Duncan Garner: NZ First donation debacle threatens to derail Winston Peters in an election year

Opinion 11/02/2020

OPINION: Winston Peters and his party look to me like they are in deep, deep doggy poo. 

He's faced trouble before, and like Houdini, the showman Peters has escaped.

But this time something is significantly different.

All this, of course, relates to whether the party has broken the law around receiving party donations.

Well don't take it from me, take it instead from the independent Electoral Commission.

It has determined that the NZ First Foundation received donations that should have been treated as donations for NZ First, the party.

Here's the rub - the commission says the donations were not properly transmitted to the party and not disclosed as required by law.

I find this to be a truly significant statement.

Firstly, the commission hasn't just sent a benign ruling to the police to look at, it's sent a powerful directive effectively saying NZ First has broken the rules.

The police have wasted little time and put it into the hands of the Serious Fraud Office.

What a mess, and it threatens to derail Peters and his party this election year.

The allegation, unproven as it is so far, is that NZ First was running a scheme to launder their donors through this slush fund, which had about half a million dollars in it. 

The law was specifically changed to stop that kind of secretive smoke and mirrors.

Peters has held this ridiculous position claiming he knows nothing about party funding, so talk to those who do. Listen, no one can fart in that party without Peters knowing about it beforehand. NZ First is his creation, his baby, and no one does anything of significance without his say so. 

Now Jacinda Ardern has a deputy Prime Minister whose party is under investigation from the Serious Fraud Office in an election year.

Can Peters even stay on in his position? 

The answer is yes, he will, for as long as he can and for as long as it's not hurting the PM's popularity.

Duncan Garner hosts The AM Show.