Winston Peters rejects the Greens' call for political parties to receive more public funding; Says there's Chinese influence in the National Party, not Government

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says the recording released by expelled National MP Jami-Lee Ross shows the National Party has a “cash for candidates policy”.

However, he says the Coalition Government “isn’t in the throes of external influence”.

The recording Ross secretly made of a phone conversation he had with National Leader Simon Bridges in June reveals the pair discussing a $100,000 donation by Chinese businessman, Yikun Zhang, to National’s Botany electorate account.

About two thirds of the way through, the conversation goes like this:

Ross: Now there’s no catch or anything to it. You may recall at the dinner they did discuss candidacy, and another Chinese candidate.

Bridges: Two MPs, yeah.

Ross: Colin Zheng, the younger one, he’s put his name in for candidates college and so I assume he’ll get through candidates college and we’ll just make some decisions as a party further down the track as to what we want to do with candidates.

Bridges: I mean, it’s like all these things, it’s bloody hard, you’ve only got so much space. Depends where we’re polling, you know? All that sort of thing. Two Chinese would be nice, but would it be one Chinese or one Filipino, or one – what do we do?

Ross: Two Chinese would be more valuable than two Indians, I have to say.

Bridges: Which is what we’ve got at the moment, right? Your problem there is you end up in a shit fight...

Asked whether the Government would respond to allegations of “Chinese influence” shown through the recording, Peters says: “We’re not responsible for this. The reality is it’s all inside the National Party and it’s clear as daylight.

“We saw that very open discussion. It was seriously racist in its judgement, anti-Indian in its content, but it clearly disclosed that they were contemplating a second candidate.”

Peters goes on to say: “This new government has demonstrated it is not in the throes of external influence in any way, shape or form. We made it very clear. But that’s this government. That’s not the former government.

“Pansy Wong, Jenny Shipley, Judith Collins – I mean, how many more examples do you need.”

Peters also says he doesn’t believe taxpayers should fund political parties “to the degree the Green Party says”.

The Green Party wants “stricter rules on anonymity and increased public funding”.

Its Co-leader Marama Davidson says: “The fact of the matter is, as long as political parties are accepting donations from powerful vested interests, there is a constant risk of corruption.” 

Interest.co.nz’s David Hargreaves made a similar case in this opinion piece.

However Peters says: “The reality is, if you’ve got a consumer demand politically, people out there will back you… If you look at the annual returns for political parties, you’ll see those that are those not getting money and those that are getting a lot of money.”

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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45 Comments

Isn't this the core of democracy nowadays -- the guys with largest campaign fund are more likely to win?

xingmowang. This songs for you. Hopefully it will help you to appreciate all the benefits that you have living here... If indeed you are living here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISWOrI0WaLs

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Free Tibet!

Media sound byte and a convenient slogan, without any knowledge on Tibet's history and how most Tibetans were treated before CCP setting it free.

I teach you a phrase of the day "偏听则暗,兼听则明" -- dull when listen to only one side, while clear when listen to both sides.

Do you want free Tibet so it can go back this stage again???

https://factandtruth.wordpress.com/human-rights-of-tibet/

So, next time when you use this slogan, ask yourself -- do you really give a damn about Tibetan people OR you just want to use it as an excuse to separate China?

Those photos were taken in China.

So after 70 years of benevolent Chinese rule the message of freedom has not got through to those ignorant Tibetan savages? Maybe China should copy the English in India and stay for 200 years befor going back home?

C'mon Nic! It is a fair comment, and a common belief by most people irrespective of their origins. And to a degree i agree. It is through money that many politicians seek to influence the media, who seem to be the most gullible these days as they are influenced by those politicians to print biased BS. Money doesn't just talk, it sings .

But there have been occasions where someone has come from left field and has been able to woo the media and public without having huge amounts of money behind them. The problem with politics today irrespective of the country, people vote on personality, not integrity or honesty, and our own politicians have demonstrated their own self-serving greed many times over.

There is an old saying about power corrupting - irrespective of who or what you believe, the recordings that JLR released provide ample evidence that the National Party have dirty hands. I for one am not convinced it is limited to them.

Totally agree Murray. Cash corrupts and indeed it does control the voices that sing, the media here is already being side-lined into character traits of the participants rather than the real issue which is that at least one party has been bought foreign influence The joy of a democracy though is that you don't get taken away and locked in a cell for voicing concerns about corruption and in a democracy, hopefully the laws should see corruption punished with jail time for the corrupt rather than jail time for those that challenge the corruption.

Totally, the problem with us here is that we are too accepting of our politicians corruption. The majority seem to think they are worthy of their pay and conditions. that the awards system that seems to place ex-politicians at the top is fair and justified. That it is Ok there is no way to sack a Government before the next election, and so on. The media is reluctant to pick up on it and challenge it. So the best we get is voicing concerns which has lots of impact!

Reading the news for last couple days, this tune kept on playing in my head:

It's time to play the music
It's time to light the lights
It's time to meet the Muppets on the Muppet Show tonight

It's time to take on donations
It's time to dress up right
It's time to raise the curtains on the Muppet Show tonight

Why do we always come here
I guess we'll never know
It's like a kind of torture
To have to watch the show

if politician are against it then you are on the right track.

