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Brash's predictable fall from moral high ground

20 October 2006

Brash's predictable fall from moral high ground

Don Brash's credibility and judgement are yet again in doubt after his admission today that he used his Parliamentary Leader's Budget to pay for electioneering, Labour Strategist Pete Hodgson said.

Dr Brash's admission on Radio Live that he did in fact pay campaign operative Bryan Sinclair with taxpayers' money follows a week of denials and evasion on the issue, including a denial of the claim just this morning in the Otago Daily Times.

Pete Hodgson said Brash should have listened to commentators' warnings about the dangers of claiming the moral high ground on the election spending debate before using the Auditor General's report to wage a self-righteous attack on the Labour Party.

"Hypocrisy is a word Parliamentarians don't often use, but there is nothing else to describe Don Brash's behaviour," Pete Hodgson said. "When all other parties in Parliament expressed genuine surprise that the Auditor General had adopted a broad definition of electioneering, Brash climbed onto the moral high ground in a cynical move to bolster his flagging leadership.

"A journalist was finally able to extract the truth from Brash today – he too used his taxpayer-funded leadership budget for 'electioneering'. Bryan Sinclair was Brash's top campaign aide, seen by his side constantly in the three months before election day.

"Sinclair is a high-priced, Australian-based political consultant. On his website he states that he has been involved in many election campaigns and that he was Brash's "special advisor". Don Brash needs to come clean on how much taxpayers' funding was spent on Sinclair and state if he will follow his own advice to other political parties and 'pay it back.'"

Pete Hodgson said Dr Brash also needed to stop lying about the Auditor General's approval of National's electioneering expenses.

"Brash has claimed today that the Auditor General approved National's campaign accounts and has even implied that the AG signed off on the use of taxpayers' money to pay for Sinclair's election advice.

"That's a lie and Brash knows it. The Auditor General only looked at campaign advertising, not other electioneering expenses. Don Brash may not have used his leader's budget to pay for pamphlets, but he did use it to bring Brian Sinclair to New Zealand for the sole purpose of winning the election.

"The Auditor General would absolutely define that as electioneering. It's ironic that the validating legislation National has attacked all week means that Brash's hiring of Sinclair is no longer deemed to be illegal."

ENDS

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