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.”?
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.