Friday, May 10, 2013

Whose memory failed this time?

Labour's attacks on John Key's memory were blunted when David Shearer suddenly and mysteriously remembered that he has a bank account in New York. Now Labour has had another memory lapse.

We were driving home and caught the 11am news on Newstalk ZB which reported thus:

The Labour Party could be in hot water over its party donation returns.
Papers published by the Electoral Commission show the party received over $430,000 from the estate of Brian Dalley last year.
The sum was donated in four instalments between April and July last year.
However electoral law requires donations of over $30,000 to be declared within 10 working days and there's no record of Labour having done so.
The Electoral Commission hasn't yet clarified whether the law may have been broken but is making inquiries in response to media questions.
Labour says it made an honest mistake with its donation returns.

Goodness; Labour is much more forgiving of its own mistakes than it is of the mistakes of others. But wait, as they say on the advertorials; there's more; read on:

Party Secretary Tim Barnett says they made a mistake but it wasn't deliberate.
"The mistake we made was to not realise that a bequest was actually classified as a donation and therefore had to be immediately declared to the Commission." 

Ought we believe Tim Barnett? After all, we were expected to believe that his party leader remembered to declare his overseas account to the Inland Revenue, but forgot three years in a row to include it on his declaration to the Registrar of Pecuniary Interests. Once is careless, twice is very careless, but three times? Oh dear! Surely a quick call to the Electoral Commission a year ago would have established whether or not the late Brian Dalley's bequest had to be declared.

No; instead we refer Mr Barnett, former MP for Christchurch Central to Whaleoil's Rules of Politics, and especially to Rule #1:

1. If you are explaining, you are losing

A delay of over twelve months in declaring a donation required by law to be declared within 10 working days is inexcusable. And it wasn't a small sum; it was a sum of money more than EIGHT TIMES the size of the sum that Trevor Mallard complained to the Police that John Banks had failed to declare.

Before attacking others for lapses in memory, the Labour Party and its leader should make sure that its own house is in order. At the moment, it patently isn't. 


Nookin said...

I wondered whether a testamentary bequest could be classified as a "donation" and I checked the Electoral Act to see whether the term is defined. It is not.

Used in the ordinary sense, "donation" means "gift" or "contribution" which, clearly, a bequest is.

The fact that it is made by Will is pertinent to the means by which the donation is made and not whether, in fact, it is a donation.

It would be interesting to see the will and whether it referred to a "gift" to the Labour Party. Odds on it does.

No matter which way you look at it, it seems that the Labour Party made a deliberate decision not to disclose and, by the sound of it, did not consider it to be appropriate to sound out the Electoral Commission for advice.

Contrast this with the actions of the Government Communication Security Bureau which believed that it was entitled to assist the SIS (based on the quite clear and express provisions of the Security Intelligence Service Act which enables the SIS to call on the assistance of any person to assist it in its legitimate enquiries. A person so called on is acting under the control of the SIS and is specifically authorised to undertake surveillance work).

I am having some difficulty reconciling the view of the Labour Party that its deliberate inaction was an honest mistake despite the total absence of any justification for it and despite the fact that the ordinary sense of the terminology used militates against such a mistake and yet, on the other hand, actions undertaken by GCSB were so reprehensible as to call for a comprehensive public enquiry, prosecution and damnation of the minister in charge despite the legitimacy of the view taken (founded in the Security Intelligence Service Act) and the fact that the previous Prime Minister had taken exactly the same view -- as had the appointee of the previous Prime Minister.

It sort of follows on from the condemnation of the government following the sale of the Crafar Farms based on principles formulated by the previous Labour Government and applied extensively by the previous Labour government.

Readers of Kiwi Blog will be well aware of a commenter who frequently uses the term "cognitive dissonance". It is a term that involves awareness of irreconcilable or incongruent principles.

Cognitive dissonance can be resolved by looking for a higher principle with which both conflicting principles can be reconciled.

The only "higher" principle in this case appears to be the Labour Party view that the rules that apply to everybody else do not apply to them and that everything done by it in pursuit of power is justifiable.

