cronyism is one where it might be wiser to keep a very, very, very low profile.

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Appendix

A roll call of some of National’s cronies – ex-members of Parliament appointed to various government bodies, organisations, NGOs, working groups, etc;

Blue, Jackie

Creech, Wyatt

English, Mervyn

Gardiner, Sir Wira

Isaac, Catherine

Kirk, Judy

Long, Richard

Mapp, Wayne

McElrea, Stephen

McLay, Jim

Milnes, Belinda

Musuku, Ravi

Neeson, Brian

Prendergast, Kerry

Rich, Katherine

Shipley, Jenny

Shirley, Ken

Sowry, Roger

Webster, Penny

This list is not complete.

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References

Fairfax media:  Sir Michael Cullen to head tax working group, GST changes possible

NZ Herald:  Cullen leaves politics for NZ Post role

NZ Herald:  Cullen to replace Bolger at NZ Post

Fairfax media:  Cullen appointed NZ Post chairman

Radio NZ: National accused of cronyism over ‘loopy rules’ report

Wanganui Chronicle:  Concern over lack of funding for NGOs

Facebook: Curwen Ares Rolinson – 24 November 2017

NZ Herald:  Bryce Edwards – The National Government is looking sleazy

Radio NZ: Collins resigns after ‘smear campaign’

Frankly Speaking: Cronywatch

Additional

Radio NZ:  National accused of cronyism over ‘loopy rules’ report

NZ Herald:  Bryce Edwards – The National Government is looking sleazy

Other Blogs

AmeriNZ Blog:  Is John Key’s government corrupt?

The Standard:  Cabinet Club

Previous related blogposts

The Fletcher Affair – a warning for Labour

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Rua)

Crony Watch!

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 26 November 2017.

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Judith Collins owes an explanation to voters

25 November 2017 6 comments

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National’s narrative continues

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The National Party is continuing with it’s strategy to question and undermine the legitimacy of the  Labour-Green-NZFirst coalition government.

On 24 October,on Radio NZ’s Morning Report,  Bill English questioned whether or not Labour had a mandate to govern;

“ The voters at large probably expected that if you got 44 and a half percent of the vote, you were some part of the government or the big part of it.

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How to hold to account a government that’s been put together in an unusual way.

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Just remember this is a prime minister who’s the first one in a hundred years who lost the popular vote and lost it by quite a bit.

… It didn’t win the vote.

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when an election is lost, a larger party captured the direction New Zealand wanted to go in.

On further questioning, English was forced to concede that Labour had a mandate;

I accept that, absolutely… It’s a legitimate result…

Well, I’ve been saying all year that the… all the other parties put together can beat you on the day. And that’s what happened on Thursday. So that’s MMP. That’s how it works.

On the 10th of November, Judith Collins took up the narrative, questioning whether or not Peters had been conducting coalition negotiations in good faith;

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Collins complained that because Winston Peters had filed legal action against several National MPs and their staff, that this constituted “bad faith” bargaining;

At the time, we were very much convinced on our side there were genuine negotiations going on. But I’ve got to say, it’s not looking like it was quite so genuine anymore.

She further demanded an explanation from the NZ First leader;

“ I think Winston Peters should really explain himself to the public because there were a lot of voters who were disappointed in his decision.  I think New Zealanders are owed an explanation. Was he being genuine, or was it just a play?”

Now this is richly ironic on several levels.

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Bargaining in good faith

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Firstly, I am reminded of National’s legislative changes to workplace collective bargaining in 2014. As MoBIE reported at the time, “good faith bargaining” was watered down to the extent that “the duty of good faith does not require collective agreement to be concluded“;

Before the law change, parties bargaining for a collective agreement were required to conclude that agreement unless there was genuine reason not to. The change means that a collective agreement does not have to be concluded, however parties must still deal with each other in good faith.

The Employment Relations Amendment Act 2014 came into effect on 6 March 2015 and passed provisions in the Bill that “providing that the duty of good faith does not require parties to reach a collective agreement“.

So providing that employers could show they “acted in good faith“, there was no onus on them to conclude bargaining to achieve a collective agreement.

Sound familiar?

It should. It’s what Judith “Crusher” Collins has complained about;

At the time, we were very much convinced on our side there were genuine negotiations going on. But I’ve got to say, it’s not looking like it was quite so genuine anymore.

The richest irony of all; National complaining that bargaining to establish a “collective agreement” for a National-NZFirst Coalition was not conducted in good faith.

“Good faith bargaining” and the “National Party” – not words we usually associate together in the same sentence.

My heart bleeds.

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New Zealanders owed an explanation?!

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Collins was engaging in some loud, toy-tossing whining when she demanded “I think Winston Peters should really explain himself to the public because there were a lot of voters who were disappointed in his decision.  I think New Zealanders are owed an explanation”.

While we’re about who is owed explanations by whom, let’s re-cap on some matters that arose  in the last nine years of National’s governance – and remain outstanding ;

2009 – Paula Bennett releases personal details relating to two solo-mothers, after they challenged the Minister’s decision to cease the Training Incentive Allowance (which Bennett herself used to gain a free tertiary education);

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Not only did  Bennett not apologise  for misusing personal information for political point-scoring – she hinted she would do it again;

 …it would depend on the circumstances.

