Sunday, August 31, 2008

Question Five revisted

Remember Question #5 last Tuesday? Yep, THAT question! Refresh your memory from this (here's the link to the full transcript). Having watched a certain video tonight, it's all starting to make a whole lot more sense...

5. RODNEY HIDE (Leader—ACT) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by her answer given in oral question No. 4 from the Rt Hon Winston Peters on 10 April 2003 that “This Government does not tolerate corruption. Any allegations are investigated.”?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister) : Yes.

Rodney Hide: Will the Prime Minister therefore assure the House that the Serious Fraud Office will be able to assess and investigate, unimpeded, the claims of corruption by a businessman, repeated on several occasions to Dominion Post reporter Phil Kitchin, that this businessman was one of several people to whom Peter Simunovich gave $9,999.95 in 2002, to pass on to New Zealand First in exchange for Winston Peters’ “shutting up about his allegations of wrongdoing against Simunovich Fisheries”, and that “Sure enough, within a couple of weeks Winston Peters did shut up.”, and that the man’s statement and details were provided last week to the Serious Fraud Office, and that the businessman himself was concerned for his personal safety?

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. You have just heard a very serious allegation from a member who, typically, failed to name anyone other than one company. But the critical person is the one he claims to be a businessman, whose life is under threat, apparently—unless it is from Rodney I cannot imagine from whom. But, I want to know, is that a fair question in this House?

Madam SPEAKER: Well, unfortunately, yes, from time to time allegations are made, and that question falls into that category that is permitted under the Standing Orders.

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The relevant question to me was “Can such allegations be fully and independently investigated?”, and the answer is, of course, yes.

Madam SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Rodney Hide. Oh, point of order, the Rt Hon Winston—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: No, I want to ask a supplementary question.

Rodney Hide: Well, you can take your turn.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: It is my turn.

Madam SPEAKER: Would you both sit down, otherwise you will both leave the Chamber and no one will be asking the question, which will solve the problem. Be seated. I called Rodney Hide before I saw the Rt Hon Winston Peters, so I will call Rodney Hide and then we will take the Rt Hon Winston Peters’ question.

Rodney Hide: Does the Prime Minister think it a good look for her Government to be abolishing the Serious Fraud Office just as it is assessing the complaint made by a former business associate of Peter Simunovich that her Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Peters, went to see Peter Simunovich to show him the evidence of corruption he had against Peter Simunovich and stated that through a payment of $50,000 “we would just slowly get rid of it”, or will she just keep accepting her Minister of Foreign Affairs’ word that he has done nothing wrong—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. We are not going to truly have some sort of half-baked Serious Fraud Office inquiry inside this House conducted by “Rodney Hide QC”. The reality of it is that he has not presented one fact to make these serious allegations. They are deadly serious in my view, and they also concern the issue on which we turned over Radio New Zealand and Television New Zealand (TVNZ) in December last year with one Phil Kitchin, who was working for them—those are the facts.

Madam SPEAKER: I thank the member. The only breach of the Standing Orders is that questions are meant to be succinct, as are answers. If the member could please make his question succinct, then it would be much appreciated, being consistent with the Standing Orders.

Rodney Hide: It is very hard; he has been up to such a lot of naughtiness.

Madam SPEAKER: No, could the member please just ask the question.

Rodney Hide: Does the Prime Minister think it a good look to be abolishing the Serious Fraud Office just as it is assessing the complaint made by a former business associate of Peter Simunovich that her Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Peters, went to see Peter Simunovich to show him the evidence of corruption he had against Peter Simunovich and stated that through a payment of $50,000, “we would just slowly …”—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I demand that either the member gives me the evidence now or he apologises. What he is saying is baseless and, more important, it is the subject of a serious defamation case for which at the time, all the way through December last year, TVNZ and Radio New Zealand argued that they had never at any point sought to impugn my integrity. The member is now seeking to litigate a sub judice matter in the House.

So long, it's been good....

OK - let's get this straight. I'm not planning on going anywhere - but this video could make things, let's say, ummm - interesting! So should Keeping Stock suddenly disappear from the blogosphere, you'll know that powerful forces have been at work.

WhaleOil notes that he received, anonymously, a DVD. A DVD about rich and powerful men allegedly doing some very dodgy things which you'll read about if you follow the link.


UPDATE: The point has been made. The video has been seen. The link has died, so it is pointless leaving it up. The link to Whale's site with its list of potential viewing places will remain. The whanau's budget is not limitless, and legal action is something best avoided. But it was fun while it lasted.

Meantime Keeping Stock's voice is added to the chorus of those calling for the incoming government to convene an Independant Corruption Commission with wide terms of reference.



Labour's List

Scoop carries full details of the Labour Party list, which numbers a very optimistic 78.

Being charitable, I'd say that the first 35 should be safe; then again, after the week that Helen Clark has had, even that might be optimistic. So let's look at who we might wave goodbye to, some if they don't retain elecorate seats:

Damien O'Connor #37; Judith Tizard #38; Mark Burton #39; Mahara Okeroa #40; Martin Gallager #41; Dave Hereora #42; Louisa Wall #43; Lesley Soper #77 - yes, that's right; a sitting list MP second-to-bottom on the party's list!! Will this be the last straw, after a week which has reinforced Labour's desire to campaign alongside New Zealand First?

And to demonstrate Labour's commitment to rejuvenation, former Race Relations Conciliator Rajen Prasad, aged 62, will be elected to Parliament from #12 on the list. I wonder what The Standard will say about Labour's quest for diversity - probably nothing I suggest.

'E's restin'!

After the reference to it in the Kerre Woodham post, I can't leave my faithful readers hanging, so enjoy this "live" version of one of comedy's finest moments. And if you substitute the words "Foreign Minister" for parrot, and "Norway Lobster" for Norwegian Blue, it takes on a whole new meaning! And don't forget, the name "Palin" is now on our consciousness - I wonder if they're related? So enjoy...


Woodham on Peters

Other blogs are talking about Bill Ralston's Winston Peters piece today, so I'll simply link to it and move on - to Kerre Woodham's!

Now I've never been a huge fan of Woodham, but in the last few months her pieces seem to have moved from quite strongly left in outlook back towards the centre, with occasional excursions over the fence on the right hand side. And today she joins the party comenting on Winston Peters. After a dig at the PM who she says in believing Winston Peters by default disbelieves Labour's benefactor Owen Glenn, she turns her sights on the Foreign Minister ('e's not dead; 'e's just restin'!) saying:

I suppose too the casting aside of Glenn makes sense because his cheques were banked. New Zealand First's support on Labour legislation throughout the year has been, and indeed still is, on hire purchase.

