Sep 21, 2008

Las Vegas

Good follow-up article on the Herald on Sunday.

Rodney Hide is following up in Parliament on the dates and details of all refunds. But we doubt we have any answers anytime soon.

Peters told the Herald on Sunday he was too busy campaigning for a universal student allowance to "waste time responding to Rodney Hide's increasingly desperate attempts to gain publicity".
Peters is already in the fight for his political life over claims he breached parliamentary rules by not disclosing a $100,000 donation from Owen Glenn in 2005. The Serious Fraud Office is also investigating what other undisclosed donations to NZ First were spent on.

It is also interesting to read that the issue is so trivial that the PM has jumped in to remind all Ministers again of their responsibilities under the Cabinet Manual with regard to side trips and add-ons

Nevertheless, she [the PM] would use the fact that this issue had become "topical" to "remind all Ministers of requirements in the Cabinet office manual". Hide, however, said that was not good enough and he was seeking assurances that Peters paid for the entire trip, including fight tickets, which could have been anything up to $10,000.

The PM continues to maintain that she only learned about this issue a couple of weeks ago. As Whaleoil has reported, while this may be true, he office and those of several Ministers and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade knew about this serious breach of the rules for a considerable period.

As well as the questions that Rodney Hide has asked in Parliament we would like to know more about the costs around Winston's stay in Las Vegas, food, alcohol, "other entertainment" and who paid. We know that the thresholds for declaring a gift were way below the cost of the tickets for the fight (which is why Winston has to pay the money back to his kind benefactor). But the food, grog and other entertainment can be pretty pricey also at the MGM Grand. And no one did any gambling we suppose?

Has anyone been gambling out there? It is interesting what happens. You pay your money and get given chips belonging to the casino. Then when you have finished gambling you get given real money back for the chips you return, but it is of course different money to that which you paid in.

And of course, while at the Casino you can win lots of money. And there are no receipts for the win. Politicians and business people in the states have been known to be really lucky. They have been known to go into a casino and come out with very large sums of money which they claim, if asked, they have won. And of course, because they have won it, they don't need to declare it as a donation. Fortunately, that is the States and this is New Zealand. We are sure nothing like that would happen to our political and business leaders.

We also want to be assured that no MFAT official or parliamentary services staff (people paid a salary by Parliamentary Services) accompanied Winston to Vegas, either from Europe or Los Angeles or Wellington or Washington and if they did, we would like to see receipts for the refunds for the costs incurred in this purely private visit.