Thursday, March 13, 2014

Citizenship for sale

This smells bad:

A wealthy Auckland businessman was given New Zealand citizenship against official advice after a Government minister lobbied the colleague who made the decision.

Maurice Williamson, the Minister of Building and Construction, and Prime Minister John Key then opened the first stage of a $70 million construction project launched by the Chinese-born developer after he became a citizen.

The following year, one of his companies made a $22,000 donation to the National Party.

I doubt that there was anything like a formal agreement - "$22,000 for citizenship". Instead, its likely to be a case of the person showing "gratitude" to the party whose members helped him to become a citizen. But like the William Yan case, where citizenship was also granted against official advice to a donor (though one with a far shadier record), it smells very bad indeed, and creates a perception that government Ministers are selling citizenship in exchange for party kickbacks. Their refusal to refuse such kickbacks is undermining the integrity of our entire political system.

Incidentally, this means that fully half of National's declared 2012 donors are tainted by corruption (Chris Parkin gave $16,850 and got a government job, and there's another donor on that list who also got something if you care to correlate the contents). Which is why we need public funding of political parties and to end the reliance on private donations: to stop our political system being tainted in this way.