And now the Serious Fraud Office is investigating. I used to think the world of Winston, but it's been a long time since I found him principled or amusing. His posturing that New Zealand First is the only party not to sully its hands with trust funds and big money donations can be seen for what it is - bullshit.

And yet it was all so unnecessary. If Peters had been honest and upfront from day one, who would have cared?

People in the racing industry can surely support Peters just as those from the unions support Labour and the Business Roundtable supports National. Where's the harm in declaring you're acting in the interests of specific groups within New Zealand? It's only Peters' hubris that has exposed him to charges of hypocrisy at best; lying at worst. And still his dyed in the wool supporters continue to believe in him.

On Wednesday night, I had one mad old tart ring me up and tell me I had to be careful. She wouldn't like to see anything happen to me but I had to be very, very careful. She was recording every word and I should watch my step. "You're not going to kill me are you?" I asked flippantly. There was a long pause. "I hope not," she said. "That's all I can say."

The other two who rang in support of him made me yearn for the introduction of a meritocracy.

Still, you can't fault their loyalty. Or maybe it's as Niccolo Machiavelli wrote in that blueprint for rulers, The Prince: "Princes who have achieved great things have been those who have given their word lightly, who have known how to trick men with their cunning, and who, in the end, have overcome those abiding by honest principles. Men are so simple, and so much creatures of circumstance, that the deceiver will always find someone ready to be deceived."

In this, Winston seems to have cornered the market.

Well said Kerre!

"Dingo's" honeymoon over

The headline on the Herald website says it all:

Wallabies cop worst thrashing ever

JOHANNESBURG - An embarrassing Wallabies outfit suffered their worst test rugby loss of all time in the Tri-Nations clash at Ellis Park today, a rampant South Africa running in eight tries to thrash Australia 53-8.

The 45-point difference surpassed Australia's previous worst losing margin of 39 points, also suffered at the hands of South Africa, in Pretoria in 1997.

Welcome to the realities of international rugby Robbie!


The Clark/Peters meeting

I never realised Stephen Franks had such a good sense of humour!! This is well worth a read over a a cup of whatever energises you on a sunny Sunday morning - which raises the question; how long is it since we had a weekend with TWO fine days?

Anyway, enjoy Franks's humourous account of the meeting between Clark and Peters - at leat I think it's statire; it couldn't be for real - could it?

Another day, another editorial

The Herald on Sunday joins its weekday counterpart with a stinging editorial on the subject of you know who.

But Keeping Stock's attention was drawn to the third-to-last paragraph:

This week, the suggestion emerged that Ron Mark may stand as NZ First's candidate in Rimutaka. A victory there could get the party two, or even three MPs - one of them the leader. Were Labour to connive at that, urging tactical voting to allow a NZ First victory in the hope of getting the numbers to form a coalition, Clark would confirm the suspicion she is now quite properly under: that she will turn a blind eye to Peters' shenanigans to hold on to power.

It will be interesting to see where Labour's Rimutaka candidate Chris Hipkins is placed on Labour's list given that, according to his candidate website:

Chris joined the Labour Party in 1996 and has been an active member ever since. He has been involved in numerous campaigns and held several offices. Chris has also worked at parliament, first as Senior Advisor to the then Education Minister Trevor Mallard and more recently advising Steve Maharey and Prime Minister Helen Clark.

He sounds like the ideal candidate to be called into the headmistress's study to be told "Second place is fine laddie, as long as the short, bald guy wins."!!

Hone says ...

Hone Harawira is a "tell it as it is" knd of guy. So when he says things like "they're gone" and "thy're a coalition corpse", you kind of get the feeling that a coalition agreement between Labour and the Maori Party won't happen any time soon. Here's what he has told the SST:

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira told the Star-Times that the Labour-led government was "stale" and arrogant and it was time for a change of government.

"They're suffering from the arrogance of being in power too long. At the moment they're a coalition corpse. They're gone, and anybody who is associated too closely with them is likely to be gone as well."

National leader John Key last week ruled out working with NZ First leader Winston Peters in any National-led government, a move that places the Maori Party centre stage as the largest minor party that can negotiate with either Labour or National.

"Clearly we're not going to be the party that wins the most votes, but we are hoping to be the players after the election, and we are doing all that we can to take the seven [Maori] seats and put ourselves in a position where we will not be the last cab off the rank, but be the first limousine," said Harawira.

Don't you just love it when people's words come back to haunt them three years on?

Glenn says "No" - to Labour!

A number of blogs (here's but one example)were carrying the story last week that senior figures in the Labour Party were bad-mouthing Owen Glenn in the wake of the release of his letter to the Privileges Committee. Now why would that be? Why would you besmirch the reputation of your single largest donor? Perhaps because he is no longer a donor?

Yep! That's what the Sunday Star-Times is suggesting:

Labour has been back asking controversial party donor Owen Glenn for more money despite a storm of controversy over earlier donations by the expatriate Monaco businessman.

Labour Party president Mike Williams yesterday confirmed he had met with Glenn within the past few months, but had been unsuccessful in raising more money.

The news comes as the Labour-led government reels from the fallout from controversy over New Zealand First leader Winston Peters' handling of donations to his party, one of which was a $100,000 contribution Glenn made in December 2005 to Peters' legal expenses.

Oh darn! Labour's not in strife financially is it? Wouldn't be a shame, and an irony, if its own conduct and its own Electoral Finance Act came back to bite it in the bum? Still, there's always the unions...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Keeping Baubles

So it's true. Winston "The Baubleator" Peters may have been relieved of his portfolios, but the privileges of office remain. Yep, that's right - less work, same money; less work, Ministerial house; less work' Minsiterial BMW and chauffeur; less work, same staff, except for those who are portfolio-specific. That doesn't really seem like too much of an inconvenience for the Minister for Courtney Place as Peters was once known.

Rodney Hide summed it up well on 3News tonight:

The man who lodged the SFO complaint, ACT leader Rodney Hide said that was not on.

"She's stood him down but she hasn't cut off his baubles, so Winston's got all the perks and title of a minister he just hasn't got any of the work which will probably suit Winston perfectly - no work, all baubles," Mr Hide said.

If Peters was so confident he had the evidence he should make it public and let the voters decide, he said.

