In Chapter 14 of The Hollow Men, Nicky Hager notes that the 1986 Royal Commission on the Electoral System argued strongly for full transparency of political donations, arguing (among other things) that this would "give valuable information to voters about the character of the parties". Indeed it would - and reading further, you can see why National is so keen to launder donations and keep the identity of their backers secret: because they accept money from some people that most voters would not want any political party to be talking to: the tobacco industry.
At the same June 2005 fundraising dinner attended by Pfizer and Diane Foreman (both of whom stood to gain substantially from National's policies), two tables were sponsored by Carrick Graham, son of former cabinet minister Doug Graham. Hagar notes:
This may have reflected Graham’s personal generosity, but another explanation could be that the event organisers decided for reasons of good taste not to write down the name of the company – British American Tobacco – for which Graham worked as corporate affairs director. He had arranged Brash’s visit to the BAT head office in Auckland a year earlier, when Brash and MP David Carter met all the top executives.
If this is correct, National had invited BAT to be part of the fundraiser and accepted tobacco industry money for the campaign...
You can judge a person by the company they keep, and you can judge a political party by who they accept money from. And on that basis, National keeps some very bad company indeed, with an industry whose business is selling cancer and death. No wonder they want to keep it all secret!
Right-wingers will say (and have been saying) "it's their money, and they can do what they like with it". Indeed they can - but it's our Parliament, and we have a right to know who is backing our parties so we can judge them accordingly. This is precisely the sort of donation the public has an interest in knowing about - and precisely why we must reform our election law to ensure total transparency and make it an offence to obscure the true source of political funding.