‘Public disquiet' over political donations must be addressed - Andrew Little

Morning Talk 25/10/2018
Photo: Newshub.

Justice Minister Andrew Little says there is public disquiet over how donations to political parties are handled.

The Labour Party has called for a clean-up of electoral donation laws in the wake of Jami-Lee Ross saga, where the rogue MP released a recording that raised concerns over political favours being bought.

Mr Little told RadioLIVE that a clean-up of donation laws is not just about the National Party.

“In the end, public confidence in the totality of our political system means we have to have a donations regime that has a level of transparency and a level of public confidence,” said Mr Little.

Every election, political parties spend up large on everything from billboards and buses.

A huge bulk of the cash comes from party donations - and the Justice Minister says the rules around those donations should be examined to determine if they’re up to scratch.

The Jami-Lee Ross saga has caused concern over donations.

Mr Little told RadioLIVE that donors usually want to have a discussion or conversation following their funding, which he concedes can be “perfectly innocent”.

“But I think the perception from the outside is that it starts to look like if you’re very wealthy or have huge amounts of cash – that you can buy a level of influence because you can have contact and rub shoulders with people who have influence.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says in an ideal world, parties wouldn't have to fundraise at all - raising the spectre of taxpayers covering campaign costs.

Labour’s call for examining the rules comes off the back off the secretly recorded conversation between rebel MP Mr Ross and leader Mr Bridges, where they discussed donations and talked of getting a Chinese candidate on the party list.

National Party president Peter Goodfellow admits that the man mentioned in the recording - Colin Zheng - is now in training at the candidates college to become an MP.

"I've known him for some time, I think he's actually a good potential candidate for us. I encouraged him to enter the college," he says.

But Mr Goodfellow denies that donations buy influence within the National Party.

Listen to the full interview with Andrew Little above.

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