A Week of It:
By The Scoop Team
During this week, which has been dominated by insults flying between National and Labour over campaign spending, A Week of It hunkered down and spent the week trawling through electorate candidates returns to see who was in the money - donations and spending wise.
The biggest recipient of anonymous donor largesse turned out to be National's failed Wellington central candidate Mark Blumsky. Over the course of the campaign Mr Blumsky's coffers where aided by an anonymous donation of $38,500.
According to a spokesman for the Chief Electoral Officer a donation of this magnitude does not necessarily need to be left in brown paper bags in the candidates letter box – however the candidate themselves (in this case Mark Blumsky) must be blissfully unaware of where the donation originated from.
(note: When contacted by A Week of It Mr Blumsky seemed certain his donations had gone through a trust and seemed surprised they had been included on the return as anonymous.)
While Mr Blumsky was the largest recipient of anonymous donations there were other MPs whose campaigns received more financial help in regards to total donations.
National's successful Aoraki candidate Joanne Goodhew was certainly popular with donors.
Ms Goodhew received $20,000 from the Aoraki electorate to help unseat sitting candidate Jim Sutton. Ms Goodhew also received:
$10,000 from the Nationalist Trust, $5213 from the Otago electorate, $5000 from an A Hubbard of Timaru and $2000 from an S McCauley of Timaru
While many campaigns would have been happy with more than $42,000 in donations the largesse of anonymous donors had Ms Goodhew's war-chest overflowing to the tune of $51, 249.
Of the $51,000 in donations received over $17,000 was spent on directly attributable election advertising.
One prominent MP taking no chances of a slim campaign war-chest was National's high profile finance spokesperson, John Key. Mr Key appears to have donated $10,000 to his own campaign in order to win the safe seat of Helensville. Mr Key's campaign was also assisted by another $35,000 in donations:
$10,000 from a Parnell neighbour S Hall, $15,000 from a T Pena – address unknown, $5000 from Greymouth petroleum and $5000 from Newnhaven capital group
Of the $45,000 in donations to Mr Key's campaign $13,295 was spent on directly attributable election advertising.
National's Tauranga candidate Bob Clarkson had so many anonymous donations, whoever was filing his return was unable to accurately record how much each anonymous donation was worth. According to Mr Clarkson's return the grand total of his anonymous donations was $16,500. The total of $16,500 evidently came from seven donations that ranged between $1000 and $5000.
Mr Clarkson himself appears to have invested $15,000 in taking Tauranga off NZ First Leader Winston Peters. Overall Mr Clarkson's campaign received $32,500 in donations. After a court battle over election spending a High Court judgment found Mr Clarkson to have spent $18,413 on directly attributable election advertising.
Other MP's who enjoyed the wider public's financial support were:
- National's Northcote MP Dr Jonathon Coleman who received $31,000 in donations – $1000 coming from a John Banks of Radio Pacific.
- Labour MP Shane Jones who received $24,700 in donations ($2,200 of which came from anonymous donors). Mr Jones spent $10,962 unsuccessfully challenging National's John Carter for Northland.
- Labour Cabinet Minister Damien O'Connor who received $22,499 overall in donations ($16,999 of which came from anonymous donations).
Of the MPs who got the best value for money, few could beat Labour's Paul Swain, who received $7000 in donations (all anonymous) and spent just over $3,000. Mr Swain had an election night majority of 18681 - 8000 votes ahead of his nearest rival.
National's Nathan Guy was the candidate that pushed the envelope of election spending the most - clocking up an election advertising spend of $19,652. Mr Guy, National's unsuccessful Otaki candidate was just $342.00 from blowing the candidates spending cap.
Rodney Hide Spends Nothing On Radio TV or Postage To Win Epsom
One candidate who was rumoured by opponents to have pushed the election spending envelope was ACT leader and current Epsom MP, Rodney Philip Hide. However, according to Mr Hide's paperwork, the MP for Epsom was safely under the $20,000 allowed by law.
Mr Hide's return shows he spent only $17,236 to take the blue ribbon seat from National's Dr Richard Worth. Dr Worth's campaign was miserly in comparison, a tad over $10,000 was spent by National, in trying to ward off Mr Hide's challenge.
The estranged wife of former ACT Leader Richard Prebble – Doreen, showed she still supports ACT and was willing to donate $1000 to make certain Parliament still has an ACT MP wandering its corridors.
A Week of It understands an era in New Zealand journalism is coming to an end with Gordon Campbell, onetime rock critic, political columnist and news breaker for the Listener being made redundant. In his time at the Listener Mr Campbell interviewed among others Billy Idol, West Indian cricket great Vivian Richards and the unfortunate ex Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Laurie Greig. Mr Campbell's interview with Mr Greig was of course the catalyst for the demise of Mr Greig from his intelligence oversight position.
In the past year Mr Campbell has provided in-depth interviews with all the major political players interviewing Winston Peters, Helen Clark and Dr Don Brash prior to the election.
As Mr Campbell (a staff writer) departs the Listener, journalist Deborah Hill Cone has been added to the staff roster to provide a media watch column - presumably quite different from Russell Brown's current media watch column Wide Area News. Ms Hill Cone formerly of the NBR will recognise a few familiar faces at the Listener. Former NBR journalist Nick Smith is currently a staff writer and former Business Roundtable PR whizz and current NBR columnist, David Young, is the Listener's business columnist. Former NBR hard-man Graeme Hunt is now also a regular contributor to the Listener.
A Week of It interviewed New Zealand foreign correspondent, Jon Stephenson in Islamabad. Jon Stephenson is reporting from Pakistan on the plight of victims of the 2005 earthquake that destroyed parts of Kashmir region.