Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Should Winston Peters be sacked?

NB:This post has been updated
Blogger No Right Turn has called for Winston Peters to be sacked due to violating Cabinet guidelines in accepting a $100,000 donation from Owen Glenn. The other question is this: Should Helen Clark be sanctioned for failing to uphold them?

Parliament's Standing Orders require Members of Parliament to disclose to the Registrar of Pecuniary Interests any gifts over $500.00 - although as Members of Parliament, they may accept political party donations. Peters has stated that Owen Glenn did not donate to his party, but to his legal expenses. But the Cabinet Manual also states that Ministers have to relinquish gifts over the prescribed value of $500, unless the Prime Minister says they can keep them. But that same manual states that the Prime Minister has to approve them first. It also states that Ministers should avoid situations in which they or those close to them gain remuneration or other advantage from information acquired only by reason of their office.

In other words, Peters is not allowed to deliberately set things up in a way that he personally does not know of such donations. He has to be made aware.

The gift from Owen Glenn was to Winston Raymond Peters. If he hadn't taken Bob Clarkson to court ( and lost) he would never have got that donation. Helen Clark no doubt believes that the gift was given to a MP in his capacity as a Member of Parliament, not as a Minister, thus bending the rules. Yet, had Peters not been a Foreign Minister, would he have got that gift as a leader of New Zealand First? Probably not, as Owen Glenn was after an honorary consul position, which Peters, as Foreign Minister, has a part in awarding. That appears to be the real reason for the donation.

It's all very messy, and for our spineless PM to do nothing is merely her politics, because she doesn't have many principles. For her to say that National's Nick Smith also got donations for his legal costs, and so there's nothing wrong with Peters' donation is a bit hollow: Smith didn't get these donations because he was a Minister. Furthermore, unlike Peters, he didn't initiate the court action, and also declared them though a trust. If there was proof that Peters got that donation - not for Ministerial tasks, but in the hope that Ministerial tasks would benefit Owen Glenn, who gave him the money - Peters should be sacked. But you can be sure that Helen Clark won't go looking for proof any time soon.

But will some kind journalist like to ask Helen Clark some questions: Like why Peters does not feel the need to declare this donation when everyone else has declared similar donations - and does she condone this?

If not, what she is going to do about her Minister receiving donations for ministerial work disguised as donations for legal costs?

Does she approve that Peters has not paid gift duty as he must given that the donor is overseas?

What is she going to do about Peter's lawyer not getting Prime Ministerial approval for that donation as per section 2.54(b) of the Cabinet Manual?

If nothing, why not.




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