Finding love in the provinces

PM of NZ, the blogger, not the PM notes that the metropolis of Dannevirke, birthplace of Joh Bieljke-Petersen has a new tourist attraction which goes by the name of Promiscuous Girlz. He also notes that local opponents have set up a vigil to shame the locals (and tourists) from entering said "house of ill repute".

The owner of this brave venture couldn't be happier with the level of publicity she's received - she's even had the TV cameras there - a storm in a D-cup maybe?

The Saturday Rant

No, I haven't stolen an idea from another blogger! This is just a welcome back to kindred blogger sole Adam Smith at The Inquiring Mind who has returned from his recent visit to Melbourne, and recommences his Saturday Rant.

I enjoy my visits to Adam's place in the blogosphere, and his Rant is a welcome diversion from the cares of the world on a Saturday - welcome back Adam!

The Herald Peters editorial

Having been accused a fabricating stories, and been called upon to resign by Winston Peters over the Owen Glenn donation, you would expect the NZ Herald to have strong opinions on the "stood-down" Foreign Minister. And you'd be right! Here's today's editorial, reproduced in full:

Peters is the author of his own demise

The departure of Winston Peters, a relief as it is, does not mean he is gone entirely from our political life. Thanks to MMP he needs only 5 per cent of the electorate - one voter in 20 - to give New Zealand First their party vote at the coming election and he would return to Parliament.

Alternatively, a majority of the Tauranga electorate could make him their MP again.

After all that has been disclosed this year it seems unthinkable that anyone would still believe him worth their vote but he has had a following that seems impervious to political reasoning. They are older people mostly, on low fixed incomes, unsettled by social change and suspicious of minorities, migrants and trends they fear.

Mr Peters has exploited their fears and suspicions mercilessly, sometimes at the expense of minorities and careless of the damage done to this country's standing in migrants' homelands.

To supporting audiences Winston Peters liked to portray himself as lonely hero assailed on all sides by rich and powerful interests that he alone would expose and hold to account.

In recent weeks it is he who has been exposed as a recipient of money, a lot of money, from rich and powerful interests and he has resisted the sort of accountability he demands of others.

Some of the unexplained elements of fundraising by him or on his behalf raise very serious questions indeed. They are now the subject of Serious Fraud Office investigation, which he says he can satisfy.

If money paid to the mysterious Spencer Trust run by his brother went to party purposes and its handling meets the letter of the law, Mr Peters might have saved himself a great deal of trouble by explaining this long ago.

Likewise, the $100,000 given to his lawyer by Labour's leading benefactor Owen Glenn. Had Mr Peters bothered to check the facts with his lawyer, Brian Henry, before denying any donation from Mr Glenn, he would have saved himself embarrassment before Parliament's privileges committee.

But these are not incidental misjudgments on his part. They are completely in character, typical of the instinctively evasive style of politics he has always practised.

It seems he cannot help himself; faced with a reasonable question his response is invariably to bristle, bluff, dissemble, prevaricate and try to keep the media guessing.

It had the benefit of prolonging his moments in the limelight but it went deeper than attention-seeking behaviour.

It became an almost pathological aversion to candour, even when a simple explanation might have saved him further trouble.

He was forever promising to come clean tomorrow. Even the Prime Minister was unable to get a straightforward explanation of his Spencer Trust and had to be content with assurances he had done nothing illegal.

She has been more patient with him than with any minister of her own party but in the end Mr Peters is the author of his own demise.

The National Party has written him out of the script for post election negotiations. Even if he summons enough support to survive, National's John Key says he will not be acceptable in any ministry he might form. He has destroyed Mr Peters' political leverage at a stroke.

Soon it will be up to his previous voters. Have they seen through him at last? Or have the disclosures of the past few months gone completely over their heads, merely reinforcing his heroic pose for them? Probably the latter. Ever susceptible to his rhetoric, grooming and charm, they might forgive him anything.

But he would return for nothing. The last of his credibility has disappeared. So should he.

Keeping fit!

Or maybe that should be "getting fit"!! But in the wake of Mrs Inventory's recent stay at the Wanganui Hilton (whoops - Hospital), we've decided that a better standard of fitness can't do us any harm - at least that's what I thought until the day after my first workout!

So we are on a fitness kick, and Ole Inventory has set himself a target weight that will necessitate the loss of around 18kg from his rather ample frame. Being stuck behind a desk all day hasn't been good for my girth, and golf has been an infrequent pleasure at best over the winter, so drastic times call for drastic remedies!! A friend of ours is a personal trainer, and she's coming to visit us three times a week to inflict pain and punishment - and to add insult to injury, next week she'll be aknockin' on our door at 6am! Ouch!!

I shall update progress from time to time when aching joints permit. My first goal is to avoid calls to Greenpeace over whale strandings when we holiday in the Pacific later in the year!!

The Labour list

Homepaddock blogs about the Labour list selection taking place today, and notes that polling suggest a smaller Labour caucus post-election. So what sitting MP's will be sacrificed for "new blood"?

Well, a combination of polling and anecdotal evidence suggests that a number of Labour Ministers are in trouble in their electorates. Names such as Darren Hughes (Otaki), Steve Chadwick (Rotorua), Judith Tizard (Akld Central) and Harry Duynhoven (New Plymouth) are tipped to lose their seats - the later to a candidate who got the nomination just a few weeks ago! Ex-Minister Mark Burton is behind the eight-ball in Taupo, now that the boundaries take in Cambridge, and Russell Fairbrother seems to have as much chance of taking back Napier after the Baygate scandal as National do of winning a Maori seat! And those are just names off the top of my head - feel free to suggest others!

So doubtless there will be some bruised egos after the list is published, adding to the PM's woes in trying to preserve caucus unity when the line which determines who stays and who goes is getting closer to the top of the list.

Tasered

The question has to be asked. Which of the three trenchcoated, false-moustache-and-sunglasses disguised "blokes" is REALLY the Prime Minister??


Friday, August 29, 2008

Peters "hurt but calm"

That's what the Herald is saying...

Helen Clark says Winston Peters will return to his roles as Foreign and Racing Minister if he is cleared by the SFO.

Mr Peters volunteered to step down from his Government roles today, pending the Serious Fraud Office's investigation into donations to NZ First.

Helen Clark said it was clear to both her and Mr Peters that this was the appropriate approach to take. She said he was hurt but calm during a secret meeting this afternoon.

"In politics each of us has a reputation and obviously Mr Peters is very keen as any of us would be to defend his reputation and he will be offering total cooperation to the Serious Fraud Office."

