Richard Prebble spoke on Radio NZ this morning about Winston’s pickle. It’s well worth listening to.
I listened to it and made some quick notes.
- Nothing wrong with political figures seeking donations, for campaigns and legal cases
- He bought a court case that went to the Supreme court where he setup a blind trust fund – he didn’t know and still doesn’t know (except for his brother) who put money into it and how much. It may have been as high as $80,000
- Today this would have to be declared under the members’ register of interests which didn’t exist at the time even though Richard was quite public with what he was doing
- The donations Winston is getting are not illegal
- He is in “terrible trouble” because the register is part of the cabinet manual which declares itself (“starts off” with this actually) to be part of the constitution of New Zealand
- The manual makes clear that the obligations of a cabinet minister are higher than those for an MP, and incorporates the requirement of the members register
- You must declare any debt that you have that hasn’t been paid in 90 days
- Assuming he hasn’t paid that debt, it should have been recorded and has not been.
- Under Gifts, they must be declared: if they are anonymous you actually have to find out where they came from.
- Once you discover you have made a false declaration, you are under obligation to correct it immediately – not when you get back from Singapore.
- Winston says he’s going to “chat to the speaker” when he returns, but the speaker is not the person he should be talking to at all – it has to be filed with the registrar
- He has known since last Friday to correct this and has not
- The PM can’t actually sit back – she actually has the obligation to discuss the return with him every year. If he didn’t tell her about these matters he’s in trouble, if he did discuss it and she told him to file a false return she’s in trouble too.
- The AG is under an obligation to make sure the register is correct too
- Richard Prebble considers Winston’s position untenable