Monday, September 22, 2008


Judgement of the Privileges Committee on Winston Peters [PDF]:

We recommend by majority that the Rt Hon Winston Peters be censured by the House for knowingly providing false or misleading information on a return of pecuniary interests (p. 19).

We recommend by majority that the Rt Hon Winston Peters be ordered to file, within seven days of the House so ordering, amended returns for the years ended 31 January 2006, 2007, and 2008 covering any gifts, debts, or payments in kind that he has not previously registered (p. 20).

We recommend unanimously that the Standing Orders Committee review the Standing Orders relating to pecuniary interests (p. 20).

We recommend unanimously that the Clerk of the House of Representatives enhance the support available to the Registrar of Pecuniary Interests in order to provide an authoritative source of advice for members making returns of pecuniary interests (p. 21).

It may have been by majority vote, but it was also the right decision. Any member of the public would understand that having someone else pay your legal bills on your behalf (or indeed, act as your lawyer for free) is a gift and should therefore be disclosed in the annual return. Peters didn't disclose it. Even if you believe his version of events, he didn't make an honest effort to ascertain whether he needed to, despite knowing that people were paying such bills on his behalf. This was a clear violation of Standing Orders (not to mention Ministerial guidelines); his censure is thus entirely appropriate.

Typically, Winston is unrepentant to the end. And sadly, Labour is backing him all the way. Which is a good reason to be contemptuous of them as well. Some things are more important than politics, and political transparency is one of them. Sadly, Labour seems to have forgotten that. And they deserve everything they get from the public as a result.