All I have to say to that is - tough! Peters has attacked all manner of people under the cover of Parliamentary privilege. He defamed Selwyn Cushing. He appears not to have been able to live up to the standards he demands of everyone else. And like all bullies, he doesn't like it when somebody fights back.

Winston Peters will get little sympathy from Keeping Stock.

Peters steps down

Breaking news on the Herald's website...more to come

Here's the first story...


Winston Peters has offered to stand down from his portfolios as Foreign and Racing Minister pending the Serious Fraud Office's investigation into donations to NZ First.

Helen Clark will take over Mr Peters' portfolios at Mr Peters request.

The first meeting between the SFO and Mr Peters will take place tomorrow morning, Helen Clark said in a statement released minutes ago.

Key talks tougher

John Key's position against Winston Peters has hardened. The interview between Key and Kathryn Ryan on Nine to Noon this morning is pretty compelling, as Key not only slams the door on Peters but locks it as well. Key again goes as far as to say that National would rather not form a government than coalesce with Winston Peters saying that there are ethical considerations as well.

I suspect that this will go down very well with the electorate. And it contrasts markedly with Labour's attitude, especially now that we know that Helen Clark knew about Peters asking for the Glenn donation, and yet continued to use New Zealand First's votes to retain the confidence of the Parliament. And this week especially, John Key has looked particularly like a Prime Minister in waiting.

Brand Winston in tatters

While Mrs Inventory and I have been en route to Wellington, fellow blogger sole Adam Smith at The Inquiring Mind has been busy tracking the fall and fall of Winston Peters. Even though Peters is still Foreign Minister as I type this, he has been a busy man today. I understand that he received a rousing reception from a GreyPower audience this morning!

Adam reports that Peters came out swinging on Radio New Zealand this morning declaring all the accusations against him as lies, and saying that he would be delivering concrete proof of his innocence to the PM today. I rather think that the only concrete that the PM would like to consider with regard to Peters would be the footwear variety!!

The Friday Forum -29/8/08

Yippee - it's the last Friday Forum of the winter! From my office window I can see blossom on the trees, the lawns have started to grow again, and it's a whole lot lighter in the mornings - Spring is just around the corner!

So is that where New Zealand is at - is the election going to represent a change of season? Are there better times ahead? And where will Winston Peters be viewing it from?

Have your say; rant, rave and unleash your frustrations here at the Friday Forum!!

Homepaddock on Silver Linings

The excellent Homepaddock blogs on Jim Hopkins's weekly column in today's NZ Herald - well worth a read.

Peters to be suspended today?

According to DPF at Kiwiblog, that's what everyone is predicting. DPF has a succint summary of all the overnight and morning opinion, and it's pretty unanimous - he says:

The gallery seem united in their view that Helen Clark will suspend or stand down Winston Peters today. She would be silly not to. In fact the SFO investigation has been fortunate timing for her - it lessened some of the focus on her personal knowledge of the Owen Glenn donation.


So that's where the blogosphere has a role to play. When even left-wing commentators like Jafapete are critical of the PM after yesterday's revelations, questions must be asked of her, and the issue must be kept in the public consciousness. If the MSM don't do it, that role will fall to the blogosphere, and Keeping Stock willingly accepts the challenge.

Meanwhile, Mrs Inventory and I are staying in Wellington tonight, so it will be interesting to see if there are any familiar faces around our hotel, and especially, its Club Lounge!

When it rains ...

Phil Kitchin adds to Winston Peters's woes in this morning's Dom-Post with new allegations over the Winebox affair.

Winston Peters' damaged credibility is in even more doubt as documents reveal that his claim to Parliament that he paid all his Winebox inquiry legal fees is questionable.

Mr Peters has told Parliament that he "had to carry the can" for legal expenses incurred - but The Dominion Post has obtained copies of bills that show taxpayers paid nearly $24,000. The bills show Mr Peters' lawyer, Brian Henry, was paid the money by Parliamentary Service for Winebox legal advice.

The Winebox papers detailed a complex Cook Islands tax scheme used by prominent New Zealand businessmen to reduce tax liabilities.

The bills were paid by the taxpayer-funded agency, which administers parliamentary business, eight months after a commission of inquiry was set up to investigate Mr Peters' allegations that the Serious Fraud Office and Inland Revenue acted unlawfully or incompetently.

They are for services that included "researching into the Winebox", obtaining copies of transcripts of evidence, "consulting re media briefing of the legal position of Sir Ronald Davison [the counsel assisting the Winebox inquiry]", "preparation of media package in respect of events in the House of Representatives", and advice on a Winebox select committee.

Mr Peters answered questions in Parliament on May 10, 2006, about Winebox legal fees.

National MP Tau Henare, a former NZ First MP and caucus colleague of Mr Peters, asked the NZ First leader: "Who paid the legal fees for the Winebox?"

Mr Peters replied: "Who paid for the Winebox inquiry? Yours truly ... I would never have thought Tau Henare would have the temerity to raise that question. Shame on the member. I had to carry the whole can by myself."

However, four bills obtained by The Dominion Post, all dated June 2, 1995, and from Mr Henry to former NZ First staff member Terry Heffernan, suggest Mr Peters appears to have misled Parliament. The bills total nearly $24,000 and were coded as being paid by Parliamentary Service.


Oh dear.

Helen's bad day #79

It's just as well that someone can see a funny side to all the wrangling overWinston Peters and Helen Clark! Paula Oliver in the NZ Herald calls yesterday "Helen Clark's longest day" and it's hard to disagree when you read things like this:

Prime Minister Helen Clark will today have to decide whether to do what others have been pushing her to since February, when the issue of donations to New Zealand First first began to bubble.

The Prime Minister has continued to stand by Winston Peters, but gradually her language has changed to add more caveats to her support:

On emails in the Herald revealing Owen Glenn gave money to NZ First:

15 July 2008: "One thing I am not responsible for is New Zealand First. The buck stops somewhere else on that one."

16 July 2008: "I am not commenting on anything to do with funding NZ First may or may not have received."

and this:

After Mr Peters revealed Owen Glenn donated $100,000 in legal costs and claimed he had not known until his lawyer told him:

22 July 2008: "In his position, I'd be embarrassed if that was what I was told after making clear denials ... I'm in the position that Mr Peters is an honourable member and I must accept his word, unless I have evidence to the contrary."

Now that one is REALLY interesting - "unless I have evidence to the contrary" - of course, we now know that the PM DID have that evidence!

