Thursday, September 28, 2006

This is corruption

A wealthy foreign Labour Party backer reportedly offered the Maori party $250,000 if they would support Labour. And there's no question that it's corrupt: Section 103 (2) of the Crimes Act 1961 states:

Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who corruptly gives or offers or agrees to give any bribe to any person with intent to influence any member of Parliament in respect of any act or omission by him in his capacity as a member of Parliament.

Money was offered in exchange for "support", which ultimately means support on a confidence vote - clearly an act as an MP. The Maori Party should name names, and the police should prosecute this offence to the full extent of the law. Bribery and corruption have absolutely no place in our democratic system. Meanwhile, Labour should be cutting all ties with the people involved, and thinking very hard about who it accepts money from in future...


If all the connections can be proven, and they should be investigated, then I agree, a prosecution is essential.

If Labour had any foreknowledge of the offer, they will be in the same (if not worse) situation National is in with respect to the EBs. However if an over-zealous benefactor acted independently they can't be culpable.

Posted by backin15 : 9/28/2006 01:11:00 PM

I agree that its not on at all but technically I don’t think it's illegal because the money was offered to the party and not an individual.

Since it's the parties’ money it would be hard to argue that an individual would benefit financially from it.

The use of parlimentary funds extended to parties in 2003 if it's not spefically stated i dont think you can claim giving money to the party is corrupt

If this was illigal then giving money to any party would be questionable, the BRT and unions give money to parties in return for those parties supporting thier issues.

Posted by red : 9/28/2006 01:56:00 PM

Let's be honest here... how many donations - especially the large ones - made to a political party are genuinely a "donation."

A "donation" meaning an unconditional gift, given with no intention of something being provided in return.

Corporates large and small, religious groups, and wealthy individuals regularly give money to political parties. That this money is called a donation doesn't dillute that it is given with the intention of gaining influence over some policy aspect.

Most donations should be called crimes under Section 103 (2) of the Crimes Act 1961.

Why should this offer to the Maori party be treated any differently.

(This whole comment is, of course, another reason that there should be a serious look at state-funding of political parties...)

Posted by Anonymous : 9/28/2006 02:02:00 PM

Very serious allegations.

But even if this occurred, let's consider the likelihood of the Labour Party having anything to do with it. First, it allegedly happened before the election. Clark made clear, with feeling, that the Maori Party would be the "last cab off the rank". And she meant it, as her post-election move to bring in Peters and Dunne shows. Labour didn't WANT this deal.

Second, if there were a donor with big bucks to throw around, how would a party treasurer respond? Would it be: a) "Offer it to this minor party who we don't want to be in coalition with, who we don't know if we'll need, and whose numbers in Parliament are not yet known anyway"? Or b) "Make the cheque payable to the Labour Party, thanks very much"? That's not a tough one.

And third, even the most rabid conspiracy theorist, who thinks Helen Clark is a monster and the Labour Party are a bunch of evil Stalinist thugs, would have to at least acknowledge that they are not monumentally, unbelievably stupid. Which Labour would have to be to even consider this approach, even for a second.

Still, if we're making allegations, without any evidence whatsoever, I'll join in: clearly this was (allegedly) a right wing plot by a wealthy uber-capitalist friend of Don Brash to (allegedly) make Labour look bad. What, you want evidence for my claims? No, no - you prove I'm wrong. That's how it goes in NZ politics these days.

Simon G

Posted by Anonymous : 9/28/2006 02:48:00 PM


This is one of those serendipitous moments where filthy pinko socialists such as yourself get it right.

Turia should not be protecting this person. It is a very, very serious allegation to make. I actually think that Turia has an enormous amount of personal integrity; I very much doubt she would make up this kind of stuff.

But to preserve her integrity, she needs to name names. It's unacceptable to be protecting this kind of person from public exposure.

If this foreign-based wealthy individual has an additional connection to the Labour Party, it should also be investigated whether the Labour Party had any complicity in this affair.