Paula Bennett: New Zealanders are owed an explanation.

2013 & 2014 – Judith Collins was revealed to have close connections with Oravida, which her husband was also a director of. Collins;

  • opened Oravida’s new Auckland headquarters in October 2013
  • whilst on a tax-payer funded trip to China, Collins had a private  dinner-function  with Oravida bosses and an un-named senior Chinese border official
  • on the same tax-payer funded trip to China,  Collins “stopped by”  Oravida’s Shanghai offices “on the way to the airport” – despite Oravida’s offices being   thirty kilometres in the opposite direction
  • prior to Collins’ dinner at Oravida’s Shanghai offices, Oravida  sought assistance from the NZ Government on Chinese border control problems
  • received donations totalling $86,000 for the National Party coffers
  • received thousands of dollars of donations from other Oravida-linked sources

The perception of a severe conflict of interest where Collins may have mis-used her Ministerial position to further Oravida’s interests remain unanswered.

Judith Collins: New Zealanders are owed an explanation.

2014 – Judith Collins (again) was uncovered sharing information – including personal information, leaks, and gossip – with far-right blogger, Cameron Slater.

In his book ‘Dirty Politics‘, investigative journalist Nicky Hager Mediaworks outlined how Collins had;

  • … discussed details of the Bronwyn Pullar ACC case with Mr Slater and she may have been behind the leak;
  • … fed Mr Slater a constant stream of gossip, for example, anecdotes about Labour MP Trevor Mallard making a fool of himself;
  • … may have been involved in a prisoner transfer requested by Mr Slater, while she was Corrections Minister;
  • … emailed Mr Slater the name of a ministerial services staff member who he went on to attack on his blog.

Collins was also accused of running a vendetta against then Serious Fraud Office Director, Adam Feeley, and working with Slater to destroy the SFO boss’s career.

In 15 August 2014, then-Dear Leader Key refused categorically to  sack or even investigate Collins for alleged mis-use of ministerial power;

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most corrupt politicioan in NZ's history - judith collins

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Two weeks later, she was gone-burger. Collins had “resigned”;

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(Unsurprisingly, Collins was later “cleared” of allegations that “she was working with Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater to get rid of former Serious Fraud Office  boss Adam Feeley”.  Evidently, despite several fifteen minute telephone calls between Slater and Collins, Justice Lester Chisholm insisted that the “Whaleoil” blogger had ” over-embellished” when he sent emails saying Collins was “gunning for Feeley”. Yeah, right.)

Yet, questions still persist surrounding Collins’ dealings with Cameron Slater and people she allegedly tried to destroy.

Judith Collins: New Zealanders are owed an explanation.

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Conclusion

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It is unquestionably the role of the Parliamentary Opposition to question the government and hold it to account. Along with the media (as flawed as it sometimes is), a strong Opposition is a necessary function of a healthy democracy.

But having someone like Judith Collins, who has so many unanswered questions hanging over her, demanding accountability undermines the effectiveness of the Opposition.

Collins’ time has come and gone. She should resign from Parliament altogether and let her place be taken by someone untainted by dubious associations; questionable conflicts of interest; and allegations of mis-use of ministerial power.

Other MPs have resigned for less.

 

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References

Radio NZ:  Bill English faces first caucus since defeat (alt.link)(audio)

Mediaworks:  Winston Peters ‘not genuine’ in coalition talks – Judith Collins

Mediaworks:  Winston Peters takes legal action against National Party over leak ‘plot’

MoBIE:  Law changes to collective bargaining

MoBIE:  Amendments to the Employment Relations Act 2000 (March 2015)

NZ Herald: Bennett gets tough with outspoken solo mums

Dominion Post: Minister defends releasing private details

Fairfax media: Bennett won’t rule out releasing beneficiary details

Mediaworks: Timeline – Judith Collins and Oravida

Mediaworks: Key won’t investigate Collins claims

Interest.co.nz:  Judith Collins resigns after revelation of Slater email saying she was “gunning for Feeley”; Collins denies campaigning to oust SFO Director; Key says Collins had to go

Mediaworks:  Judith Collins cleared of colluding with Whale Oil blogger Slater

Fairfax media: How did Key mislead Parliament?

Other Blogs

The Paepae:  The Judith Collins Chisholm inquiry – Who was actually on trial?

The Standard:  Collective bargaining? Yeah right

Previous related blogposts

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Toru)

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Rua)

Hon. Paula Bennett, Minister of Hypocrisy

“Dirty Politics” and The Teflon Man

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign… (Iwa)

“Fool me once”…

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 20 November 2017.

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Judith Collins – the Gift that keeps Giving to the Opposition?

30 November 2014 3 comments

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From a news report;

Ms Collins resigned before the election after being accused of working with the Whale Oil blog after emails were released suggesting she was “gunning” for former director of the Serious Fraud Office, Adam Feeley, when she was the minister in charge of the SFO.

A report by former High Court judge Lester Chisholm into her actions will be released this week, with some media reporting that it is expected to clear her name.

After the Old Boys’ Network swarmed around now-disgraced CERA boss, and sexual-harrasser, Roger Sutton, with support and to downplay the seriousness of his behaviour – this blogger predicts the following outcome of the investigation into Judith Collins.