Then there's this:

After allegations in the Dominion Post about donations from the Vela brothers and their fishing companies:

22 July 2008: Helen Clark said the allegations were "serious" but unsubstantiated and until she thought it was "seriously affecting" the job Mr Peters was doing, she did not have a concern.

"I think it's important to be fair and not rush to judgment."

Not to mention this:

After further allegations about a $25,000 donation from Sir Bob Jones which was paid into the Spencer Trust:

29 July: "I have been given no reason to believe that there is any illegality. I continue to watch closely developments on all matters around ministers but at this time I have no reason to doubt Mr Peters' word."

And lastly these:

Yesterday morning, when Clark was revealing Owen Glenn had told her in February that he donated to Winston Peters:

"I want to see the matter dealt with obviously, but as I've consistently said I feel I've got a duty to be fair. I have not known Mr Peters to lie to me and I have to take people as I find them."

Last night, after Serious Fraud Office announces it will investigate:

"I will be talking with [Winston Peters] directly, that will most likely be tomorrow. I understand that he has engaged legal counsel, he will want to consult that counsel."

Keeping Stock thanks Paula Oliver for her public service in laying bare the PM's pronouncements, many and varied as they are, on Winston Peters. Keeping Stock does not resile from its view that to have kept Winston Peters on as a Minister when she knew, or at the very least strongly suspected that he had been dishonest to her, to Parliament and to the public is outrageous. Peters must go, and the Rt Hon Helen Clark should be mindful of the "Honourable" in her title, and do the honourable thing - resign.


Who else smells a rat?

'Nuff said.....

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bugger!!

Murphy's Law was at work tonight!! Mrs Inventory and I had to go over to Palmy for a seminar tonight. We left home about five pm, and I was just posting the mail when I heard the news about the SFO's decision to investigate Winston Peters, and have only just got back to my computer!

Anyway, here's some thoughts and questions.

Why has Helen Clark not stood Winston Peters down given that "She acknowledged her precedent was to stand ministers down when they were facing serious legal scrutiny."?

Will the ETS legislation now fall over?

Will the 48th Parliament be dissolved before the Privileges Committee meets again next Thursday morning?

Has there been in this country's history a Prime Minister who has knowingly allowed a Minister to hold on to his warrant, knowing or strongly suspecting that he was dishonest and had misled Parliament and the public? Sir Robert Muldoon was a despot, but if his Ministers screwed up, he dealt with them swiftly and decisively.

What is Helen Clark's REAL agenda?

Can a John Key-led National government restore public confidence in our democracy, and in the institution of Parliament?

Last but not least - when is the election Prime Minister?

A great photo montage...


A great montage of photographs. The PM under pressure and looking tired and drawn, Winston Peters in attack and accuse mode, and all the while, Owen Glenn sits on the sidelines, smiling serenely. Well done to the Herald webmasters - it's not only a work of art, but a great commentary on the events of today!

Who does he think he is?

Who the heck does Winston Peters think that he is? This is his challenge to the Serious Fraud Office, issued by way of media release today:


Put Up Or Shut Up SFO - Peters


Rt Hon Winston Peters has told the Serious Fraud Office to either lay charges against him or to shut up and go away.

Mr Peters today said the SFO had been creeping around back doors dropping hints and providing media speculation but not finding any evidence of wrongdoing or illegality on his part.

“I am prepared to wait on the court steps for them and if they don’t turn up they can go away for ever,” said Mr Peters.


Keeping Stock believes that the Minister of Foreign Affairs (On Thursday at 3.20pm, as this post was typed, as his status could change at any moment!!) ought to be careful what he wishes for!

The House this afternoon...

Should be a fun day in the bearpit today.

Q1 - Hon BILL ENGLISH to the Prime Minister: Does she have confidence in the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Racing; if so, why?

Q3 - Hon Dr NICK SMITH to the Minister responsible for Climate Change Issues: How does he reconcile his statement yesterday that the $1 billion home insulation and household compensation for the Emissions Trading Scheme is coming from the extra revenue that flows from the Crown through electricity prices, when he confirmed in the House on 20 May 2008 that the State-owned enterprises that are anticipating increased profits have already planned to use those increased profits as part of their investment programme in renewal energy production, and that without that increased investment there is not the slightest prospect of meeting our targets?

Q8 - RODNEY HIDE to the Minister of Broadcasting: Is Television New Zealand involved in any legal action before the courts?


Goverment orders of the day:

1. Climate Change (Emissions Trading and Renewable Preference) Bill
187-2
Hon David Parker Second reading
(Report of the Finance and Expenditure Committee presented 16 June 2008)

Will NZ First still support this now that Clark has shat on Peters (pardon the language, but I couldn't think of another word that would aptly describe the situation)?

The fun will soon begin. Meantime, have spies been dispatched by the MSM to Govt House to record the comings and goings?

Breaking news! Helen knew too!!

The Herald's banner says:

PM: Glenn told me in February of donation to NZ First... details soon

Watch this space!


The first story is up:

Clark: Glenn told me of donation in February
12:00PM Thursday August 28, 2008

Helen Clark said today that billionaire Owen Glenn told her in February that he donated $100,000 to New Zealand First.

The Prime Minister then put that information to the party's leader Winston Peters at the time and he gave her an assurance then that the party had not received money from Mr Glenn.

This new information this morning means Helen Clark has known for months of the conflicting sides of the story which were publicly revealed yesterday in letters to Parliament's privileges committee.

The conversation between the Prime Minister and Owen Glenn came before Mr Peters' now infamous "NO" press conference at which he said the party had not received a dollar from the ex-pat businessman.

* More soon

Extra! Extra! New Tabloid launched

He's been keeping it quiet, but WhaleOil has gone into the newspaper business, and the first edition of The Sun will hit the streets soon. Now "The Sun" is a pretty ironic name when you live in Auckland, but maybe it's a subliminal reference to brighter times ahead after a change of government. So, in a Keeping Stock exclusive, here's a sneak peek at the front page of issue #1...




Hat-tip: WhaleOil Newspapers Ltd

Darren Hughes - the ginga goose
















I'm just watching the "Young Guns" section on Breakfast at the moment, and watching Darren Hughes, Labour's "Michael Cullen Jnr" making excuses for Winston Peters - but why the heck is he wearing an Olympic uniform tracksuit top? I don't recall Hughes competing in anything at Beijing. Is this to be Labour's secret weapon for the election campaign?


