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Rt Hon Winston Peters—Ministerial Status

Tuesday 23 September 2008 (advance copy) Hansard source (external site)

Key2. JOHN KEY (Leader of the Opposition) Link to this
to the Prime Minister

What is the status of the Rt Hon Winston Peters in her ministry following yesterday’s tabling of the report of the Privileges Committee?

ClarkRt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister) Link to this

Mr Peters continues to stand aside from his portfolios.

KeyJohn Key Link to this

Does the Prime Minister stand by her statement in the House on Tuesday, 26 August, that she accepts Mr Peters’ word “unless something arises out of the Privileges Committee …”, and does she not see that the Privileges Committee’s clear finding that Mr Peters committed a contempt of Parliament, quite clearly comes within her definition of something arising from that committee?

ClarkRt Hon HELEN CLARK Link to this

I certainly will not listen to any lectures on truthfulness from that member, after yesterday’s revelations.

KeyJohn Key Link to this

Can the Prime Minister confirm that the Privileges Committee has heard evidence from Labour’s biggest donor, Owen Glenn, from Mr Peters, and from his lawyer, and clearly accepted the evidence of Mr Glenn—the Privileges Committee accepted the word of Mr Glenn but not that of Mr Peters or of the lawyer—but that she has been happy to accept the word of Mr Peters over those people? Why is that?

ClarkRt Hon HELEN CLARK Link to this

There is one person’s word I cannot accept—it is the word of that member to the public and the media.

KeyJohn Key Link to this

Is the reason the Prime Minister does not want to answer any of these questions that she is locked at the hip to Winston Peters, and she has been covering up for him as well?

ClarkRt Hon HELEN CLARK Link to this

The only cover-up in this House is by Mr Key, who in an 8-week period asked written and oral questions in Parliament, launched an Official Information Act request, bought and traded Tranz Rail shares profitably, and claimed he never spoke on the subject while he did that. That was false, I say to Mr Key.

PetersRt Hon Winston Peters Link to this

Does the Prime Minister recall the statements by Mr Key just a few hours ago when he said he had forgotten about those extra shares, but now he would fill out the form and correct that; does that not remind members of the word that begins with “h” and cannot be said in this House?

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

That was unnecessary, so I ask the member to withdraw that word beginning with “h”. We all know what is meant.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

Please, just do it!

PetersRt Hon Winston Peters Link to this

I withdraw “h”.

BrownleeGerry Brownlee Link to this

I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The question itself is out of order. The Minister asked whether Mr Key would fill out a form. There was no Register of Pecuniary Interests of Members of Parliament until his party put it in place.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

That is a matter of debate.

SwainHon Paul Swain Link to this

I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I thought that was a bit unfair; I thought the “h” word the member was referring to was “hollow”, as in hollow men.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

That was not a point of order, either.

ClarkRt Hon HELEN CLARK Link to this

To reply to the original question, I say there seem to be a lot of things Mr Key forgot: it was anywhere from 25,000 to 50,000 shares at any one time, and, oh, maybe it was 100,000 shares. I bet that the member, as someone who thought about his shares every morning when he woke up—unlike any normal person—would know that he bought and sold shares profitably while he was raising questions publicly in this House and in committees, and he did not tell the truth to the news media about it.

KeyJohn Key Link to this

Can the Prime Minister explain why her Ministers, her staff, and her research unit have so much time to go through, line by line, my share dealings from 5 years ago—

MarkRon Mark Link to this

I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Can I bring to your attention the obvious difference there. We were sitting in the cross benches trying to hear the Prime Minister’s answer and were totally unable to hear anything clearly—

MarkRon Mark Link to this

It is a point of order, I say to David, and I ask him to shut up.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

Please be seated. The member knows that that was inappropriate. Please withdraw that comment.

MarkRon Mark Link to this

I withdraw.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

The point of order should be made succinctly.

MarkRon Mark Link to this

With the amount of noise, we could not hear the answer. By contrast, as soon as Mr Key got to his feet to ask his question, the rest of the House was silent so that he could ask it. I ask that from here forth we are able to hear the Prime Minister’s answers as clearly as we are allowing Mr Key to have his questions heard.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

I think the level of interventions was getting to the stage where it was impossible to hear.

KeyJohn Key Link to this

Can the Prime Minister explain why her Ministers, her staff, and her research unit have so much time to go through my 5-year-old share dealings line by line but she has absolutely no energy or interest to do the same thing when it comes to Winston Peters; or is the answer that she does not need to do that—2 years ago she knew he had accepted a donation, because she had arranged it?

ClarkRt Hon HELEN CLARK Link to this

Of course, when Mr Key makes public statements saying he tells the truth at all times, we as a party opposing his party are going to see what the veracity of those statements is. We have proven that they have no veracity.