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National has been captured by the immigration lobby for a long time. Its not a new thing.

I think they deliberately created the immigration lobby for the funding and electorate support it added to their party.

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We should throw in a 'cash for honours' scandal as well, whatever would her majesty say?
This is just like history repeating. Tony Blair resigns in 2007. Cash for honours scandal, housing crash, financial crisis.
John Key resigns in 2016, Cash for honours scandal, housing crash, financial crisis.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cash_for_Honours

This sort of thing (and it is far from the only example) makes royalty look very bad. The queen has the Governor general to represent her so he/she should be able to filter out these sorts of abuses. Wait a minute I am forgetting, the government appoints the Governor General - Makes the whole GG/Royalty thing look pretty stupid.

Yes, poor ol' democracy ay? It's getting a real bashing this week. And rightly so. I smell a turncoat.
If we dismantle central govt to the point of necessity, and give that half of their budget to the provinces, you'll end up with good people running the regions. Hopefully. Then every season the regions representatives meet in Wellington to do the central stuff, and play ministers, with each region having a year to be the prime minister (note no capitals). Let's give the power to the people (in the regions) in the hope we can create great regions, with other regions getting better, so that we only have as many ports as we really need, and every region can decide on what roads to be be fixed, and every region can try & control the building of houses so that prices don't get away on us, like they have. Even create jobs with salaries & packages (homes) designed to attract the best people for the region. Every region has its attractions, right?
I know I'll get slammed for this, as the regional standards are currently not that high. I agree. Let's incentivise it. Let each region choose their own leaders in their own way if necessary. As long as the best people are running the regions, then we're all winners. Right?

It's not democracy under fire; it's the National party, and this idea of giving power to regions is thinly veiled anti-MMP rhetoric. Giving more power to the 'regions' is a bad idea because it creates dis-proportionality in election outcomes.

New Zealand has decisively, and repeatedly voted against this type of thing in the referenda which attempted to remove MMP. Giving more power to regions is regressing away from democracy, and increases the risk of gerrymandering too.

It costs a lot for party's to, say, be able to find and fund a group of females with historical complaints in 24 hours - how are they mean't to do this without 'donations' ?

It seems that Melanie Reid at Newsroom has been investigating such matters to do with JLR for nearly a year;

https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2018/10/17/281200/jami-lee-ross-four-women-sp...

Over the past year, Newsroom investigations editor Melanie Reid has been looking into the background and behaviour of former National MP Jami-Lee Ross. She has talked to a number of people who have given detailed accounts, recordings and documents of their close working and personal relationships with the controversial politician.

So why not expose it before now if it's been going on for a year? Or are the press compromised as well? It would appear that the agenda is trying to hide the corruption of the party, have they been purchased with Chinese money as well?

Melanie Reid has been dealing with women who have been bullied and manipulated by Jami-Lee Ross allegedly. There are a number of reasons why you don't go straight to press with something like this, one of the main ones is consent from those involved. I hope you aren't doing a "me-too discrediting".
You know it is possible to see both Ross and Bridges as somewhere on the slimy scale, it's just Ross has moved a bit further along it.

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Other political parties may or may not be influnced by Chinesse money but is evident that National party was and is.

No wonder they turned a blind eye to foreign buyers role in NZ. Infact they promoted and supported it - Now is proved national party's vested interest - though the media was and is silent in exposing national party role in selling NZ to foreign buyers /speculators.

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Yes, I wouldn't be surprised if both the immigration and int'l education policy directions taken under Key's 9 years was designed specifically to improve National's funding and electoral prospects.

There are 7 Maori seats which they have no intention to contest - hence, it has been to their advantage to expand their voter/donations base with offshore recruits.

With this crisis/crumbling of National, I suspect it shouldn't be far off in time that we get a new start up ethnic Chinese political party here. Who knows, maybe we'll have one standing in this by-election? And I'd place a bet on the National candidate being Asian as well.

When you say Asian, you mean New Zealander right Kate?

Yep, a Botany resident. It makes sense given the demographic profile of the electorate to have a bilingual MP.

So when is an Asian no longer an Asian and in reality a Kiwi?

If you/me moved to China, how long before we would be referred to as Chinese by the Chinese - and if someone referred to me as a European could I call the racism card if I had citizenship? (like you perhaps referring to a candidate as Asian and not a New Zealander?) I don't know the answer to this...but just exploring where we're at in 2018.

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Chinese will never, ever, in a million years call you Chinese. You could speak the language fluently and quote poetry from the tang dynasty. Doesn't matter. This goes the same for everywhere in east asia.

'Kiwi' is a cheap indentity, come here for a few years, and it's yours. That's why their loyalty will always lie with china no matter what piece of plastic we give them.