On the subject of Hughes, he actually seems to be a reasonable sort of bloke. I don't know if there's any truth to the rumour that he used to read Hansard at bedtime when he was at school, but he's certainly a career polly. Keeping Stock's advice to Darren is this - take a sabbatical from the bearpit Dazza - get out and work in the "real world" for a couple of terms - you can still come back to Parliament at under 40, but with some new life skills, and a better appreciation of what life is like outside the bubble that is the Beehive. And who knows, you might even have a Shawn Tan-like epiphany, and come on over from the dark side into the light! And better still, you might get better dress sense!!!

The Herald's opinion...

Two pieces stand out in this morning's Herald - firstly the editorial which begins with some very strong words directed at Winston Peters:

If Winston Peters had the decency his position deserves, he would now resign. The testimony his donor, Owen Glenn, has given Parliament's privileges committee directly contradicts the New Zealand First leader's public statements about the expatriate businessman's $100,000 contribution to his legal expenses. Mr Glenn says Mr Peters not only knew about the contribution in 2005, he requested it. Mr Peters says that is not so and maintains he did not know of the donation until his lawyer, Brian Henry, told him about it on July 18 this year.

Dealing with the conflict of evidence, the leader writer says:

If neither is honestly mistaken in his recall, then one of them is not telling the truth. On a matter of public interest such as this it seems reasonable to ask what motive either may have for deception. It is hard to imagine a motive for Mr Glenn. He is primarily a Labour supporter, the largest donor to that party's expenses at the 2005 election. He says he agreed to help Mr Peters in the belief this would aid the Labour Party, which of course has governed with NZ First support since the election.

Mr Peters would not want it to be known that he or his party was in receipt of donations from somebody such as Mr Glenn. He has built his political career on opposition to the supposed corruption of politics in this country, claiming others are beholden to big-business donors and selling out to foreign interests. Even so, it would be foolish of him to falsely deny any knowledge of the Glenn donation, and he did own up to it the day he says he was informed of it by Mr Henry.

Indeed. Who built his party on the catch-phrase "Keeping them honest"? Who has been exposed as being as politically expedient as the next politically expedient politician? Who has the most at stake here? If you answered "Winston Peters" to each of those questions, go to the top of the class!

Lastly, the editorial comments on Helen Clark's position:

Labour needs his party's support to pass some sentinel legislation, the emissions trading bill, and would prefer it through to the election, now little more than two months away at most. Mr Peters should consider whether these are honourable reasons for him to remain in office.

The questions raised by Mr Glenn's testimony to the committee could not be more serious in their implications. Mr Peters should resign as Foreign Minister forthwith. If he were also to withdraw his party's support for the Government, it is probably too late to force an election slightly earlier than Helen Clark may have in mind. But ultimately it is the public who will pass judgment on him and any party that seems likely to deal with him if he survives the election. Even National, ever tentative, has now cast him aside.

The Prime Minister should now consider the interests of her party and the country and hold the election as soon as possible. The best way out of this predicament, for Mr Peters and all concerned, would be to name the date today.

Keeping Stock could not agree more.

Meanwhile, John Armstrong compliments John Key for slamming the door on Winston Peters yesterday, and makes reference to Key drawing on his currency trader instincts:

Key is still taking a gamble. National could miss out on Government for another three years if NZ First holds the balance of power.

However, this is the gamble of John Key, the money trader; the gamble of someone who sees the potential dividends far outweighing the costs and is willing to trust his instincts.

The ploy is well-timed. Labour is starting to recover in the polls. National's rejection of Peters now implicitly ties him and his party to Labour, which was already in danger of suffering collateral damage from his truculent behaviour of recent weeks. Someone who Labour had tried to keep hidden in the garage is now running amok in the living room.

However, the big plus for Key is that he can now argue a vote for NZ First is effectively a vote for Labour. And he can say a vote for Labour is a vote for NZ First.

Perhaps those stories about Key being known as the Smiling Assassin in his currency trader days were well founded after all. Not only did he effectively eliminate Peters yesterday, barring a phoenix-like resurrection, but he fired a strong warning shot across the bows of the good ship Labour - and he has already received broad acclaim.

Emmerson on Peters

Rod Emmerson is fast becoming New Zealand's best cartoonist...

The PM's latest dilemma

"Can I tough this out?" may well have been the question that Helen Clark was asking herself yesterday when the news first broke about the Owen Glenn letter. Publicly, she is standing by her man, but Tracy Watkins in the Dom-Post suggests that Helen Clark is facing "mounting pressure" to go to the polls early - here's her argument:

Prime Minister Helen Clark faces mounting pressure to head to the polls early as Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters' political survival hangs by a thread.

Miss Clark resisted calls yesterday to sack Mr Peters after seeking his word during a phone conversation that he had not misled her, after claims emerged that he solicited a $100,000 donation from billionaire Owen Glenn.

But her hand could yet be forced by further revelations from Mr Glenn, who seems likely to be asked by Parliament's privileges committee to give further evidence next week, after Mr Peters made it clear that it came down to his word against Mr Glenn's.

The last hurdle to an earlier election fell yesterday, when NZ First pledged its support for the Government's emissions trading scheme, meaning the legislation could be passed as early as next week.

Miss Clark appeared determined to stand by Mr Peters yesterday, saying she would await the outcome of the privileges hearing before making her next move. But she looked increasingly isolated last night after National leader John Key cut Mr Peters loose and all but ruled out the NZ First leader from any future National cabinet.

That last paragraph is telling. John Key has effectively drawn a line in the sand. He stands on one side; on the other side stand the PM and her Foreign Minister. The message is now clear - a vote for New Zealand First is a vote for Labour.

Another day, another trust

This morning's Dom-Post carries allegations of yet ANOTHER secret trust fund within the NZ First organisation. After a most extraordinary day yesterday, you'd think that things couldn't get a whole lot worse for Winston Peters - but you have to admit; he doesn't do things by halves! The Dom-Post says:

Details of more secret donations to NZ First into yet another bank account - separate to the Spencer Trust and the party's main account - have been obtained by The Dominion Post.

The account, known as the National Campaign Account, received an anonymous donation of $9999 on January 31, 2003, six months after the 2002 general election.

The man hired by NZ First to audit its accounts for 2003, Nick Kosoof, said there was no way to trace the donor because the money deposited was "cash".

Now what was that slogan again? Oh yeah; New Zealand First - Keeping Them Honest

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Another day, another untruth

That's the Rt Hon Winston Peters in centre-shot.

Where was the photograph taken? At the Karaka yearling sales in 2006. And what's significant about that? Not much - only that Winston Peters said on One News tonight he wasn't at the Karaka sales in 2006, and it was at the 2007 sales that he met with Owen Glenn.

