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Who is the Waitemata Trust?

12 September 2006

Who is the Waitemata Trust?

The National Party has admitted that its use of secret trusts violates the intent of electoral law and must now reveal the big money backers behind the Waitemata Trust, Labour Strategist Pete Hodgson said today.

Over 92 per cent of National's 2005 election spend-up was financed through blind trusts. Around two-thirds of National's funding – or $1.2 million – was laundered through the National Party operated Waitemata Trust under the name of Robert Browne.

"New Zealanders have a right to know who our politicians are getting money from and what donors expect for their cash," Pete Hodgson said. "Our electoral laws have been designed to protect the transparency of campaign financing and ensure that money doesn't equal political influence in this country.

"These protections are under threat. While political parties have always relied on trusts to some extent, the National Party in 2005 took the extraordinary step on setting up a party operated trust to launder over $1.2 million in secret donations through.

"Gerry Brownlee admitted this morning that this violates the intent of the law, but unfortunately current legislation is powerless to stop it. We have always relied on the good will of parties to not abuse the system, but it appears that we can't afford to do that any longer.

"We're working on legislation right now that will make large secret donations – including those to the Labour Party – illegal starting with the 2008 election. National must now decide whether they support this move or whether they will continue to defend their campaign finance shell game.

"National needs to answer questions around the role of Robert Browne and the operation of the Waitemata Trust. How are donations to the trust solicited? What was the single largest donation made to the trust? What does National have to hide?"

Pete Hodgson also challenged Gerry Brownlee to point to the exact Parliamentary Services rule change made between 2002 and 2005 that he referred to on National Radio this morning.

"Show us the change Gerry. You've said that a change occurred which would have made the money spent by a number of parties outside the rules. Which change was it?

"The truth is that it doesn't exist and National knows it."

ENDS

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