Posted by Insolent Prick : 9/28/2006 03:06:00 PM

"there's no question that it's corrupt"

I disagree, sort of.

I think you've put the cart before the horse. S 103(2) doesn't make such behaviour corrupt. Rather, it makes such behaviour criminal, if and only if that behaviour is corrupt. The word 'corruptly' is the mental state required for s 103(2) to apply (i.e if a person 'gives or offers or agrees to give' a bribe without a corrupt state of mind they are not committing an offence).

As to whether s 103(2) applies in this case, I'd suggest one problem would be that s 103(2) doesn't have extra-territorial effect.

I'd disagree with red's assertion about the money instead being offered to a party meaning s 103(2) doesn't apply. S 103(2) applies so long as the bribe is offered to any person: the bribe need not be offered to an MP, or received by them - an offence would be committed if money was offered to a charity for the purpose of influencing an MP, for example. I suspect the Maori Party was a legal person

The bigger problem I'd see with the application of this (except insofar as the bribe offered might have been directed at Ms Turia, personally) is that those over whom influence was intended to be brought were not members of Parliament, but candidates for Parliament. I do not necessarily think this would be fatal, however, but it would need some thought.

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 9/28/2006 03:25:00 PM

Calm down a bit, I/S. This is Mrs Turia, who carries a kauri-sized chip on her shoulder.

I'm sure something of the sort happened. But look at it this way: an existing offshore donor to Labour (an expat, probably, and it shouldn't be hard to work out who it is) is inclined to also support the Maori Party, but not if it's not going to support Labour. Doesn't sound quite so sinister when you put it that way.

The met-the-intermediary-on-a-boat thing sounds cloack-and-dagger too - as if it were furtive and secretive. Or, on the other hand, perhaps they were just on a boat when they discussed it. Not exactly that unusual in New Zealand.

At worst, this doesn't sound very different from the far better established "no Brash no cash" ultimatum put to the National Party by the business lobby, which came with very clear expectations as to policy. I haven't seen IP screaming corruption about that.

I agree, though, that it's not good enough for Turia to make this kind of allegation when she won't name anyone involved. Let's have the names, please. I can't see why not.


Posted by Russell Brown : 9/28/2006 03:50:00 PM

Graeme: As to whether s 103(2) applies in this case, I'd suggest one problem would be that s 103(2) doesn't have extra-territorial effect.

Yes; I'd originally written a chunk onthe curious fact that its an offence for New Zealanders to bribe foreigners outside the country, but not apparently vice-versa. OTOH, the donor would be a party to the crime, and if the meeting with the go-between took place in New Zealand (which it seems to have), then they'd be covered by s7.

As for candidates, if offering money to a candidate who isn't yet elected for something they will do if elected isn't a crime, then that would rather defeat the purpose of the statute. And there's definitely intent to influence their behaviour as an MP, even though they weren't MPs at the time...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/28/2006 03:53:00 PM

IP: Labour wants Turia to name names; they'd hardly be doing that if they had a hand in it.

Russell: "No Brash, no cash" is dodgy as hell, and something National Party members should be concerned about - but its not any violation of the law, since its not an act or ommission as an MP, but rather as a member of the Parliamentary National Party they are trying to influence.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/28/2006 03:57:00 PM


Maharey has called for Turia to name names. Clark's off on holiday skiing, Cullen's unwell, and clearly Hodgson couldn't be reached.

If there were a Labour Party directive--and I personally doubt that, because Labour would be just too bloody stupid to risk getting found out--to that effect, then Maharey wouldn't be in the loop.

I don't buy Russell's claim that this is on a par with the alleged "no Brash for cash" position. The Maori Party went to the polls stating that it had no clear direction on coalition arrangements. It was a distinct political party, with a separate brand. Voters did not expect secret arrangements for the Maori Party to automatically join Labour. Turia was right to turn down the offer. It was downright outrageous. This arrangement was not a financial contribution to assist the Maori Party at the polls. It was designed to give electoral advantage to the Labour Party.