MallardHon Trevor Mallard Link to this

Can the Prime Minister comment on the previous question from the Leader of the Opposition, in which he admitted the transactions were his, when he told the media this morning that they belonged to a trust?

ClarkRt Hon HELEN CLARK Link to this

That would be absolutely typical of the flip-flops of this member, who cannot keep to one straight answer from one hour to the next.

PetersRt Hon Winston Peters Link to this

Has the Prime Minister got any reports that suggest that Winston Peters made even 1c out of his involvement in this legal case, in contrast—[ Interruption]—I know that members do not want to hear it, but it will get worse shortly—to Mr Key, who apparently made thousands, which is a conflict of interest?

ClarkRt Hon HELEN CLARK Link to this

I have no evidence that Mr Peters made a cent, as he said. On the other hand, I do have evidence of parliamentary questions lodged by Mr Key in October 2002, April 2003, and again in April 2003, and an Official Information Act request in April 2003; then he purchases in his own name another 50,000 shares; then he meets with people who want to buy Tranz Rail, then he sells those shares bought in his own name, doubles his money, and carries on asking parliamentary questions, all the time—

PetersRt Hon Winston Peters Link to this

I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Mr Key was again allowed to ask his question in relative silence, and then when the Prime Minister started, the braying began right around the National Party benches. This is not acceptable and they should be told to either desist or leave the House.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

In fact, if that level of intervention is heard again—I had warned members once—then members will be asked to leave the House.

KeyJohn Key Link to this

Can the Prime Minister confirm that it really does not matter what came out of the Privileges Committee, it really does not matter what came out of the Serious Fraud Office in relation to the allegations against Winston Peters, and it would not really matter what comes out of the police, because the Prime Minister will not sack Winston Peters, because if she did she would be sacking for the stupidity of getting caught—she arranged the loan through Mike Williams, she is up to her neck in it, and why does she not admit it; she is not an innocent bystander?

ClarkRt Hon HELEN CLARK Link to this

All I can say is that that member can talk about getting caught, because he has been caught red-handed claiming he never spoke in this House while he was an owner of Tranz Rail shares when he was peppering the Minister of Finance with questions, and buying and selling shares at a profit through that time. He stands accused of not being clear and concise, to the point, and straightforward, in this House.

CullenHon Dr Michael Cullen Link to this

Supplementary question, Madam Speaker—[ Interruption]—well the member would have been busted long ago, if that were true. Can the Prime Minister confirm that the Leader of the Opposition just said that Mike Williams arranged the donation from Mr Glenn, but the entire case of the majority in the select committee is that Mr Peters asked Mr Glenn for the donation; and if Mr Key is correct, then how come a majority arrived at its decision on contempt?

ClarkRt Hon HELEN CLARK Link to this

That is just more evidence that the Leader of the Opposition makes it up, just like he made up the idea that he was going to run a clean campaign, when Dr Smith and Mr English are at meetings in Nelson telling smutty jokes about the Deputy Prime Minister as part of their dirty, filthy, unclean campaign.

HideRodney Hide Link to this

Is the Prime Minister telling the public of New Zealand that it is acceptable to her to have a Minister who is running a secret trust that is not known to his party—

PetersRt Hon Winston Peters Link to this

I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. It has been made very clear to the select committee that that allegation is totally false. I should not have to have him corrected, but that is the kind of thing he has been doing around this country for months now. The committee all know, including his own member Heather Roy, that that is false, so would you ask him to desist from telling the House porkies.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

Would the member who is asking the question please make his question succinct and get to the point of it.

HideRodney Hide Link to this

Is the Prime Minister telling the people of New Zealand that it is OK for a Minister in her Government to have money go into a trust but which was meant for New Zealand First; to have money come from secret donors to the tune of $40,000 but not declared under the electoral laws and not declared in the register of pecuniary interests; and to pay that Minister’s legal bills, as reported to the Privileges Committee by the Serious Fraud Office?

ClarkRt Hon HELEN CLARK Link to this

I have no reason to believe that Mr Peters knew any less about the Spencer Trust than Mr Key knew about the Waitemata Trust, for which he personally raised money. But further, I have been advised by the senior Labour representatives on the Privileges Committee that it is not reasonable to hold someone in contempt for a retrospective ruling on what is a gift. If that were to be the case, I look forward to Nick Smith and Bob Clarkson now declaring their gifts on exactly the same basis, which they have not done.

ClarkRt Hon HELEN CLARK Link to this

I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I said that Mr Smith had not declared a gift. It is my understanding that his return does not show the declaration of a gift. He declared he was a beneficiary of a trust. He did not declare that he received a gift from that trust.

SmithHon Dr Nick Smith Link to this

I seek leave to table the letter I received this morning on this very issue—where Dail Jones had laid a letter of complaint—where you have dismissed the complaint.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

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

AndertonHon Jim Anderton Link to this

Why should the Prime Minister take any account whatever of the accusations that Mr Key has made against her, and others, over this political donations issue, when every single thing he has said about his own share transactions in Tranz Rail has proved to be false on almost every occasion?

