Aug 31, 2008

What Tuesday's Question Time Will Look Like

This from Ruth Laugesen in the Sunday Star Times

Clark's lack of candour may be a turning point for this government. While Peters has been centre-stage, Clark has taken a potentially hugely damaging political body blow this past week. Trust was at the very heart of her successful campaign to sweep out National and her popularity stemmed from her willingness to be straight with the public. Her economy with the truth over what she knew about the Glenn affair seems certain to deal a hammer blow to her reputation.
When parliament meets on Tuesday Clark is expected to face a barrage of questions over what she knew and when and she may yet be called before parliament's privileges committee in relation to the Glenn donation.
The committee meets on Thursday, and may yet ask further questions of Glenn.
Peters stayed holed-up at his partner Jan Trotman's Herne Bay, Auckland, home yesterday, while his QC spent 30 minutes with the SFO just after 10am.
Peter Williams said he gave the SFO the statement from the Spencer Trust, which had received the Vela and Jones donations, and "showed all the entries and debits are perfectly clear".
Asked if the donations were declared, Peter Williams said, "Oh, I don't know about that rubbish, I couldn't discuss that" but he said there was no evidence of fraud.
"It is absolutely disgraceful.
"The press of New Zealand has combined in a tidal wave of prejudice trying to besmirch him.
"It's like a whole lot of sharks in the bloody sea around some sort of thing they want to eat."
Under new electoral spending rules requiring
greater transparency, any donation over $20,000 has to be declared within 10 days.
Asked why Peters had not opened up the books earlier to clear up the matter, Peter Williams said it was up to the accusers to "do their homework" and provide the evidence.
Mike Williams would not comment on whether his meeting with Glenn had taken place in Nice, in the south of France, in the past few months, as some reports have suggested.
The Labour Party has previously declared $500,000 in donations from Glenn, and was forced to acknowledge a $100,000 loan earlier in the year when Glenn made that public.
Mike Williams said yesterday that though he regularly met with potential donors, to date "Mr Glenn has not made a fresh donation to the Labour Party."
He said it was his duty to liaise with potential donors.
Glenn last week told the privileges committee that Peters had asked him for a donation, contradicting the claim of Peters and his lawyer Brian Henry that it had been Henry who dealt with Glenn. Peters has continued to claim he knew nothing of the 2005 donation until informed by his lawyer in July.
National leader John Key said it was "bizarre that the Labour Party have enough confidence to try and take more money off Owen Glenn, but not enough confidence to believe him when it comes to his version of Winston Peters' donations scandal".
"The prime minister now needs to tell New Zealanders on how many occasions she raised the contradictary version of events with Mr Peters and Mr Glenn, and furthermore, why she didn't instruct Mr Peters to directly contact Mr Glenn when he clearly refuted his version of events in February," said Key.
Prime Minister Helen Clark refused to answer questions from the Star-Times yesterday.