There has been some speculation as to who the wealthy expatriate donor could have been. Most people believe that person to be Owen Glenn. I would be very surprised if it were him. Tariana Turia owes it to Owen Glenn to name the person behind it, so that Owen Glenn's name can be cleared. If it is Owen Glenn, then given his links to the Labour Party, the effect of that would be catastrophic to Labour.

Posted by Insolent Prick : 9/28/2006 04:50:00 PM

IP: Labour wants Turia to name names; they'd hardly be doing that if they had a hand in it.

And she's now saying she won't because her discussions were "confidential".


Remember, this is someone who confidently told the press she was being bugged by the SIS. I think we *really* need to know who was involved here - including the "intermediary" - and hear their side of the story. Her refusal to divulge is just unacceptable.


Posted by Russell Brown : 9/28/2006 04:56:00 PM

Actually - I take that back.

S 103(2) does have extra-territorial effect. I'd think: "the person in respect of whom the offence is alleged to have been committed—" was Mrs Turia (who is a New Zealand citizen).

I Should be a little more careful next time.

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 9/28/2006 05:07:00 PM

Russell: there's no question they should name names. This is a serious allegation which demands proper investigation.

Graeme: Is it really though? The offence isn't against a person so much as the administration of justice...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/28/2006 05:25:00 PM

My personal suspicion is that the rumour is a hoax; Turia made the claim with all good intent, but that the third party is less trustworthy than Turia might believe.

I don't believe Turia made the SIS claims knowing them to be untrue. I think it was an example of her personal naivety and willingness to believe it was true. I suspect this is the same case here. The situation just seems to far-fetched.

Turia's credibility is on the line over this. She must name names. It shows an extraordinary amount of naivety to make the claim without being prepared to divulge the names in the first place. The thought that nobody would ask her who made the offer is bizarre.

Posted by Insolent Prick : 9/28/2006 06:20:00 PM


I actually agree with you that Tariana should name names, but you've got to grant me my amusement at the sight of people who were quite happy to swallow Helen Clark's 'somebody told me they know someone who is certain..." Wishart-lite balls for the last ten days are now dusting off their scepticism.

Still, Russell, I wonder what you'd have to say if some expat billionaire (allegedly) offered the Maori Party $250K as long as they'd support NAtional? I'm pretty certain 'corruption' would be the mildest term coming from your keyboard...

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 9/28/2006 06:41:00 PM

Isn't this old news?
why has it come back up again just now?

Posted by Genius : 9/28/2006 06:44:00 PM

I/S: "Is it really though? The offence isn't against a person so much as the administration of justice"

I'd have thought that s 103(2) contained an offence against the administration of justice in repect of Mrs Turia.

genius: "Isn't this old news?
why has it come back up again just now?"

At the election the Maori Party said they'd been offered support if they went with Labour/ refsued to support National; I think everyone assumed it was the unions. That it is now alleged to have been someone who directly funded Labour/ is a foreign ex-pat millionaire etc. is new information.

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 9/28/2006 07:24:00 PM

The old blankets and trinkets ploy seems to have proven a pakeha myth here.

Posted by Neville : 9/28/2006 07:50:00 PM

Or is that DISproven?

Posted by Neville : 9/28/2006 08:13:00 PM

Im interested by the fact that it isn't sold in that manner - anyone might have thought the new news was the bribe rather than a tiny bit of extra information concerning who paid it.

Having said that it is worth investigating. I can see that the maori party would be resistant to bribes and also low value targets (since the maori party is not very compatable with national) So it either implies a bit of misjudgement or a similar offer was made to united future and NZfirst?

Maybe as a strategy to prevent labour from having to use the greens and to weaken their influence?

Posted by Genius : 9/28/2006 08:28:00 PM

OR maybe, less likely, to prevent labour from having to use NZ first?

Posted by Genius : 9/28/2006 08:30:00 PM

Let me see now... I am a very wealthy conservative Christian who plans on donating say ...$250,000... to a political party.