  • She will be fully exonerated.
  • The Prime Minister will say he had faith in her all along. (He has already intimated this, “If Judith is cleared that’s great – that would be my expectation“.)
  • Bundles of flowers will be sent to her office (note to florists in Parliamentary precinct: stock up).
  • Cameron Slater will claim full vindication and become even more obnoxious and unpredictable in his behaviour (if that were at all possible).
  • Critics of this increasingly authoritarian government will think twice before speaking out.
  • Collins will be restored as a Minister within twelve months, more vengeful,  and more dangerous than ever.
  • This government will become more emboldened than ever to pursue vindictive retribution against critics.

The report from Chisholm will most likely be a total whitewash.

No one should expect accountability from this government. They will see “accountability” as  weakness, and a third-term government cannot afford to show any hint of weakness.

After all, New Zealanders love ‘strong’ governments. Even Muldoon’s increasingly erratic administration might not have been voted out had it not been for Bob Jones’ NZ Party, which split the right-wing vote in 1984. The under-current from a significant portion of the population that holds irrational, conservative views should never be under-estimated.

It will be a mistake for Key to restore Collins as a Minister. But the pressure from her National party cronies will become irresistible, and Key will have no choice but to eventually yield.

It will not be a decision that comes easily to our esteemed PM. Key is fully aware that Collins’ arrogance – like a certain ex-MP with a don’t-you-know-who-I-am‘ attitude – inevitably draws trouble to herself. The Oravida-China fiasco, where Collins used a tax-payer funded trip to promote her husband’s milk company in Beijing, made unwelcome headlines for the National Party for weeks.

Collins escaped that scandal only by the skin of her teeth, when the Opposition and Media onslaught ran out of steam.

Next up, Collins’ bizarre personal attack on one of the media’s most inoffensive Parliamentary journalists, Katie Bradford, where the Minister made outrageous allegations of impropriety.

Collins eventually had to retract and apologise –  no doubt after an increasingly irritated PM put the hard word on his errant Minister.

Not content to keep her head down, Collins pursued a  secret political relationship with far-right blogger and convicted criminal, Cameron Slater, which, when uncovered in Nicky Hager’s expose, ‘Dirty Politics‘,  was the straw that finally broke the ministerial camel’s back. On 30 August she ‘resigned’ her portfolios.

This scandal could easily have triggered an early election had she held fast and refused to step down. History might have been different had Key gone to polls three weeks before the Nats were ready, and under  Collins-inspired storm-clouds.

A TVNZ-Colmar Brunton poll, released the day before Collins stood down, gave an unequivocal result to the simple question:  should Collins resign?  61% of respondents said yes; 26%  said no, and 13% had no opinion. (That 26% corresponds roughly to National’s core tribal-electoral support, as demonstrated at the 2002 general election.)

A day later, she obliged.

Five days after her ‘resignation’, a Fairfax media-Ipsos poll reported a massive 3.4% jump for National. No doubt National-aligned pollster, David Farrar, had already known that National would re-bound with Collins gone. His own internal polling would have shown this.

But here comes the ‘kicker’. On 5 September, on the same day as the Fairfax-Ipsos poll was made public,  a NZ Herald-DigiPoll, showed another conclusive result for the National Party. The majority stated categorically that they had had enough of the increasingly troublesome,  ‘accident’-prone, Member for Papakura.

Asked if Key should give Collins any Ministerial role in a third term National government, 51.6% responded with  “give her no ministerial role”. (25.5% responded with  giving her a less senior role than she had; and only 12.6% agreed she “should keep the Justice portfolio or a similarly senior role”.)

Those results clearly illustrate the divisive nature of Judith Collins if she is in a position of authority.

Key would do well to remember these facts, even when/if the Chisholm Inquiry exonerates her.

On the other hand, a revitalised Parliamentary Labour Opposition probably relishes the prospect of a politically “rehabilitated” Collins appointed to a Ministerial role once again.

One can only imagine what new cluster-f**k is awaiting in the wings with this woman.

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References

NZ News: Collins report may clear way for return

NZ Herald:  Rennie made ‘miscalculation’ in allowing Sutton press conference – PM

Dominion Post: No Cabinet return for Judith Collins

TV3 News: ‘Do you know who I am?’ – Aaron Gilmore

NZ Herald: I’m the victim of a smear campaign: Judith Collins resigns

TVNZ: Collins says sorry to TVNZ reporter after allegation

TVNZ: Voters want Judith Collins to stand down, poll reveals

Wikipedia: 2002 General Election

Fairfax media: National soars without Collins – poll

Previous related blogposts

Letter to the Editor: Judith Collins

Judith Collins – Minister of Talking Crap

Judith Collins – Hypocrite of the Week

Are Cameron Slater and Judith Collins bare-faced liars?

Additional related blogpost

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Rua)


 

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Collins feeding her trained attack mutt cameron slater

 

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 25 November 2014, at around 8am.

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The slow disintegration of a government; 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5…

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The Nationalmobile

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Where does one start…?

¶  Growing numbers of injuries and fatalities in various industries, caused by health and safety de-regulation in the early 1990s, by a previous National government?

¶  National passing legislation last year, increasing the powers of the surveillance state by enabling legislation for the GCSB to spy on all New Zealanders?

