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Pacific Region—Governments

Thursday 31 July 2008 Hansard source (external site)

Hide6. RODNEY HIDE (Leader—ACT) Link to this
to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

What actions, if any, has he taken to promote honest, transparent, and accountable Governments in the Pacific region?

PetersRt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Minister of Foreign Affairs) Link to this

There are many areas where New Zealand’s approaches to its bilateral relationships, including its development programmes, promote good governance. Fiji is the most obvious example of where I have been closely involved, following the military coup in 2006, in promoting a return to democracy. More recently, I participated in the ministerial contact group that visited Fiji and sent strong signals to Commodore Bainimarama about the need for him to meet his commitment to hold a free, fair, and open election by March 2009.

HideRodney Hide Link to this

How can New Zealand have any credibility in advocating for openness and transparency in other countries if he will not explain what happened to the money in the Spencer Trust; and why will he not take the opportunity he now has in the House to explain what happened to Sir Robert Jones’ $25,000 that he, Winston Peters, solicited?

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

As the member knows, questions must relate specifically to ministerial responsibility. As far as the question relates to that, the Minister may address it, but the Minister is not required to address anything that deals with party matters or with offices held outside the ministerial portfolio.

HideRodney Hide Link to this

I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I respect that ruling, but there is a point here. As the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Peters, on behalf of New Zealand, is advocating for openness and transparency, and indeed a free media. There is a question mark about how he can do that job as a Minister when he does not practise what he preaches here in New Zealand.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

No, the first part of the question, as I ruled, is in order as it relates to the Government’s policy, for which the member has ministerial responsibility.

PetersRt Hon WINSTON PETERS Link to this

I have been at pains to point out to Pacific countries that they must abide by the rule of law. That is important. I have also given them some examples of how that is not done. Why, for example, has Mr Hide never explained why it was so necessary to divert the New Zealand Herald from an incident on Waiheke Island, where ACT was holding a caucus retreat, to one of Richard Prebble’s Wellington residences being used as an electorate office—which Mr Hide told Audrey Young about? Why did he do that?

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

I am not sure what relevance that has.

PetersRt Hon WINSTON PETERS Link to this

It has every relevance, because it goes to the issue of transparency and honesty, and we are going to have that from Mr Hide today.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

This is why the questions and the answers must relate to ministerial responsibility. The first part did; the second part did not.

HideRodney Hide Link to this

I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I am quite happy to give the answer if I can ask the question.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

Please be seated; that is silly.

EnglishHon Bill English Link to this

Does the Minister believe that it is honest, transparent, and accountable government for a Minister of the Crown not to answer questions about a $100,000 donation he or his party received from a donor who was also the major donor to his party’s coalition partner, and can the Minister account for donations of—

PetersRt Hon WINSTON PETERS Link to this

I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Every lawful explanation has been given, and the member has no right to come here, as he does, with such unclean hands on this issue and think he will get away with some little inquisition. I am sorry, but he has demonstrated over the last few years that he knows nothing of electoral law, or of any other law—

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

That is not a point of order. I go back to the ruling I gave before, which is that there must be ministerial responsibility. If the member wishes to frame his question so there is a clear accountability for ministerial responsibility, then that is fine, but the question cannot relate to any other role the member may have.

MarkRon Mark Link to this

Supplementary question.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

The Hon Bill English has not yet finished his question.

EnglishHon Bill English Link to this

When the Minister advocates for honest, transparent, and accountable government in the Pacific, what would he say about a Minister in a Government in the Pacific who could not account for a $100,000 donation to that Minister, or for a series of donations from sectors for which he was responsible; and can he confirm whether the Mad Hatter’s tea party he referred to yesterday was a meeting of the trustees of the Spencer Trust?

PetersRt Hon WINSTON PETERS Link to this

I will deal with the National Party next week, but today I am going to deal with Mr Hide. As an example, I have told people around the Pacific that when one takes office space from a businessman, such as is disclosed in this correspondence, one is bound to declare it. The ACT party has taken $20,000 per year in Wellington from a senior businessman, and nowhere is there any declaration of that in anything to do with the Parliamentary Service—as by law the ACT party is required to do.

BrownleeGerry Brownlee Link to this

I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. As interesting as that answer might sound to Ministers in the Pacific, it really does not, in any way, answer the question that was asked of Mr Peters. The answer did not address the question, so he would have been better to just sit there and say nothing. The question was about what advice Mr Peters would give to Ministers who are unable to explain large donations.

PetersRt Hon WINSTON PETERS Link to this

Speaking to the point of order, I say the fact is that one can, by way of analogy, demonstrate to Pacific politicians what cannot be done inside the law from the way that Mr Hide and the ACT party acted. I am saying ACT received $20,000 from a businessman, here is the evidence of that, and ACT never declared that in respect of its Wellington office.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

That is the difficulty with those sorts of questions; very long bows start to be drawn.

