Monday, December 17, 2007

Starship not buying

Helen Clark took taxpayers' money intended to run her office, and used it to run for office.  Your money is her money, and don't you forget it.  She's not the only politician with a morality bypass and their hands in the till.  In his failed bid to use taxpayers' money twice -- and good on Starship Foundation's Brian Mogridge for not buying into the stunt -- Winston Peters demonstrates has has no clue about the distinction between New Zealanders' money and New Zealand First’s money.  Or just no clue.  Raybon Kan makes the argument.

So New Zealand First has made a donation of $158,000 to Starship hospital. By coincidence, $158,000 is the precise amount of taxpayers’ money the auditor-general said New Zealand First spent illegally in the last election. Does this mean New Zealand First is off the hook?

It’s an interesting tactic if it works. If you’re done for fraud, can you just write a cheque to a charity and have it all go away? If you get a tax bill can you pay the exact amount to Starship? If you get a jail sentence can you sentence yourself to Starship? Why not take the money to one ward in Starship and get the kids to fight for it?

Every political party should try the same stunt. Take money from Parliamentary Services and write large cheques to whomever they want. Don’t call it misappropriation of public funds. Don’t call it embezzlement. Call it generosity.

But it’s easy to be generous with other people’s money. This is why politicians love stadiums that will be used once. It’s not their money.

Every MP should follow Winston’s lead. Then we’d see MMP in real action. Instead of having a government policy, or some legitimate reason to spend the money, each party should simply write cheques according to their own whim, and charge them to Parliamentary Services. Let the charities campaign for the misappropriated funds. Roll up! Roll up! Get your Parliamentary Services slush money here! It’s disturbing that a former treasurer thinks this is OK. Wouldn’t he be the first one up with a winebox full of documents if somebody else did this?

Well, only if he thought there were votes in it.  A colleague sent Winston the following letter last week,

Dear Mr Peters
Congratulations on your donation of $158,000 to Starship Hospital.  It is a very generous thing to do.

Don't forget you also owe the taxpayers of New Zealand a similar amount of money - money New Zealand First Party spent illegally during the 2005  Election campaign.
I hope this debt will be repaid as soon as possible.

It's still to do.  And a reader reminds me that returning the cheque must have caused Starship some considerable financial pain -- they could certainly use that money for paediatric research -- and suggested those praising the gesture might want to put some money where there admiration is.  Don't just clap,  throw money.  You can do it here.

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