¶  Permitting dangerous drilling practices in our deep coastal waters?

¶ Hekia Parata on education?

¶ The gutting and collapse of Solid Energy?

¶ John Banks/Kim Dotcom/SkyCity/dodgy donations?

¶  Peter Dunne’s  unmitigated mess over “legal highs”?

¶  Maurice Williamson’s attempt to influence/query a police investigation surrounding a wealthy immigrant?

¶  National’s unhealthy relationship with immigrants; big business; and corporate donors-for-favours?

¶  Corporate cronyism for aluminium smelters, film companies, et al?

¶  Judith Collins’ lies over her dinner at Oravida and a mysterious, un-named Chinese official?

 

Let’s start with the last, and most recent; Judith Collins.

It appears that there are three serious grounds for which John Key  has no choice but to dismiss Collins from her ministerial rolls;

1.

Collins lied

On 5 March, Collins stated that she went to the Oravida offices;

To actually have a cup of tea on the way to the airport“.

On  18 March, Collins repeated this statement in Parliament;

“I was being driven around and I was assured by the ambassador that we could pop into Oravida on the way to the airport, or else I could have gone to the airport and I could have sat in the lounge for an extra long time.”

But this excuse was shown to be demonstrably false when then Labour’s Grant Robertson revealed in Parliament;

“Is she aware that Oravida’s headquarters are 30km in the opposite direction from where her hotel and business meetings were held and not on the way to Pudong airport at all?”

On 2 May, documents released to the media under an Official Information Act (OIA) request revealed this email from Minister Collins’ office;
“On Sunday, October 20 [2013], the minister will be having a dinner that will include (redacted name). He has agreed to meet with the minister arranged by Mr Stone Shi, Oravida. The minister would like ambassador Carl Worker and his wife to attend this dinner. A briefing from Mfat will be required.”

The meeting with her husband’s company (Oravida) was pre-planned as far back as 15 October 2013 – the date of the above email.

In fact,  as Vernon Small reported on 2 May, for Fairfax media, there is no way that Collins could have made an unplanned stopover at Oravida, nor anywhere else;

Mfat’s China unit policy officer, Nicholas Clutterbuck, advised that “while the dinner can be regarded as private, the minister cannot make unplanned/uncommunicated travel movements around Beijing during her stay”.
Therefore, Collins told a baldfaced lie when she said she had stopped off at Oravida on her way to the airport  “to actually have a cup of tea on the way to the airport“. (By the way, this is not the first time a “cup of tea” has landed a National politician in dire trouble.)

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Collins is avoiding responsibility/shifting blame

Whilst avoiding taking responsibility is by no means unique to Judith Collins, and is commonly practiced by other National ministers, attempting to shift blame on to her staff is nothing short of the desperate act of a politician whose career is on intensive life support.

How else to explain Collins’ eyebrow-raising comment on 4 May, when she said,
“My office is full of control freaks who want to have all the information they possibly can, and when I found out they’d asked for a briefing I said, ‘Don’t do that; it’s a private dinner. You’ll waste MFAT’s time”.”
Any Minister who is not in control of her own office must be questioned as whether they are fit to hold a ministerial warrant. Either her staff are out of control – or else Collins has lied again. (See #1 above)

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Collins visit to Oravida was a Business Meeting – grounds for dismissal

 

The meeting at Oravida – a company where Judith Collins’s husband is a Director – and the subsequent dinner with a Chinese official, was not a “business meeting” said Judith Collins.

However, subsequent to the non-business dinner, Oravida acquired a quarantine clearance from the Chinese government, and Oravida made a $30,000 donation to National, days later.

But more critical, as revealed on Polity, is an email dated 23 October 2013, which clearly refers to Collins’ meeting at Oravida;

Purpose / objective
To increase the profile of a successful importer and distributor of New Zealand products into China

The email is reproduced here in it’s entirety (courtesy from Polity);

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collins oravida email

 

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That email clinches Collins’ guilt. It is the “smoking gun” that proves Collins’ intent for visiting her husband’s business. The words are there in black and white; To increase the profile of a successful importer and distributor of New Zealand products into China.

This was  the same breach of Cabinet rules that caused  National Cabinet Minister, Pansy Wong, to resign,

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Judith Collins

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Mrs Wong resigned as a Cabinet minister last month after it was revealed her husband Sammy could have conducted private business while on a taxpayer-subsidised overseas trip.

Rules around the perk which pays up to 90 per cent of MPs’ and their spouses international travel, prohibit any private business activities during trips funded by it.

A Parliamentary Services inquiry ordered by Speaker Lockwood Smith cleared Mrs Wong and her husband of any serious misuse of taxpayer-funded travel perks.

The report by former public servant Hugh McPhail found the Wongs breached rules on use of the perk just once by conducting private business during a trip to China in 2008.

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The case against Judith Collins is clear-cut;

1. She lied.

2. She refuses to take responsibility.

3. It is clear that her trip to Oravida’s offices and factory were indeed business-related.

Her position as Minister is no longer tenable. She must go.