EnglishHon Bill English Link to this

I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Earlier on you ruled out questions that related to any activity that may not be directly related to the Minister’s responsibilities, and now you are allowing answers about matters that have absolutely nothing to do with the Minister’s responsibilities.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

No, the member asked a question, he rephrased the question, and I allowed it because he had rephrased it in a way that related to ministerial responsibility. The Minister replied by way of analogy, and he has just explained that. The answer may not satisfy everyone, but it was consistent with what is required.

MarkRon Mark Link to this

Can the Minister give the House two more examples of honest, open, and transparent governance?

PetersRt Hon WINSTON PETERS Link to this

Without any difficulty. By way of analogy, I have made it very well known that an MP who has had, for example, a Remuera office for 9 years and never declared that on any documentation will be in trouble. Also, I point out that an MP—

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

Would the Minister please be seated. The question must relate to the Pacific region. If the question and the answer could be related to that, then that would be within the Standing Orders.

PetersRt Hon WINSTON PETERS Link to this

Madam Speaker—[ Interruption] Oh, they will when they see the documentation, of course. That is the difference between that member and me. We are in the Pacific; New Zealand is a Pacific nation. I am giving a pathetic Pacific example: Mr Hide. The second part of my answer is that it is not honest or transparent to pay huge legal fees—like Jack Hodder’s big legal fees—to get a change of member, from Donna Awatere Huata to an Asian member, and for the Asian chapter to pay for those fees. That, again, is what Mr Hide condones and has kept secret all this time.

WoolertonR Doug Woolerton Link to this

Can the Minister tell us, in the interests of transparency, whether he can think of any other instances of weird behaviour—in the Pacific or elsewhere—that he can reveal to the House for us?

PetersRt Hon WINSTON PETERS Link to this

When it comes to the issues of honesty and transparency, surely that would extend to telling the people of New Zealand who paid for ACT’s thousands and thousands of dollars’ worth of free telephoning at election time. I ask Mr Hide whether the name Rod Deane rings a bell.

HideRodney Hide Link to this

Can I answer the question?

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

I have called for a supplementary question.

HideRodney Hide Link to this

He actually said that I should not ask these questions—

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

Is this a question?

HideRodney Hide Link to this

—because he would come after me—

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

Is this a question?

HideRodney Hide Link to this

—that is it; that is actually it. That is why I should not ask questions—because he will ask whether I know Rod Deane. How can the Minister of Foreign Affairs advocate for openness and transparency when, hypothetically—

HideRodney Hide Link to this

—by analogy, there is a Minister here who has said New Zealand First “has had no big-business backing since its inception”, yet the Dominion Post has a New Zealand First deposit slip for $19,998 that shows New Zealand First has received big-business backing? I tell Mr Peters to answer that one.

PetersRt Hon WINSTON PETERS Link to this

With the greatest of ease. As I told the journalists on the way to the House today, any moron who knew anything about a political party and its expenses would be able to explain the Dominion Post’s big disclosure on Thursday morning. I actually read it last night, of course; I work long hours, as members know. I was very pleased to see that my description of that journalist is proving to be more correct each day. But here is the real point. It is important to note, in the interests of honesty and transparency, that prominent businessmen from the Business Roundtable—whom I am happy to name—who donated to the ACT party were known around the ACT party office as “the girls” and had to be given whatever they wanted. I ask Mr Hide whether that is true or false.

HideRodney Hide Link to this

In the interests of fostering transparency and openness in the Pacific, will the Minister of Foreign Affairs declare that the $19,998 revealed in the Dominion Post today was not a donation from big business; or can the Minister not do that because it is the truth and he is a liar?

PetersRt Hon WINSTON PETERS Link to this

I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

Yes. The member should withdraw and apologise for the last comment. He knows that is unparliamentary.

HideRodney Hide Link to this

I withdraw and apologise.

PetersRt Hon WINSTON PETERS Link to this

The fact is, of course, that anyone who wanted to make an inquiry there would inquire of the party’s treasurer about that fact. But, of course, no such inquiry was made. That is Mr Kitchin’s style, of course, but I will tell members more about him as time goes by. In the meantime, on the subject of honesty and transparency in the Pacific, I say Mr Hide never did tell Richard Prebble that it was he who told the New Zealand Herald about Mr Prebble allegedly cheating the Parliamentary Service by claiming that his Wellington residence was an electorate office. Mr Hide did that because the New Zealand Herald was on to another story, and that was the last thing he wanted to be published when he was out at Waiheke Island at the retreat.

MarkRon Mark Link to this

Are there any other examples of a failure to apply the normal standards of honesty, transparency, and accountability that he might like to highlight in his discussions with Pacific Foreign Ministers?

PetersRt Hon WINSTON PETERS Link to this

I have been at particular pains to point out to Pacific States the importance of their knowing who they have got coming through their country. One example of this matter would be a totally undesirable immigrant called Peron, who was brought into the Pacific on Mr Hide’s recommendation, and who was introduced to the ACT convention after Mr Hide had become the leader, with the request that those present all stand and clap him. This person has since been kicked out as a result of his promotion of utterly and totally objectionable publications—a friend of Mr Hide.

WoolertonR Doug Woolerton Link to this

Can the Minister tell us where else the twin tests of honesty and transparency have not been met in the Pacific region?

