Thursday, October 06, 2005

Sore loser

So Winston Peters is taking Bob Clarkson to court for handing him a right thrashing in Tauranga. Remember his old line, "I'm happy being the MP for Tauranga," which he used to say whenever he was asked if he wanted Jim Bolger's job?

Peters claims Clarkson over-spent his $20,000 campaign limit by at least $30,000, mainly because the Bay of Plenty Times covered Clarkson's construction company as part of a series of advertising features on the region's building sector firm.
Setting aside the small point that all NZ First's campaign spending went towards promoting the Peters brand, this brings back echoes of an incident after the 1996 election, when won all five Maori seats.

The Sunday Star Times and Holmes reported that NZ First Te Tai Tonga MP, Tutekawa Wyllie, had over-spent to secure his spot, including chapter and verse of where the overspending occurred.

Rather than standing up for clean elections, Peters lashed out at the reporter - me - and took the blanace of power Wyllie's seat gave him to put National back into power.

Wyllie's campaign spending return came in under the limit, but there were obvious gaps. Printing for mail-outs but no envelopes and insufficient postage. A check of his suppliers turned up expenses he hadn't reported, taking him over the limit. So filing a false return, as well as the over-spending.

Considering the former Maori All Black was playing in an MPs vs police rugby game within weeks of getting elected, it came as little surprise the electoral office and the police didn't want to touch the case. The police investigated for an hour in the last week before the six month limit for bringing charges, after which it was automatically deemed no crime.

Peters of course won Hunua for National in 1979 by challenging Labour's win in court. Peters used legalistic attacks to strike out hundreds of votes which went to Malcolm Douglas, Roger's brother. As a result of that the law was changed to allow votes to be accepted as long as the voter's intention was clear. Peters was getting votes thrown out if they had a cross rather than a tick, if I remember rightly.

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