 

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Postscript #1

This is the woman who recently took joy at exhibiting an “Iron Lady” affectation by making personal attacks on a fellow Parliamentarian;

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Ministers accused of bullying Turei

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Dear Leader John Key has given Collins “time out”,  lamely explaining,

“She’ll be back by the Budget but I think she should take four or five days.  We work in a stressful environment. There’s no question that Judith made some inappropriate comments and over-reached…”

To which, I reply quoting Ms Collins herself, when she attacked  Metiria Turei;

“…Oh my goodness isn’t she a sensitive little sausage.”

Karma.  In spades.

 

Postscript #2

Judith Collin’s vindictive attack on journalist Katie Bradford (for which Collins has since apologised) is not the first instance of  critics of this government coming under attack by either politicians, or those connected with the government;

July, 2009

Natasha Fuller &  Jennifer Johnston, solo-mothers

Personal WINZ details released to the media by Social Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, to discredit both women after they criticised National for canning the Training Incentive Allowance (which Bennett herself used to pay her way through University).

May, 2011

Jon Stephenson, journalist
John Key derides Stephenson’s research into NZ activities in Afghanistan: “I’ve got no reason for NZDF to be lying, and I’ve found [Stephenson] myself personally not to be credible.”

September, 2011

Nicky Hager, writer, researcher
John Key dismisses Hager’s book, on CIA involvement in NZ military activities in Afghanistan:  “I don’t have time to read fiction,” quipped the Prime Minister, adding that the book contained “no smoking gun”, just supposition, which, “makes it business as normal for Nicky Hager”. (Despite the book having 1300 footnotes to referencing documentation.)

October, 2011

Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury, broadcaster, blogger
Criticised John Key on Radio NZ. Subsequently banned/ “uninvited”  from returning to Radio NZ as a panellist for the Afternoons with Jim Mora segment.

November, 2011

Robyn Malcolm, actor
Criticises the John Key led National government for it’s failures at a Green Party campaign launch, and is, in turn, vilified by the ‘NZ Herald’, and by one-time National Party aspiring-candidate, Cameron Brewer.

November, 2011

Bradley Ambrose, journalist/photographer
Investigated by police after complaint laid by the Prime Minister, over the “Teapot Tape” affair. Ambrose investigated and interviewed by Police. Media office raided. Property seized. Eventually, no charges laid. Government considered seeking costs of $13,669.45 from Ambrose – but eventually decided not to.

March 2012

ACC Claimant, Bronwyn’s Pullar’s personal details are leaked to the media and to a right wing blogger, who has been given her full files, emails, etc. ACC Minister, Judith Collins, and her office are implicated.

November 2012

Dr Mike Joy, environmentalist, scientist, academic. Attacked by both John Key and right wing “media relations/publicist”, Mark Unsworth, for daring to tell the public the truth about New Zealand’s polluted waterways.  On 21 November, Unsworth sent a vicious email to Dr Joy that showed the state of mind of Unsworth to be bordering on unhinged.

March, 2013

Annette Sykes, lawyer, activist, President of Mana Party

When Annette Sykes criticised the appointment of sportswoman Susan Devoy to the role of Race Relations Commissioner, Minister Judith Collins responded with “Annette Sykes is a stupid person”. That’s how National views critics.

May, 2014

Katie Bradford, Parliamentary Press Gallery, and TV1 journalist.  Judith Collins makes allegations to a TV3 journalist, that  Ms Bradford asked the Minister to intervene on behalf of her (Bradford’s) husband to join the police force. This is refuted by Ms Bradford as untrue. Collins later apologises.

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References

TV3: Collins says Oravida visit not conflict of interest

Parliament: Justice, Minister—Statements

Fairfax media: MFAT briefing requested before Oravida dinner

Otago Daily Times: Peters reveals details of tea tape

TV3: Judith Collins takes swing at Press Gallery journalist

TVNZ: Judith Collins to take time off amid Oravida storm

NZ Herald: Oravida gave another $30,000 to National

Polity:  Even more new, damning evidence on Collins

NZ Herald:  Pansy Wong resigns as MP

Radio NZ: Ministers accused of bullying Turei

RadioNZ: Judith Collins to take ‘refresher’ break

Additional

TV3:  Timeline – Judith Collins and Oravida

Cabinet Manual:  Interests of family, whānau, and close associates

Previous related blogposts

Taking responsibility, National-style

 


 

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Judith Collins

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 6 May 2014.

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A Query to the Taxpayers Union – ***UP DATE ***

27 March 2014 6 comments

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Taxpayers Union website banner

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Further to an earlier blogpost where I emailed Jordan Williams, at the Taxpayers Union, regarding Judith Collins’ taxpayer-funded trip to China, where she visited a milk importer (Oravida) of which  her husband is the sole Director…

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FROM:   "f.macskasy"
SUBJECT: Judith Collins
DATE:    Wed, 12 Mar 2014 10:39:48 +1300
TO:     "Taxpayers Union" <tipline@taxpayers.org.nz> 

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Kia ora,

I am aware that your Union recently condemned the cost
incurred by Green MP, Ms Mojo Mathers, in a trip she made to
Masterton to participate in a radio interview on
disabilities.

Accordingly, will you be investigating and commenting on the
trip made by National MP and Minister, Judith Collins, for
her recent taxpayer-funded trip to China? 

Ms Collins' portfolios include  Minister for Ethnic Affairs;
  Minister of Justice; and Minister for ACC.