PetersRt Hon WINSTON PETERS Link to this

That is a very good question. I think it is important to stick to honesty and transparency in the Pacific, so we should point out that thousands and thousands of dollars—millions, in fact—are owed to creditors who are not being paid for a golf course development near Queenstown that Mr Hide promoted. Mr Hide turned the first sod. How appropriate was that?

HideRodney Hide Link to this

Why does the Minister of Foreign Affairs not actually practise what he preaches to the rest of us; and will he declare to the House that the $19,998 was not a donation from big business, and that he was not misleading New Zealanders, but was being honest and transparent, when he said that New Zealand First “has had no big-business backing since its inception”?

PetersRt Hon WINSTON PETERS Link to this

Mr Hide and a number of people in the media in this country have been going on about this matter for 2 weeks, and they have ended up with doughnuts, because they have not got any of the facts, they have not made the proper inquiries, and their understanding of the law is pathetic in the extreme. But the good news is we are not going to be deterred by that. We know what they are trying to do: get rid of us before the election, and, in fact, have a snap election now. That is what their real purpose is. I have news for them and for the journalists in the press gallery, and it is all bad.

HideRodney Hide Link to this

I seek leave to table a New Zealand Herald column from 1 March in which Mr Peters is quoted as saying that New Zealand First “has had no big-business backing”.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? Yes, there is objection.

HideRodney Hide Link to this

I seek leave to table—and I have been reading Mr Peters’ speeches—a speech made by Mr Peters on 24 June 2008, in which he railed against corruption in other States.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? Yes, there is objection.

HideRodney Hide Link to this

I seek leave to table a speech made by the Rt Hon Winston Peters on human rights, democracy, and prosperity.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? Yes, there is.

HideRodney Hide Link to this

Finally, I seek leave to table a speech made by the New Zealand First leader, Winston Peters, on 25 May 2005, in which he said that New Zealand First does not serve the interests of big business—

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? Yes, there is.

MarkRon Mark Link to this

Are there any other words of advice that the Minister might impart to Foreign Ministers of other Pacific Island nations in respect of how honesty, transparency, and accountability do work and how they do not work?

PetersRt Hon WINSTON PETERS Link to this

That is a marvellous question. They do not work when an MP does not disclose that for 9 years his Remuera office has been the subject of declarable donations, or that the rent for his Wellington office space—according to a businessman and landlord—was $20,000 per year, which was never declared; or, worse still, that Mr Prebble, when his party leader, received a letter, which the New Zealand Herald knew about, about an incident at Waiheke Island, and, to divert the New Zealand Herald, Mr Prebble was potted by Rodney Hide on the question of his parliamentary residence in Wellington being an ACT office. That is dishonest in the extreme.

HideRodney Hide Link to this

Would not the best way to advance openness and honesty in the Pacific be for the Minister of Foreign Affairs to take the opportunity in this House to seek leave to explain whether he sought $25,000 from Sir Robert Jones, and to explain what the Spencer Trust is and where the money went? That would actually promote honesty and transparency in the Pacific far more than the old windbag going on these drunken trips does.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

No. The member knows that using such abusive language is not acceptable in this House. He will withdraw that reference, please.

PetersRt Hon WINSTON PETERS Link to this

Because the member decided to descend to that level, I will tell the House what is not being honest and transparent—anywhere in the world, in fact. At a recent parliamentary function, an MP pretended that a woman friend was his new girlfriend, introduced her to the press gallery as such, and also introduced that same person in a Koru lounge as such, when he knew, demonstrably and palpably, that that information was not correct.

Hon Members

Who’s your girlfriend, Rodney!

HideRodney Hide Link to this

Madam Speaker—[ Interruption] Point of order, Madam Speaker.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

Point of order, Rodney Hide.

HideRodney Hide Link to this

It was not you, Madam Speaker!

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

That comment was uncalled for; everyone knows I have taste and style.

HideRodney Hide Link to this

I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I know that, Madam Speaker, and I know that my style is not yours.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

What is your point of order, please? Then Gerry Brownlee, point of order.

BrownleeGerry Brownlee Link to this

I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Entertaining as that commentary from Mr Peters might have been—it almost rivalled the Alice in Wonderland story—he has no ministerial responsibility for that sort of thing. So could we get an answer from him, and could he address the question that was asked?

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

No. Please be seated. I have valiantly tried to define ministerial responsibility, but the questions were technically within the context of the Pacific region, so they were, in fact, answered.

SmithHon Dr Nick Smith Link to this

So that’s the answer—to say that?

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

No, do not be ridiculous.

PetersRt Hon WINSTON PETERS Link to this

I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I am, after all, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and I have just explained a very foreign affair that is going on right under the nose of the press gallery—

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

That is not sensible. Look, we are coming close to bringing this House into disrepute, so would members please calm down.

HideRodney Hide Link to this

Point of order—

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

If it is not a point of order, the member will have a very short stay in this House.

HideRodney Hide Link to this

I think I might sit down at this juncture, Madam Speaker.

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