The man in the street however probably does not see it that way. The man in the street probably sees it as dishonest hypocrisy.

Keeping Stock said...

Excellent analysis Nookin.

bsprout said...

I guess with all this nonsense the most important factor is intent. I find all this point scoring a bit tiresome when it seems that one party's mistake gives the other an excuse for their own.

I was intrigued by what the PM was quoted in saying yesterday (in relation to Gilmore):

"In the end to make a contribution you have to have integrity, and to have integrity there has to be a directness and fullness in your answers."

I fully agree with this but wonder why getting a straight answer from many in this Government is now like getting blood from a stone.

Quintin Hogg said...


It would be reasonably easy to get a copy of the will.

As there was obviously some substance to the testator application for probate would have been made to the appropriate court by his trustees.

Those applications require the will of the testator to be annexed so it becomes a public document.

All you need is a date of death and place of residence and off you go.

Specific gifts usually use the words "give devise and bequeath to ...." for older forms of will or the words "give to ..." in modern forms. what ever way the term gift is described, it is a gift.

Even if the pedant were to say the word "bequest" is used, that makes no difference as a bequest is a testamentary gift.

Nookin said...


It is not the fact of the mistake, so much; nor is it a matter of making excuses.

The objection that I have is the hypocrisy, double standards and point scoring.

This is clearly a case of do as I say and not do as I do. It is the same with the GCSB and OIO. It is simply not open to the labour party to condemn someone for doing something that they once did. It is not open to them to demand a tolerance of themselves for actions that they condemn in others.

The closest analogy that I can think of is the one that you give. If you are satisfied that Key has deliberately fudged some questions then he cannot really demand another standard of integrity from Gilmore. You make that point very clearly and it is not arguable (although I am still minded to accept that Key has not descended anywhere near to the same level as Gilmore). Putting that aside, if you apply the principle to Key then you must apply the same principle to Labour on the issue of its so-called mistake. And if you do, then Labour coming out smelling very badly.

Nookin said...


You are quite right. The same would apply if the gift in this case was of the residue in which case the will may have directed the trustees to hold the balance "on trust for...".

If it was not a debt or payment for services rendered or otherwise for consideration then it was a gift and no amount of hair-splitting or lexical contortion will lead to a different conclusion.

Heesed said...

"I find all this point scoring a bit tiresome..."

Simple solution, stop doing it.

bsprout said...

"Putting that aside, if you apply the principle to Key then you must apply the same principle to Labour on the issue of its so-called mistake. And if you do, then Labour coming out smelling very badly."

Nookin, what many people seem to be acknowledging is that Parliament is beginning to smell badly a lot of the time at present. While not removing responsibility from opposition parties, it is the Government that should be taking a lead in allowing some fresh air into the place. The issues around John Banks, Kim Dotcom, GCSB, Novopay, Parata and Gilmore are now it's responsibilities no matter how much they may want to throw mud elsewhere. The success of this Government is resting on their leadership and their ability to navigate through these issues in a transparent and honorable way.

Keeping Stock said...

Your defence of the Labour Party knows no bounds bsprout. They have broken the law, and there should be consequences for having broken the law.

bsprout said...

Oh dear, KS, my communication skills must have failed me. I thought I had said that neither party are smelling like roses but the Government needs to take the lead in letting some fresh air into Parliament.

I also made a general comment about the importance of intent, which applies to either party. Perhaps you can prove me wrong my quoting something where I directly defended Labour?

Heesed said...

"I find all this point scoring a bit tiresome..."

You seem to thrive on it bsprout.

bsprout said...

Heesed-Suggesting that all parties should take responsibility for their actions and that the government should show leadership in lifting their own game is "point scoring"?


Continually repeating it won't make it correct either.

Heesed said...

You are a frequent commenter here, bsprout. Point scoring is what you do.

Sheesed said...

Heesed says you are scoring points, bsprout. Well done. He and others are failing to score any. You are ahead. Keep that position.