It is unclear what purpose was served by a trip to China as
none of her portfolios relate directly  to foreign affairs
or trade.

Will you also be investigating and commenting on the
conflict of interest posed by her visit to Orivida - a
Chinese company of which her husband is a Director?

This appears to be little more than a tax-payer funded
'junket' and I await your response to this in the light of
your critical stance taken regarding Ms Mathers' trip to
Masterton.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy

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Mr Williams, from the so-called Taxpayers Union, responded on the same day;

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National puppet organisation

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Several commentators on my previous blogpost suggested that blogs are a part of the media (or “new media”) and that Mr Williams should, accordingly, be responding to my query as if the NZ Herald had contacted him for a comment.

I took note of the suggestions and wrote back to Mr Williams,

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FROM:    "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT:  Re: Judith Collins
DATE:     Sun, 16 Mar 2014 12:37:51 +1300
TO:      "Jordan Williams" <jordan@taxpayers.org.nz>
.
Kia ora Jordan!

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my query, and in
such a timely fashion. That was greatly appreciated.

Regarding your point on the Mojo Mathers issue; I understand
that you stated you did not initiate contact with the
Herald, and that you responded to their query.

As you may be aware, I blog on various issues, including
covering public activities such as Select Committee
hearings; protests; etc. 

I am therefore part of the so-called "new media" of citizen
journalists/bloggers, as your colleague, Cameron Slater also
maintains.

Accordingly, I seek a response from you, on behalf of the
Taxpayers Union, on  National MP and Minister, Judith
Collins'  recent taxpayer-funded trip to China.

It is unclear what purpose was served by a trip to China as
none of her portfolios relate directly  to foreign  affairs
or trade. Ms Collins' portfolios include  Minister for
Ethnic  Affairs; Minister of Justice; and  Minister for ACC.

Considering that none of her portfolios relate to foreign 
affairs or trade, was this trip necessary? What purpose did
it serve, and for who?

What is the Taxpayers Union's response on the
perceived/actual conflict of interest posed by her visit to
Orivida - a  Chinese company of which her husband is a
Director?

Does the Taxpayers Union view Collins' trip as little more
than a tax-payer funded  'junket'?

Does the Taxpayers Union consider the $36,000 spent by
Collins on this trip "value for money"?

I look forward to the Taxpayers Union's statement on this
issue.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy
Blogger

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As at 11.59PM, on 18 March, I have received no further correspondence from Mr Williams, nor from any other representative of the Taxpayers Union. Not even a simple acknowledgement of having received my 16 March email.

It is interesting to note the circumstances surrounding this issue.

I emailed the Taxpayers Union because it had commented – and roundly condemned – Mojo Mathers’ flight from Christchurch to Masterton, to attend a radio interview on the issue of disabilities.

On 2 March, Jordan Williams made this statement on the resulting furore surrounding his remarks on Ms Mathers’ travel;

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This morning there has been some criticism of my comments in a story on the Herald website about a trip Mojo Mathers took to Masterton from Christchurch apparently just for a short interview on a community radio station.

For clarification:

  • The Taxpayers’ Union did not seek media attention on this story. There is no associated press release. The Herald called yesterday evening asking for comment, as happens often.
  • The Taxpayers’ Union operate 24 hour media line for comment on taxpayer issues. Yesterday’s call came through to me and I was asked whether it was value for money for an MP to fly 800km for a radio interview on a small community station. I said it was not value for money when the interview could have been done on Skype as well as the comments that are quoted in the story.
  • I’ve made no comment about Ms Mathers disability. In fact, if the travel was necessary I would not criticise the spending. But answering questions posed by the Herald, on matter which as far as I know are completely unrelated to her disability, is legitimate.
  • Accusations that I (or the Union) sought to go after Mathers are ridiculous. To repeat, we were asked for comment by the Herald who were running the story. The comments would have been the same whoever the MP.
  • Accusations that the Taxpayers’ Union are partisan are also silly. I am proud that the Union has gone after National MPs and the current government for expenses, wasteful expenditure and corporate welfare. Seehttp://info.scoop.co.nz/New_Zealand_Taxpayers’_Union 

On reflection, I wonder why an MP from a party that prides itself for having a low environmental footprint choose to fly to a radio interview that could have been done on Skype. Perhaps Ms Mathers had other engagements in Masterton. If so, that was not the information provided to me at the time by the Herald reporter.

Jordan Williams.

Jordan Williams
Jordan Williams
Author

Note Mr Williams’ statement;

Accusations that the Taxpayers’ Union are partisan are also silly. I am proud that the Union has gone after National MPs and the current government for expenses, wasteful expenditure and corporate welfare

Aside from a handful  of press releases aimed at National Minister, Steven Joyce, most of the Taxpayers Unions public comments seemed to target Auckland mayor Len Brown; government departments (whilst not mentioning their Ministers); and strangely, the Labour Party – which is not even in government.

The Taxpayers Union has not commented on Judith Collins’ trip to China, despite there being glaring questions which demand to be asked. Questions such as why a Minister of Justice/Ethnic Affairs/ACC felt the need to spend $36,000 of taxpayers’ money on a junket overseas.

Mr Williams has not deigned to respond to my queries with a comment.