ClarkRt Hon HELEN CLARK Link to this

The member raises a fair point, because we now cannot believe anything Mr Key said in this House or to the news media, who have him on tape, on the issue of his Tranz Rail shares, which, I repeat, he bought and sold a portion of at a profit while he was peppering the Minister of Finance with questions in this House and through the Official Information Act. Mr Key failed to declare his interest in Tranz Rail, and that, in my understanding, is not acceptable behaviour for a member.

PetersRt Hon Winston Peters Link to this

Has the Prime Minister received any reports of a present MP who failed, when the president of a political party, to disclose an interest in a trust called the Cargill Trust for $1.7 million—a matter that went all the way to the Privy Council, which found against that party—and is that MP Mr Rodney Hide?

ClarkRt Hon HELEN CLARK Link to this

I am not personally aware of that allegation, but I am all ears.

HideRodney Hide Link to this

Does she accept the Serious Fraud Office evidence that $40,000 was given by one donor to the Spencer Trust, which was then paid—

PetersRt Hon Winston Peters Link to this

I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The Privileges Committee heard no such evidence, at all, and Heather Roy, the member’s colleague, can tell him that. So would you please tell him to stop telling the House what is plainly false.

HideRodney Hide Link to this

Does the Prime Minister accept that the Serious Fraud Office evidence was that $40,000 was paid by one anonymous donor to the Spencer Trust—

PetersRt Hon Winston Peters Link to this

I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. For the second time, the select committee was told no such information by the Serious Fraud Office, at all, and Heather Roy, who is sitting there behind Mr Hide, knows that.

HideRodney Hide Link to this

Does she accept the Serious Fraud Office evidence that $40,000 was paid by one anonymous donor to the Spencer Trust, which was then used to pay Brian Henry to cover—

PetersRt Hon Winston Peters Link to this

I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. For the third time, Heather Roy, the member’s colleague, sat on the select committee and knows full well that that allegation, like every other one he has made, is false. I am prepared to ask the members of the committee who are here now for their word, but they know full well that no such information came in that way to the select committee.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

I would ask Rodney Hide when he asks his question—otherwise we will be going on here all afternoon—that his question would, in fact, reflect what was in the report, and we might be able to make some progress.

HideRodney Hide Link to this

Has the Prime Minister seen the wiring diagram from the Serious Fraud Office that shows that $40,000 was given from one donor to the Spencer Trust, which then paid the legal debt—

PetersRt Hon Winston Peters Link to this

I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The Privileges Committee was given no such evidence, and every member on that Privileges Committee knows that, including Heather Roy. In fact, my memory is that the select committee was told that three donors made up the amount of $40,000—

PetersRt Hon Winston Peters Link to this

—and Lianne Dalziel is confirming my memory of that at the select committee. So why is the member persisting and saying something that is plainly, palpably, demonstrably false?

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

We will have another try.

HideRodney Hide Link to this

Has the Prime Minister seen the Serious Fraud Office wiring diagram presented to the Privileges Committee that showed, yes, separate legal entities controlled by the one donor gave $40,000 from the one person—from the one person—to the Spencer Trust, which was used to pay Brian Henry for Bob Clarkson’s legal costs; and does she think it is acceptable for a Minister in her ministry to be receiving $40,000—

PetersRt Hon Winston Peters Link to this

I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The select committee was told that the Serious Fraud Office got its wiring diagram wrong, that it could not even analyse what they were reading, that it went from a law firm’s account to Brian Henry’s account to the National Party’s lawyer’s account to the National Party, which says that Mr Clarkson was on the same footing as Winston Peters; one rule for them, a different one for me.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

I do not think we are making much progress here, so I will refer members to Speaker’s ruling 152/1. I shall read it; it is rather long: “Some supplementary questions are admitted which, if one had the time to analyse them in the way that primary questions are analysed, would be ruled out of order or would require further authentication. However, members should not be permitted to ask a Minister to respond to outlandish assertions. Supplementary questions will be disallowed whenever a member raises a serious objection to their factual accuracy so as to require that a question of that nature be pursued—if it is to be pursued at all—through the normal question system with notice.” I so rule.

HideRodney Hide Link to this

Has the Prime Minister seen the wiring diagram presented by the Serious Fraud Office to the Privileges Committee with money routed through the Spencer Trust to cover Winston Peters’ legal costs to Bob Clarkson, and does she find money moved in that way acceptable for one of her Ministers in her ministry?

ClarkRt Hon HELEN CLARK Link to this

The answer is no, I have not seen the diagram.

HideRodney Hide Link to this

I seek leave, for the Prime Minister’s benefit, to table the wiring diagram.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

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

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