Fresh back from the Australasian line-dancing champs in Adelaide, where partnered with Marama Davidson and against the bookies’ odds, he managed a commendable third place and took out the bronze medal, Pattrick Smellie wrote an excellent assessment of the dilemma facing Jacinda over the NZ First donations scandal.
It was excellent because unlike most other comments to date, it was measured in discussing the options facing the P.M, rather than simply slamming her for not sacking Winston from his job. The astonishing thing about this saga given the 2008 disaster, is that it should happen again. On face value there’s no way the SFO can give this a clean bill of health and not bring a prosecution.
But Wily Winston may still personally escape. Rob Muldoon made it a rule never to be told by his Party of any donors, to avoid charges of corruption. Winston who’s not being personally charged will probably argue that following 2008, the NZ First Foundation was established on an arms‑length basis and emulating Rob, he made it a point not to be informed of donor sources. Unless hard evidence can be produced otherwise, and although no-one will believe him, he may personally escape what could be a punitive outcome.
But, under pressure, some donors may insist they dealt with Winston, at which point it will be their word against his. Also, it may be that given the consequences some NZ First Foundation nominal directors may buckle and insist they were simply puppets. Bear in mind this offence comes with a potential prison sentence.
Smellie made the excellent point that being election year the issue could ultimately be lost in the dust of battle.
One thing’s for sure and that is this foolishness has thrown up yet another factor, if not up to the U.S. Presidential election standard, to make ours an unknown outcome. 6 months ago it promised to be a sleep-walk.
To conclude re Pattrick Smellie. Seemingly he alone among the political media maintains a professional detached approach when writing about Peters and his Party.
The roots of the media animosity toward Winston go back to the mid-1990s when he declared he would never talk to the print media, and would only talk to radio and television live, this to avoid distortion. He’s stuck to that policy ever since.
Anyone in public life would agree with that based on their own experience, but most haven’t the guts to say so. That’s not to say the distortions are necessarily based on malice, rather most emanate from poor editing.
So why is Pattrick Smellie an exception? I put it down to the calming effect of his line‑dancing passion. Discussing this a year back with Barry Soper I urged him to give it a go. That proved terrible advice which I should have anticipated for, after only two sessions, Barry was issued a life‑time ban for bad language and brawling.
Subsequent to the beat-up on the PM for not sacking Winston pending the outcome of the SFO enquiry, Fran O’Sullivan also wrote a sensible NZ Herald piece. She pointed out that Winston was not the subject of the enquiry and that the PM was totally correct in withholding any action pending the SFO outcome. I suspect Fran must also be into line-dancing given its obvious intelligence-boosting