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An SFO investigation saw him stand down in 2008, but Winston Peters says this time it's different; Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says he deserves 'natural justice'

An SFO investigation saw him stand down in 2008, but Winston Peters says this time it's different; Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says he deserves 'natural justice'

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is continuing to defend Winston Peters, despite coming under renewed pressure to stand him down from his ministerial duties, as the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) confirms it will investigate the New Zealand First Foundation.

The SFO made the announcement on Tuesday, following the Electoral Commission on February 10 saying it believed donations made to the foundation should’ve been treated as party donations. The Commission referred the matter to the Police, which passed it on to the SFO.

Peters stood down as Foreign Affairs Minister in August 2008, under then-Prime Minister Helen Clark, as soon as the SFO confirmed it had enough evidence to investigate a donations scandal related to New Zealand First.

Reaching this same pivotal point on a different matter, nearly 12 years later, Peters is refusing to step down as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Disarmament and Arms Control, State Owned Enterprises and Racing.

Peters effectively told media the difference between the two situations was that this time it was the New Zealand First Foundation, not him personally, being investigated.

“If the Electoral Commission didn’t speak to me, why would I do that [stand down]?” he said.

“[Last time] they said they were investigating me, I stood aside and got it cleared by three official bodies.”

Peters has, from the start of this scandal, distanced himself from the foundation. Last Tuesday he said: “I don’t expect that anyone at the SFO is going to be talking to Winston Peters. Guess why? I was not involved in any way, shape or form.”

Ardern won’t intervene, sticking to her line that this is a party matter for New Zealand First.

She also said Peters deserved "natural justice".

According to the latest 1 News Colmar Brunton Poll, done earlier this month, Labour and the Greens wouldn’t have enough seats to govern if there was an election tomorrow.

Polling at only 3%, New Zealand First wouldn’t get into Parliament without winning an electorate seat. New Zealand First MP Shane Jones will run in Northland, where the party has done much spade work in recent years, allocating a substantial amount of Provincial Growth Fund funding to projects in the area.

Grilled by Opposition Leader, Simon Bridges, during question time in Parliament, Ardern said she believed Peters was both upholding and was seen to uphold the highest ethical standards as required by the Cabinet Manual.

She also accepted that ultimately ministers are accountable to the prime minister for their behaviour, as per the Cabinet Manual.

Ardern then hit back at Bridges, saying: “I image the public right now sees the deep irony of this line of questioning from the National Party.”

The Serious Fraud Office is prosecuting four individuals (who have name suppression) in relation to National Party donations.

The investigation came after former National Party MP, Jami-Lee Ross, accused Bridges of asking him to collect a $100,000 donation from businessman, Yikun Zhang, and then split it up into smaller amounts to hide it. 

There are now media reports the investigation involves a second $100,000 donation.

Bridges said neither him nor the National Party had been charged. 

Peters, leaving the House on Tuesday, had this message for the media:

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27 Comments

The only reason J Ardern is defending W Peters is because she thinks she will need his support come election time

She doesn't. She could say he's crossed a line, call a snap election and rule out working with him. They dip below 5% and then she can do a deal with the Greens. But why isn't she? That's the really fascinating thing here. This is no longer politically expedient. She has options and isn't using them. Why.

Because she understands that NZrs are very leery of a Labour/Greens only government. If it is being said that WP & NZF cannot be managed by Labour then what the heck will happen if the Greens assume that position unbridled and charging full on out of left field. I would wager the whole nation would be in an uproar within 6 months. Labour themselves probably understand how impossible the Greens might become and how catastrophic that would be for them in the long run. And yes WP has foot tripped himself similarly before but our law does not consider that as forming part of the current enquiry. At this point NZF are, just like National in these same sort of circumstances, not guilty and it may well remain as such. But going back to the first line, if NZ ends up with a Labour/Green government, then God Defend New Zealand. Nothing much else will.

Will the real PM please stand up?
I repeat, will the real PM please stand up?
We're gonna have a problem here.

Soon, the legitimacy of any elected government in New Zealand will be questioned because of incapability and inability of governing.

An elected government or government coalition DOES NOT equal to GOOD governance.

In this decade, interesting things will take place.

In a democracy questioning your government is what should you do all the time. It is kind of fundamental to the whole system. Problems occur when you ever stop questioning any government.

Well, a non-elected government has zero legitimacy because it holds no accountability to citizens. A democratically elected government will never have "good" governance. As long as there is a freedom of expression, it will always face citizens' scrutiny, and part of the population will always dislike it.

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Obfuscation, ducking and diving and flip-flopping has become Taxinda's legacy throughout her term .