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So why did we buy into National's claims that we can't call people with Chinese sounding names Chinese? Is this racist still racist in 2018? Or is it only okay if its making you wealthy and politically popular at the same time via a housing bubble?

you could say the same for many cultures coming here, case in point how many tongan flags etc round this week and how many are first and second generation kiwis.
I am surmising that it takes longer than two generations before the home country losses some pull, influence call it what you like
how many kiwis of English roots that family first arrived before the 1945 have you heard talk about the home country? or even go ask a Chinese that family has been her since the gold rush same thing.
it takes quite a few generations to become part of the local culture

You are confusing ethnicity with residency/citizenship. In the census, people self-report their ethnicity - as per these stats on the Parliamentary website;

https://www.parliament.nz/en/mps-and-electorates/electorate-profiles/ele...

One can choose "Other (incl New Zealander)" if one wants to self-identify as 'Kiwi'.

It is pleasant to be given the right to chose ethnicity but unfortunately racists think otherwise and it is assigned. The Nazis persecuted people who had been protestant for generations because they had Jewish heritage. Just before the breakup of Yugoslavia many Bosnians identified themselves as Yugoslavs in the census - it didn't stop ethnic cleansing. When I registered by son at school (in 2004) I was forced to select a single ethnicity so he couldn't be both Melanesian and whatever I am. I note the NZ Treasury has published its ethnic brakdown and it adds up to 100%! Generally I prefer not to be asked questions that do not change actions - so by law government bodies are not allowed to provide a different level of service based on a clients ethnicity but they ask it even for something as trivial as membership of a liesure centre.

Not to be misheard as a Resident Botfly.

Just need some sort of filter system whereby those who wish to donate transfer money into a trust account or similar with instructions on where it is to go. Dispersal of funds would have to be done in a way that someone couldn't tell an MP that if they see $99,459.62 it's from me, nudge, nudge

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In reality every Chinese person who has been buying houses in New Zealand the last 10 years has been making a donation to the National Party - I mean the rockstar economy was a booming housing sector was it not and that feel good factor felt by National supporting property investors is what has been fueling the popularity of the previous government has it not?

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Yes totally agree. Nine years of Nationals 'False Economy' and we're all paying the price for it now.

After reading recent reports from the BBC of people regularly going missing in China, I can understand why people are so desperate to find an escape route.

BBC article: China disappearances show Beijing sets its own rules
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-45806904

I can sympathise with Mr Broidges because I too am easily influenced by Chinese that is to say influenced by Chinese food - combination rice and Chinese women, hello Madam Wo!

Not that it isn't a bad look for National, but a bit rich coming from Peters who has ever been a man of negotiable advocacy - for fishing co.s, racing industry, and seemingly the ruskies too (appears Peters will never criticise them no matter what the provocation such as their recent nerve agent attacks, or support of Assad ...).

Problem I have with our current system is, it might be a little more obfuscated - but it's similar in many ways to that of the US - money talks. In order to have a successful political party you must draw in funding and to do that you must have policies that are attractive to those with money.

Hence, when it comes to hard decisions - climate change, housing shortages, social investment in general - parties have to tread a fine line with policies that benefit the moneyed with policies that actually do things that are essential, but also essentially unpopular.

Perhaps it's the party system? What if everyone was an independent? too hard? Does anyone actually think in this day and age that their local MP represents their interests anymore? At best, it's yet more - 'gotta attract more money to my region' - which leads to more compromised decisions and potential corruption.

Hate to pick on a single country, but they're clearly the biggest players at this - China's just gotta love the fact that our democracies are so soft - sure - they can't outright debt-trap nations like ours in the same way they do smaller asian/pacific nations - but they sure as hell have fingers in every pie.

I agree with DavidH to a certain extent - at least the first step here is rethinking the funding of parties - it won't get away from the issue (individuals can still be paid sums into swiss bank accounts of course) - but at least at the party level there wouldn't be an incentive to schmooze the moneyed so much.

You've gotta love a trier - here's Matt Hooten's take on it;

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=121...

Ross's secret recording revealed important leadership qualities. The private conversation was cynical and vulgar, but Bridges was found to be focused on attacking the Government, fundraising, getting value for money from the party apparatus, connecting with Auckland's immigrant community and party rejuvenation. These are exactly what his priorities should be.

Embarrassing that The Herald gave him the platform.

His suggestion Bridges has been "prime ministerial" this week especially caught my eye Kate. Quite a stretch that! And the Herald really ought to disclose his background with the National Party.

you had mark, future candidate for national come out on newshub this morning running damage control, it was so funny it was we this and we that and he didn't realize until duncan called it on him
but even better is the trade me auction for a national list seat and the comments
https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/107949685/wanna-choose-a-national-party...

Indeed they should have - but then how do you explain that affiliation... perhaps

Lead pretend independent mouthpiece and player of note in Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics book.

As an aside, expect Michelle Boag to front the panel discussion on Q+A and/or Newshub Nation this weekend.

Can't wait to see what she'll be wearing :-).

I’d like to see all commentators political affiliations/leanings, including their voting patterns made a compulsory disclosure. The media has had so many go into political party employ and even became MPs that it taints the organisations they worked for, including this site. I’d include education in that as well. The public deserve to know the inherent bias of the people that influence society.

National Party slogan , unsaid but practiced, is "Show Me the MONEY And I Am Your Honey". They could not care two hoots whether its origins are in the murky depths of money-laundering.