Yet, he was only too happy to launch into a savage excoriation of Green MP, Mojo Mathers, for spending an estimated $500 to speak on an issue that was actually her portfolio – and which, because of her disability, is  a matter she is intimately familiar to speak on.

One can only assume that Mr Williams does not wish to be drawn into this issue.  The reason is quite apparent.

Jordan Williams is closely connected to the likes of David Farrar, Cameron Slater, and Simon Lusk – all of whom are hard-Right National/ACT supporters and apparatchiks.

Right-wing blogger, David Farrar, is one of the  Board members of the Taxpayers Union. His ‘bio‘, however, mentions nothing about his close links to the National Party,

“David is a well known political blogger and commentator. David also owns and manages the specialist polling agency Curia Market Research and has an active involvement in Internet issues. He is an experienced political campaigner and former parliamentary staffer.

“I helped form the New Zealand Taxpayers Union because I believe that New Zealand needs a lobby group to stand up for the rights of taxpayers and ratepayers, and fight against those who treat them as a never ending source of funds”.”

David Farrar’s Disclosure Statement on Kiwiblog;

“Since I joined Young Nationals in 1986, I have been affiliated to, and a member of, the National Party. I do not regard National as always right, but it is the party which I believe gives me the greatest opportunity to achieve the New Zealand I want.

As a volunteer, I established National’s initial Internet presence in 1996 and have held various roles in the party up until 2005. I have three times been a temporary contractor to National HQ, helping out with the campaign in 1999, and also between staff appointments – in 2004 and 2007 for a total of ten months.”

Other Board Members are;

John Bishop; businessman; columnist for the right-leaning NBR; and authored a “puff piece” on National’s Deputy Leader, Bill English; Constituency Services Manager,  ACT Parliamentary Office, April 2000 – August 2002, “developing relationships with key target groups and organising events”.

Gabrielle O’Brien; businesswoman; National Party office holder, 2000-2009.

Jordan McCluskey; University student; member of the Young Nationals.

Jono (Jonathan) Brown; Administrator/Accounts Clerk at the Apostolic Equippers [Church] Wellington, which, amongst other conservative policies,  opposed the marriage equality Bill.

None of this is mentioned even in passing on the Taxpayers Union ‘Who We Are‘ page.

By now, it should be patently obvious that the Taxpayers Union is little more than a thinly-disguised, right-wing, front organisation for the National Party.

In which case, it would be “counter-productive” of the Taxpayers Union to be criticising Judith Collins’ trip to China. It would be a case of  attacking one of their own.

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References

Taxpayers Union:  A question of value for taxpayer money

TV1: Key puts Collins on warning, opposition calls for sacking

Fairfax Media: Anti-MMP plan leaked

Taxpayers Union: Who we are

Kiwiblog: Disclosure Statement

Finda.co.nz: John Bishop Communicator

Johnbishop.co.nz: Bill English – Minister of Infrastructure

Advisoryboards.co.nz:  Curriculum Vitae: John Bishop – Advisory Boards NZ

LinkedIn: Gabrielle O’Brien

LinkedIn: Jordan McCluskey

LinkedIn: Jonathan [“Jono”] Brown

Newswire.co.nz:  ‘Not up to church to dictate on gay marriage’

See Also

NZ Herald:  John Drinnan – High-risk PR strategy flies

Sciblogs: Jesus heals — but not cancer! [Equippers Church]

Previous related blogposts

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Rua)

A Query to the Taxpayers Union

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 19 March 2014.

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A Query to the Taxpayers Union

20 March 2014 5 comments

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Oravida - Cartoon-Rod-Emmerson-GIF

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A comment by Sally Randell, on The Daily Blog, raised this interesting point;

Why was Judith Collins in China anyway?

She is justice Minister, not trade minister.

Cheers, coz I can’t find it via google

Which is intriguing. Ms Randell is quite correct; Collins has no portfolios that would necessitate an expensive tax-payer funded trip – complete with a coterie of staffers – to travel thousand of kilometres to China. Airline fares. Plus hotel accomodation. Plus meals.

This would have cost thousands of taxpayer’s dollars.

How many hungry children; endangered species protection;   or hip operations could this money have paid for?

Accordingly, I wrote to the Taxpayers Union on this matter;

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FROM:   "f.macskasy"
SUBJECT: Judith Collins
DATE:    Wed, 12 Mar 2014 10:39:48 +1300
TO:     "Taxpayers Union" <tipline@taxpayers.org.nz> 

.

Kia ora,

I am aware that your Union recently condemned the cost
incurred by Green MP, Ms Mojo Mathers, in a trip she made to
Masterton to participate in a radio interview on
disabilities.

Accordingly, will you be investigating and commenting on the
trip made by National MP and Minister, Judith Collins, for
her recent taxpayer-funded trip to China? 

Ms Collins' portfolios include  Minister for Ethnic Affairs;
  Minister of Justice; and Minister for ACC.

It is unclear what purpose was served by a trip to China as
none of her portfolios relate directly  to foreign affairs
or trade.

Will you also be investigating and commenting on the
conflict of interest posed by her visit to Orivida - a
Chinese company of which her husband is a Director?