Just look at ;-

Kiwibuild
CGT
Transport woes
Roading
Mental Health
Nurses salaries
Teachers salaries
Poverty reduction
The so -called Housing 'crisis"
Getting tough with the Aussies who are sending our crims back
Getting tough or soft on Gangs and crime
No clear policy on drugs and their use

As for Winston, he knows he is unassailable, and is now as emboldened as Donald Trump ....... they both do as they please knowing there are unlikely to be any consequences

I do not mean to offend anyone but putting an inexperienced woman in her 30s as a leader of a country is simply irresponsible.

Xingmowang, I think you're missing something here. She is eminently likable and would even now trounce National in a straight fight if she called a snap election and said she's had enough of Winston's bullshit. The question is why won't she? She is just taking hit after hit and so are the Greens in their complicit silence. It's past the point where it makes any political sense. What does he have on her?

Thanks for your question GV, an answer would be much more valuable...

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Good question GV 27.
I dont agree with the eminently likeable. Sort of. I mean she seems likeable. Its hard to dislike her. She once notably said she didnt lie. Her opponent Bill said...yes well sometimes I have to. Guess who lied. I really dont like liars. So guess what I dont trust her. She is shifty. And I am thinking you are right. Winnie has something on her.

Would they beat National though. Last I saw Green+Labour was less than National+ACT. Assume we cut Winnie out entirely. Then National and ACT form a minority Government.

Jacinda is hardly going to go for that outcome.

Correct, I don’t think this election is in any way a given. Winston could easily miss out after alienating his right wing support base last election. Or he could get more votes as the party that stabilises the watermelon. Or national could offer massive tax cuts that no one can turn down. Anything could happen.
Anecdotally it does feel as if the coalition are a bit more popular around the water cooler after recent news of improved economy (or should I say raising house prices), and after making infrastructure investments (or should I say subsidising roads)

I don’t think you needed to mention that she is a woman. Even if you are sexist I really can’t imagine why you would think she can’t be a good leader because she is female.
As for her age there are positives and negatives of young leaders. They definitely have much more of a can do, less negative attitude. I’m sure she has enough oldies in cabinet to guide her if she is lacking experience.
I bet if she was instead a young highly regarded right wing go getter male you wouldn’t have any problems.

If she had done anything of substance pre PM it would be a different story. But she had essentially no management or other useful skills-building work experience, had been fairly lacklustre in her 3 terms and judging from her proposed private members bills as an opposition MP was lightweight/lazy.
More likeable than Little and better at emoting in front of a camera is about the extent of her abilities - as has been born out by the managerial vacuum that has existed during her tenure.

very murky, not one but two parties Beeeeennnnnding the law,
makes you wonder if the greens and labour are squeaking clean or if they too bend
as for ACT everyone knows who funds them so no news there.
it used to be a lot more covert ,
jobs for ex Mps or cushy assignments overseas who can remember "Pacific Economic Ambassador"
now its just pay the cash

Where was this sudden concern for natural justice when Winston was crowing about there "only being one political party under investigation by the SFO" when the Nats had their donations wobble? Did she pull him up on it and explain that National deserved natural justice? Can't recall that tbh. Surely I've just forgotten.

@GV27 .as a child we played this game of cow -dung throwing , one person had to run as fast as he or she could past the back wall of the milking shed , and you tried to hit them, throwing dung .

Well , I did not like this game very much at all , while some of it stuck on the person running , you often ended up with dung all over yourself as well , fresh cowpats are soft and runny .

It was Winston who has been stirring and driving the Jamie-Lee Ross/ National fiasco , throwing dung all over the place

Now some of the same dung has stuck to him

Could not have happened to a nicer chap

That reminds me of my mother telling me that when she was first at school, so we are talking 1920 or so, a slightly older boy asked if she wanted to know a dirty trick to play on someone. Well of course she got the answer anyway and that was, fill your mouth with hot shit and blow it on them.

I thought the SFO was currently dealing with National's "wobble" - in fact now 2 wobbles.

Indeed. No mention of pots or kettles anywhere else on this thread.

dont try to confuse them with facts,the pitchfork mob has been formed.

So, so tired of Winston's shenanigans. Malignant narcissistic twerp that's been farming confused old dearies for decades. May he sink without a trace.

"Instead of answering media questions, he played Queen’s ‘Radio Ga Ga’ before walking off."

Protons will decay, black holes will evaporate; heck even the Kaeo Bridge will be built before Winston will answer a question.

Trial by media. The simple people want to come to conclusion before any formal process has been completed.
If Winston is guilty beyond a doubt then hang him with the same rope Simon Bridges was hung with. Oh wait. He knew nothing. He did nothing wrong. I don't reminder the National Party standing him down.The Electral Commission is unable to determine what the situation is so has referred to the SFO. So judgement has not yet been passed. Jacinda is doing the correct thing here.

And now we see there was a second $100k donation issue, six months before the JLR phone call...

Perhaps why no one sounded very surprised in the audio recording of that phone call?