Not that photographic evidence was required. Because this is what Peters told Parliament in the debate on the Prime Minister's statement on 14 February 2006:

I will give members an example relating to Don Brash and the National Party. I saw them at the Karaka saleyards this year. In 20 years, National Party members have done nothing for racing whatsoever. But there they were, totally supportive all of a sudden of the racing industry.

Dr Don Brash: That’s right.

John Key is well rid of Winston Peters.

Hat-tip: WhaleOil

You beauty John Key!!

This great piece of news is on the Herald website - no wonder Peters is so septic towards the Nats today!

John Key says Winston Peters would be unacceptable as a minister in a government led by him unless he can provide a credible explanation on the Owen Glenn saga.

Peters is facing questions over his credibility after billionaire Owen Glenn said the New Zealand First leader asked him for a donation towards his legal challenge for the Tauranga seat in 2005.

Mr Glenn also said that Mr Peters personally thanked him for the donation.

Mr Key said Mr Glenn's letter to the privileges committee was a huge hit to Mr Peters credibility.

"Faced with today's revelations, Helen Clark must stand Mr Peters down as a minister," Mr Key said.

"That is what I would do if I were Prime Minister. Helen Clark has stood ministers from Labour down for much less.

"Governments and ministers must enjoy the confidence of the parliament and, ultimately, the public. Faced with today's revelations, it is no longer acceptable for Mr Peters to offer bluster and insults where simple, courteous, honest answers are required."

Thank you John Key. You have, IMHO taken a giant step towards not only becoming Prime Minister, but becoming a leader that New Zealanders can admire. Kia kaha John Key!


Hat-tip: Homepaddock

The excuses have begun...

The letter is a forgery - Dail Jones

He is a hard-working and conscientious Minister - Helen Clark

There is conflicting evidence - Helen Clark

The letter was TO the Privileges Committe, not FROM it - Helen Clark

I talked to Owen Glenn at the Bledisloe Cup game in Sydney before the 2005 election - Winston Peters


I guess that this means that New Zealand First is supporting the ETS legislation, and that Helen Clark is going to try and tough this out. This, dear readers, is democracy in action, New Zealand style. Now, which party is proposing a referendum on MMP?

Aud's revenge

Revenge, so they say, is a dish best served cold. It's now more than a month since Winston Peters called upon Audrey Young and her editor to put up or resign, so doubtless Audrey is enjoying putting the boot in after the appropriate cooling-off period. And just to twist the knife a little, as those seeking vengeance are wont to do, the Herald has posted this video clip from Question Time on Tuesday 22 July, the first sitting day after the news broke that Peters had indeed received $100k from Owen Glenn.

This one's for you Audrey!

The Glenn Letter


The Herald has published the full letter from Owen Glenn to the Privileges Committee - here 'tis:

Mr Simon Power MP
Chairperson
Privileges Committee
House of Representatives
Parliament Buildings
WELLINGTON

19 August 2008

RE: Complaint concerning my donation to Rt Hon Winston Peters MP

Dear Mr Power,

I refer to your letter of 19 August 2008 concerning what I understand originated as a complaint made by Mr Rodney Hide MP. I do not know Mr Hide. I have not had any communication with him.

I am happy to cooperate with you about the $100,000 payment that I instructed to be made on or about 20 December 2005, which I believe was to the practice account of Mr BP Henry, an Auckland barrister, detailed below.

I wish to make no comment on any of the seven matters listed in the bullet points in your letter. I can provide a statement of the facts concerning the payment. I do not wish this letter to be treated as being private or secret. The facts of the matter are simple. I am happy for them to be public information.

The payment was made by me to assist funding the legal costs incurred personally by Rt Hon Winston Peters MP concerning his election petition dispute, at his request. Mr Peters sought help from me for this purpose in a personal conversation, some time after I had first met him in Sydney. I agreed to help in the belief that this step would also assist the Labour Party, in its relationship with Mr Peters. I supported the Labour Party.

I have never made any donation to the New Zealand First Party. I declined an earlier request to do so.

I understand that Mr Henry is Mr Peters' lawyer. I do not know Mr Henry. I do not believe that we have met. I do not recall that I, or my assistants, had any discussion or communication with Mr Henry other than to receive remittance details. I expected to receive those details, following my agreement to assist Mr Peters meet his legal costs. My office was given bank account details for payment ASB #123030 Acc# 0678019-50 BP Henry Practice Account, Remuera Branch. The payment instruction on my Westpac account was given accordingly, on my authority.

Mr Peters subsequently met me socially at the Karaka yearling sales, I believe in early 2006. He thanked me for my assistance.

I also consider it prudent that I take legal advice in New Zealand. I have requested a Wellington barrister Dr GJ Harley to assist me with your enquiry and with any other that my follow. If there are any other particular matters that you would like me to address, please let me know what they are.

Because I travel frequently, email communication is the most convenient and effective for me. I am happy to answer any further questions in correspondence.

Yours faithfully,
Owen G. Glenn

RIP to WRP

You'd never write him off, but surely now, Peters is gone. The "neutron bomb" has been dropped, but by Owen Glenn - Peters knew, because Peters asked and Peters thanked.

The Herald says:

Expatriate billionaire Owen Glenn says New Zealand First leader Winston Peters personally solicited a $100,000 donation he made to his lawyer Brian Henry.

Mr Glenn made the claim in a written statement to Parliament's privileges committee, released this morning.

Mr Peters has previously said he had no knowledge of any donations from Mr Glenn until Mr Henry informed him of the $100,000 donation in July.

In a written statement to Parliament's privileges committee, released this morning, Mr Glenn said Mr Peters had sought the donation from him.

"The payment was made by me to assist funding the legal costs incurred personally by Rt Hon Winston Peters MP concerning his election petition dispute, at his request.

" Mr Peters sought help from me for this purpose in a personal conversation, some time after I had first met him in Sydney.

"I agreed to help in the belief that this step would also assist the Labour Party in its relationship with Mr Peters. I supported the Labour Party."

Peters - Kingmaker or condemned

Homepaddock carries a link to a story by Dene McKenzie in this morning's Otago Daily Times reflecting on the likelihood of New Zealand First supporting the ETS legislation. McKenzie says:

Controversy continues to whirl around him, but New Zealand First leader Winston Peters will today be in the familiar role of kingmaker as the Government awaits his decision on whether or not his party will support its emissions trading scheme.

The Green Party yesterday announced its support, leaving NZ First to announce what concessions it has wrung from the Government in return for its backing.