Just so long as they can reassure me that they do not plan on supporting "on-demand" abortion.

Just another plank in the state funded democracy argument really.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/28/2006 10:03:00 PM

I wonder what state of sobriety people were in on the boat when this conversation occurred, and what embellishment has taken place as it was related to others.
Why would any Labour supporter HELP the Maori Party - both short and long term they are a threat to Labour's ability to govern. Especially given Turia's rather toxic relationship with Labour.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/28/2006 11:07:00 PM

I wonder what state of sobriety people were in on the boat when this conversation occurred, and what embellishment has taken place as it was related to others.
Why would any Labour supporter HELP the Maori Party - both short and long term they are a threat to Labour's ability to govern. Especially given Turia's rather toxic relationship with Labour.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/28/2006 11:08:00 PM

Anon: to point out the obvious, Labour's ability to enact a left rather than right-wing program was utterly dependent on the Maori Party.

While I'm sure Labour would rather the Maori party didn't exist, and that they could take the Maori vote for granted again, they do exist, they don't seem to be going anywhere, and thus have to be dealt with, just like Winston, Peter Dunne and the Greens.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/29/2006 12:29:00 AM

It's not obvious to me, I/S. The Maori Party is NOT a left-wing party.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/29/2006 08:50:00 AM

Philip is right. The Exclusive Bretheren bribed the Tory scum with $1.2 million to forward their insidious political agenda – that is the real corruption. Why are we demonizing someone for trying to ensure such things as abortions on demand and same sex unions remain legal in this country?

Posted by Anonymous : 9/29/2006 08:51:00 AM

The really spooky thing is that I don't know if the above comment is a troll or deadly serious...

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 9/29/2006 10:11:00 AM

JTF: well, they're not as left wing as I'd like, but there's a lot of common ground there, and they are clearly more likely to support a left-wing program than NZ First is.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/29/2006 11:51:00 AM

I've posted two interesting reads on the "bribery" issue on:

> LAWS179: Donations to political parties and "bribery"

Posted by Dean Knight : 9/29/2006 03:31:00 PM

It seems pretty comical to me to propose that the maori party would form a coalition with national.

you'd have to have had an extra large dose of the mushrooms to think that.

The worst they might do is to refuse a stable offer to labour.
That could of course hurt labour quite badly if the left came to be seen as "unstable".

Posted by Genius : 9/29/2006 06:49:00 PM

This analysis of the evolution of Maori protest is relevant to the question of the "leftness" of the Maori Party.

See esp.
(iv) The New Right and Cultural Nationalism from 1984

(v) Maori Liberation and the Politics of Identity

A couple of quotes:

"…cultural nationalism and the politics of Maori identity have been the perfect social theory for the upwardly mobile Maori middle class because it presents the interests of Maori in contemporary capitalist society as essentially unitary."

"Historical evidence shows that political movements based solely on the ‘identity ’of the participant tend to lurch from left to right of the political spectrum precisely because they have no real means to achieve their political aims."

Posted by Anonymous : 9/29/2006 08:52:00 PM

Genius wrote:
It seems pretty comical to me to propose that the maori party would form a coalition with national.

you'd have to have had an extra large dose of the mushrooms to think that.

And once upon a time, I would have sent off for a drug test anyone who suggested that Clark would even consider handing a ministerial warrant to Winston Peters, a man she'd spent the last fifteen years treating with undilted contempt. Funny old world, isn't it?

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 9/29/2006 09:04:00 PM

The Maori Party is essentially driven by the flax roots. People not necessarily in work, People not necessarily in money. Having worked its beat, the Maori Party is fueled by commitment on an oil-less rag. The money would have been useful at the time but the Maori Party was formulated to give voice to a Maori perspective - to have accepted any inducement that would derail this purpose would have been tantamount to political and cultural suicide.

The Maori Party need only remain true to its constituent base, the people that experience first-hand the blunt edge of political mistakes.

Posted by Hine Te Po : 9/29/2006 11:57:00 PM