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PM must front on unanswered pledge card questions

Don Brash MP
National Party Leader
20 March 2006

PM has to front on unanswered pledge card questions

The Prime Minister must front up and answer important questions over the authorities’ failure to prosecute the Labour Party on its pledge card and leaflet overspending, says National Party Leader Don Brash.

“The police found there was a prima facie case over the Electoral Act breach involving $446,000 of taxpayers’ money.

“Senior figures in the Labour Party decided to break the law – as the police found prima facie. National wants to know if any are sitting in high office around the Cabinet table.

“But Parliament’s Standing Orders place restrictions on questions we can put to the Prime Minister about this matter in the House.

“That’s because Helen Clark has no ministerial responsibility for the Labour Party. The Speaker ruled as such during 21 February’s question time.

“Given these restrictions, National believes the media has a responsibility to put questions to Helen Clark about the spending.”

Dr Brash says those questions should include:

- Did Helen Clark approve spending of her Leader’s Office budget on the pledge card and leaflet? If not, why not and who did?

- How does she expect New Zealanders to believe the card and leaflet were not integral to Labour’s election campaign when they were featured on the party’s website and in its advertising, and she and her candidates were seen with the cards and talking about their contents throughout the campaign?

- When was Helen Clark, her staff, or the Labour Party told by the Chief Electoral Officer that the card and leaflet was a campaign expense?

- Who made the decision to continue spending campaign funds after Labour became aware that such spending would breach the Electoral Act limit and thus constitute a corrupt practice?

- Will she pay the money back?

“The police’s finding that there was a prima facie case to answer simply confirms that Labour must pay the money back,” says Dr Brash. “If nothing else, they have a moral obligation to pay it back.

“Following on from Paintergate, Speeding-gate and David Benson-Pope, this is at least one prima facie case too far. Taxpayers should now expect a $446,000 refund from Labour.”


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