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.