Without the support of the seven NZ First MPs, along with the six Greens, the legislation cannot proceed.

Prime Minister Helen Clark, who has made no secret that this is cornerstone legislation for her, yesterday said talks with Mr Peters had been positive.

"I never want to pre-empt positions that parties may take. But he and his party have been very constructively engaged with us for a long period of time around the scheme, so we are just carrying on those talks."


Now this puts Clark in a very interesting position following yesterday's revelations in the House. She accepts Winston Peters's word because he is an "Honourable Member". She will accept the support of Peters's party to rush through the flawed and compromised ETS legislation which is so dear to her. But for how much longer can she afford to cut Peters as much slack as she has to date?

Helen Clark is already tainted by her support of Peters. Today he faces not only a further Privileges Committee hearing, but doubtless there will be more to come when the House resumes at 2pm. At times yesterday, he looked like a condemned man.

This, of course, is the reality of MMP politics. The tail regularly wags the dog. Which seems to be an appropriate analogy in this case - the ETS legislation is a dog, and Parliament is going to once again pass important legislation while pressured for time. And if we carry the tail/dog analogy a step further and say that NZ First is the tail - whereabouts does the tail join the dog?

Question 5 - the video

Courtesy of WhaleOil, here is the full video of Question Five from yesterday - yes, THAT question, all 30 minutes of it. Make yourself a cuppa and watch with interest - normally with videos I'd say "enjoy", but sadly, this is not that kind of video!



Hat-tip: WhaleOil

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The allegations against Peters

Since the barely credible scenes we witnessed in Parliament this afternoon, all the attention seems to have been on the apalling Speakership of Margaret Wilson, and the ejection of Rodney Hide, after the frustration of not being able to ask his questions got the better of him. But there's a whole lot more to this saga than that.

Over on Stuff, Grant Fleming has the story of the allegations against Winston Peters, and they are as serious as any allegations against a Member of Parliament in the 35+ years that I've been following politics - read this:

ACT leader Rodney Hide has made explosive allegations that New Zealand First was paid off by Simunovich Fisheries to stop leader Winston Peters making corruption claims against it.

The allegations, made under parliamentary privilege, revolve around Simunovich Fisheries, which was at the centre of a 2003 parliamentary committee inquiry into the allocation of quota for a crustacean called scampi.

Around the time Mr Peters accused the company of corrupt behaviour, but he later recanted, saying the claims did not stand up to scrutiny. The committee subsequently cleared Simunovich of wrongdoing.

In 2004 when Mr Peters was asked if Simunovich Fisheries had donated any money to NZ First he replied: "I'm saying no". But this month he refused to repeat the denial in Parliament.

Mr Hide's allegations, included in questions to Prime Minister Helen Clark on the Government's stance on corruption, included:

- that a businessmen had told The Dominion Post newspaper he was one of several people Simunovich boss Peter Simunovich had given cheques of $9999 in 2002 to pass on to NZ First in return for Mr Peters stopping allegations of wrongdoing by Simunovich Fisheries and he had said that "sure enough within a couple of weeks Winston Peters did shut up";

- that a statement from the businessman, who was now afraid for his safety, had been passed on to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO);

- that the businessman claimed Mr Peters had gone to meet Mr Simunovich to discuss the evidence of corruption and had stated that for a payment of $50,000 "we would just slowly get rid of it";

- that the businessman had kept the bank records.

All of this is now in Hansard for eternity. Allegations that New Zealand's most controversial poltician since Sir Robert Muldoon accepted money to "shut up" on allegations of corruption before a Select Committee inquiry. Allegations that one of New Zealand's most senior politicians withheld information from a Select Committee inquiry. Allegations that the Prime Minister seems prepared to overlook for political reasons, relying on the word of the Rt Hon Member in question. Doubtless, the Prime Minister's Court of Public Opinion will judge this matter, the sooner the better.

Update on Q5 - What a disgrace!

I'm with DPF - there is only one word to describe Margaret Wilson's leadership in the House this afternoon, and that is disgraceful. Not only was it blatantly partisan, but it seemed to have no other purpose that to save Winston Peters's reputation, not to mention his backside.

The allegations made by Hide were as serious as could be made against a Member of Parliament - that Peters received money to hush up allegations of corruption in the scampi industry. And yet Peters was allowed to dominate the exchanges with points of order that were rebutted by Rodney Hide and Gerry Brownlee. And yet time and time again Wilson ruled in favour of Peters, frustrating Hide to the point where he was thrown out of the House.

I will post the full transcript as soon as it appears on the Parliament website, so readers can make their own judgment. But here's mine. For many months I have maintained that Margaret Wilson is the second-worst Speaker in my memory; second only to the late Dr Gerry Wall. After today, Margaret Wilson is second to no-one.

UPDATE: In a very rare move, 3News has the footage of this afternoon's extraordinary events BEFORE the news bulletin

UPDATE #2: It's too long to post on its own, but here's the link to the transcript of Question 5 this afternoon. Read it, and judge for yourself.

An epitaph for the Greens

So now it's official. The Greens are no longer a party of principle. The party has announced this afternoon that it is supporting a watered-down version of the ETS legislation.

What makes this matter worse is that the Greens have gone through a sham process of public consultation to "help" them reach a pre-determined outcome. And they now publicly admit that the legislation they are supporting is flawed - this from Jeanette Fitzsimons:

"It was a difficult decision because we do not believe that emissions trading, in itself, will do much at all to reduce emissions.

"The biggest danger of this legislation is that it will reassure people that climate change has been addressed and we can get on with business as usual. Nothing could be further from the truth.

"We did not achieve an independent carbon authority, but instead allocation plans will be scrutinised by Parliament, which will have the opportunity to overturn them if they are not fair and effective.

"The Minister has admitted that this trading scheme will reduce projected emissions by only 2 percent. Far more than that is needed, and quickly, if the world is to avoid the huge financial, social and environmental costs of a rapidly changing climate.

"The Greens will continue to fight for greater energy efficiency standards, better and more public transport, accelerated technology change, and a host of practical emissions reduction technologies which will save far more carbon than trading will.

"A price on carbon will help to encourage sustainable alternatives to our energy wasting, unsustainable, fossil fuel-based way of life. It is a start, but it is not nearly enough."

The Greens currently hover around the five percent MMP threshhold. Today's announcement should ensure that this year's election will be essentially a first past the post contest. The Greens have sold out to Labour, and will reap what they have sown when the polls close later in the year.