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Key needs to put a figure on his 53 Cabinet Club meetings

8 May 2014

Key needs to put a figure on his 53 Cabinet Club meetings

The Green Party is challenging John Key to say how much money the National Party made from selling access to the Prime Minister at the 53 “Cabinet Club” events he’s attended since 2008.

“New Zealanders deserve to know how much the National Party gained from selling access to the Prime Minister at the exclusive Cabinet Club meetings he attended, said Green Party co-leader Dr Russel Norman.

“This could be upwards of a million dollars for access to the heart of Government.”

John Key has defended the Cabinet Club scheme, in which wealthy donors reportedly pay between $2,000 and $10,000 a year for meetings with senior Government ministers, including the Prime Minister.

“John Key claims the Cabinet Club is part of the normal political donations process. Cash for access to the inner circle of the Government is not normal,” said Dr Norman.

“This is party fundraising with access to ministers at its heart. It is democracy for sale, and it its worlds away from legitimate forms of party fundraising.

“The Green Party does not believe that the Cabinet Manual sanctions this behaviour or that Ministers are attending Cabinet Club outside their ministerial roles.

“Ministers attending Cabinet Club events are advertised, by their colleagues, as attending in their ministerial capacity. Those who pay Cabinet Club memberships clearly expect access to Ministers with real power, not backbenchers or members of the opposition.

“The Cabinet Manual is clear - ministers are not entitled to receive money for going about their ministerial work and those close to them are not allowed to benefit from information that the minister has only because they’re Minister.

“The Prime Minister’s admission that he has attended 53 separate Cabinet Club events, potentially raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars for the National Party in the process, has eroded the credibility of Parliament and the Government.

“We think ordinary New Zealanders, who are not invited to these events, would be shocked to hear the Prime Minister say there’s nothing wrong with this.

“The Government of the day should work for the people, not for the highest bidder.”

The Green Party calls on the Government to restore political credibility by introducing a Ministerial Disclosure regime.

“The public has the right to know not only who donates to political parties, but how often Ministers meet with those donors afterwards and what they discuss,” said Dr Norman.

Dr Norman said there are outstanding questions for John Key over the Cabinet Club racket:

“If there is nothing untoward about Cabinet Club fundraisers for the National Party, why did two of his Ministers pretend not to know what the Club was when questioned by a reporter?

“And if his Ministers don’t attend Cabinet Club fundraisers in their Ministerial capacity, why does he think these fundraising groups are called Cabinet Clubs?” Dr Norman said.

ENDS

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