This appears to be little more than a tax-payer funded
'junket' and I await your response to this in the light of
your critical stance taken regarding Ms Mathers' trip to
Masterton.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy

.

Ms Mathers’ trip cost taxpayers an estimated $500-$600.

Collins’ junket reportedly cost us $36,000.

It’ll be interesting if Jordan Williams lays into Judith Collins with the same gusto he did with Green MP, Mojo Mathers.

What are my chances?!

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*** Up date ***

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Evidently my “chances” weren’t too flash.

This was Jordan Williams’ response to my query to him;

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Jordan Williams - 12.2.14

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Hi Frank,

We commented on Mojo as a result of the Herald calling us and 
asking for such.  Of course we will do the same if asked.

Regards

Jordan Williams

Executive Director  |  New Zealand Taxpayers' Union Inc.

.

So… I take it from Mr Williams’ reply that we will not be hearing from the Taxpayers’ Union unless the media asks them to comment?  And if the media doesn’t make any requests for comment – we’ll never hear from them at all, ever again?

I do believe Jordan Williams has just demonstrated – with crystal clarity – the pro-National partisanship of his “Taxpayers Union”.

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References

TV1 News:  Key puts Collins on warning, opposition calls for sacking

Related

The Daily Blog – Chris Trotter: Dispelling The Negatives: Judith Collins refuses to cry over spilt milk

Previous related blogposts

“It’s one of those things we’d love to do if we had the cash”

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Rua)

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Op Shopping by Tolley and Collins

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 13 March 2014.

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National’s fund-raising at Antoine’s – was GST paid?

17 March 2014 6 comments

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Key not talking about fundraising dinner

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On TV3’s The Nation, Key steadfastly refused to make public  the names of donors to various fund-raising events (or pay back) at Antoine’s restaurant in Parnell, Auckland.

Instead of using a Trust, where the names of donors are kept hidden, in this case Antoine’s Restaurant – whose owner is a well-known National Party supporter, Tony Astle – was the “bag man” who took the money; banked it; and then passed it on to the National Party as a donation. These donations were recorded with the Electoral Commission for 2010*and 2011*.

However – and here’s an interesting questing question that few (if any) have asked; was GST paid  by Mr Astle on any of the monies ($60,000 and $105,000) received in payment for the meals?

A donation made directly to a political Party does not incur GST. But  Inland Revenue (IRD) is quite clear of what constitutes a donation;

A donation is an unconditional gift only if the giver receives nothing in return.

But these monies were received from people attending the dinner and who paid for their meals accordingly. They received a ‘goods’ and ‘service’ in return for payment.

It is no longer an “unconditional gift”.

So those meals should have incurred GST.

(What Mr Astle then does with those monies, excluding GST,  is his business, and he subsequently gifted it to the National Party as a donation.)

Accordingly, I have made an inquiry with Inland Revenue on this matter;

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Inland Revenue - Te Tari Taake.

Information about a business

Business or trade name: Antoine’s Restaurant
Business IRD/GST number: Not provided
Address – business: Street: 333 Parnell Road
Suburb, city or town: Parnell, Auckland
Phone number: (09) 379 8756
Mobile number: Not provided
Description of the business: restaurant
Provide your detailed information:

Kia ora Mr Taxman, It has recently been revealed in the media that Antoine’s Restaurant in Parnell, Auckland, hosted a series of fund-raising dinners on behalf of the National Party.

One dinner event, in 2010, was attended by 21 people, where each person paid $5,000 to participate in the meal. The restaurant collected $105,000 from attendees.

Another event, in 2010, a sum of $60,000 was paid to the restaurant for a similar event. Considering that the monies paid was for a meal; paid to Antoine’s directly; this appears to have been a good and service provided to paying members of the public.

Was GST paid on these transactions?

Regards,

-Frank Macskasy

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You’ve successfully submitted your information.

Your information was received on Sunday, 9 March 2014 2:24:30 PM NZDT. This form is now completed.

Your reference number is: 208194.

It remains to be seen if Mr Astle paid GST on payments received for those meals. If 21 people paid $5,000 each, that comes to $105,000.

GST on that sum (in 2010), at 12.5%, would have amounted to $13,125.

Yet, the Donations Return for 2010 clearly shows that the full amount of $105,000 was transferred from Antoine’s/Astle to the National Party. No deduction has been made for GST.

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* Interesting Note:

The 2011 Party Donations Return for National also includes two payment by Oravida;

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Antoines Oravida donations 2011

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This is the same Oravida that National Minister, Judith Collins, recently visited in China – and of which her husband is a Director. Other donors on this Return also have links to Oravida.

The 2010 National_Party_donations Return also included a donation by one, Susan Chou, who is also connected to Oravida,

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Susan Chou donation 2010

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When it comes to ‘tricky’ – National excels with undisputed mastery of Big Time Tricky.

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References

TV3: Key not talking about fundraising dinner

NBR:  Key under fire for Antoine’s donations

Electoral Commission:  New Zealand National Party donations 2011.pdf

Electoral Commission: National_Party_donations_2010.pdf

IRD: Business income tax

TVNZ:  Judith Collins defiant amid claims of conflict of interest

Previous related blogposts

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Rua)

Other blogs

No Right Turn:  “Out of the blue”

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John Key - merril lynch

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 10 March 2014.

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