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Loan debacle deepens

Bill English MP

National Party Deputy Leader

19 February 2008

Loan debacle deepens

National Party Deputy Leader Bill English says Labour's admission that it has been using interest free loans and failing to declare the interest as a donation raises wider questions.

"If Mike Williams can get the old law so wrong, what else has he got wrong? How can the public have any faith Labour will get it right under its draconian Electoral Finance Act."

Mr English is referring to a statement by Labour Party President Mike Williams yesterday who said, 'an interest free loan is not a donation under any electoral act, it's an interest free loan and we have a lot of them, mainly from rich branches of the Labour Party. It never entered my head to treat it as a donation and it shouldn't be treated as a donation'.

Mr English says Mr Williams must know his interpretation of the law is wrong ( s.214F of the Electoral Act 1993 is attached).

"It was wrong under the old law and it is wrong under Labour's new Electoral Finance Act.

"In both cases the unpaid interest counts as a donation. Mike Williams' comments reveal Labour has developed back door funding tools to repay the pledge card debt."

"He needs to tell the public whether Owen Glenn's loan is just one of Labour's pledge card loans.

"For a Government that rammed through the Electoral Finance Act to create transparency, its sins are mounting up by the day.

"Mike Williams didn't tell the truth when he was asked about Mr Glenn's contributions since the 2005 election, and of course Labour was also caught wrongly using taxpayer funds to pay for its pledge card."

Mr English points out that there are now numerous accounts of the interest free loan issue.

"Mike Williams says he had no idea it was a donation, while Helen Clark said they knew it was a donation and it has been declared. They can't both be right.

"Labour has some more explaining to do."

Ends

s.214F Electoral Act 1993:

"party donation... (b) includes, where goods or services are provided to the party under a contract at 90% or less of their reasonable market value, the amount of the difference between the contractual price of the goods or services and the reasonable market value of those goods or services"

s.21 Electoral Finance Act 2007:

"party donation means a donation (whether of money or of the equivalent of money or of goods or services or of a combination of those things) that is made to a party, or to any person or body of persons on behalf of the party who are involved in the administration of the affairs of the party, and- (a) includes,-
(i) where goods or services are provided to a party, or to any person on the party's behalf, under a contract or arrangement at a value less than their reasonable market value, the latter being a value which exceeds $1,000, the amount of the difference between the former value and the reasonable market value of those goods or services; and ... (iii) where credit is provided to a party on terms and conditions substantially more favourable than the commercial terms and conditions prevailing at the time for the same or similar credit, the value to the party of those more favourable terms and conditions;"

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