News release 24 July 2008
National receiving money from the racing industry -- Nicky Hager
Author Nicky Hager, speaking tonight at the Auckland premier of the film The Hollow Men, revealed that the National Party under John Key has been receiving financial backing from the racing industry.
My Hager referred to the controversy this week over New Zealand First receiving donations from the Vela family, which has racing industry connections. He said that while National criticised Winston Peters over the donations, the party did not mention that it has itself been receiving substantial money from that industry.
He told the audience that the film showed the racing industry's major (but secret) role supporting National before the 2005 election. "But the story goes on. As you watch the film you should know it's happening again, that National is again getting financial backing from the racing industry to help fund its election campaign. New Zealand's weak political donation laws mean that National can criticise New Zealand First in the comfortable belief that its own donations, and any policy undertakings to the racing industry, will remain secret."
"National party leader John Key is on the record saying that there is no need for greater transparency in New Zealand election donations," he said. "But Mr Key knows that he, like other party leaders, can easily shrug off questions about their financial backers by saying he doesn't get involved in fundraising. This isn't actually true, but certainly there's no doubt that National Party officials will be aware of the racing industry funding. The party's president and general manager need to front up and tell the public about the racing industry donors."
The rest of his speech was about the origins of the film. He said that it is not a historic film, but a guide to understanding contemporary politics, including this year's election campaign.
The Auckland film premier is the second of eighteen film festivals where The Hollow Men will screen. The premier in Wellington four days ago was sold out and promises good audiences for the film around the country.