Monday, April 24, 2023

Point of Order: While the PM gloried in citizenship announcement.....

....our media were helping us weigh the even-handedness of Meng Foon

You might have the impression the PM went to Australia simply to claim the credit for persuading the Albanese Government to make it easier for Kiwis to become Aussie citizens.

He had succeeded where other New Zealand prime ministers had failed.

This impression was fortified when he said:

“I was pleased to welcome the announcement over the weekend of a new direct pathway to Australian citizenship for New Zealand citizens.

“Successive New Zealand Prime Ministers have advocated for this change for two decades. It’s pleasing that the close relationship between leaders of two like-minded governments was instrumental in reaching this outcome.”

But other matters were on the agenda, such as regional security and trans-Tasman economic interests, and Hipkins hosted a business reception to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Closer Economic Relations.

Responses to natural disasters was also discussed.

We learn this from the only press statement posted on the government’s official website since Point of Order’s previous monitoring of what our ministers are doing, where they are going and where they have been.

Latest from the Beehive

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has concluded his visit to Brisbane today, after participating in an Australian citizenship ceremony marking a new direct pathway to citizenship for New Zealanders living in Australia.

Readers with an interest in learning who has provided election-campaign funding for whom – the Race Relations Commissioner chipping in to help the Minister of Justice’s election campaign, for example – will find nothing about this on the Beehive website because it has not been the subject of an official statement.

It has been the subject of some politicking,

On Friday, 1News reported that Meng Foon, after being appointed to the ‘politically neutral’ role of Race Relations Commissioner, donated $1,500 to Labour MP Kiri Allan’s 2020 election campaign and his company provided her with a rent subsidy worth $9,185.

Act leader David Seymour commented critically in a statement headed:

“ACT has said right from the start that Meng Foon isn’t fit for his role because he is unable to remain politically neutral, today’s revelations bring new weight to our claims and he needs to go immediately,” says ACT Leader David Seymour. “After … More >>

Seymour said Foon can’t be independent if he’s a Labour donor and Kiri Allan is now the Minister of Justice, responsible for appointing the Commissioner.

She didn’t appoint Foon, Seymour acknowledged, but she would be responsible for his re-appointment.

“Judging by her reaction to a reporter’s questions she hoped Foon’s contributions to her campaigns would remain secret. When a reporter asked her about the donation she said, “I didn’t take any monetary donations from Meng Foon.”

Left-wing blogger Micky Savage, on the other hand, headed his dismissive commentary:

Much ado about nothing

He wrote:

Right wing twitter thought it was onto something big yesterday after there were revelations that Human Rights Commissioner Meng Foon had donated funds and cheap premises to Kiri Allan’s election campaign in 2020. Their belief that Foon was politically biased now had solid evidence in support.

But there was one rather significant problem with this expose, he had also donated to the National candidate in the same election.

Micky Savage referenced an article by Bridie Witton at Stuff:

Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon says giving cash to political parties – be they on the left or right – is a family tradition, amid revelations he donated thousands of dollars to Labour Minister Kiri Allan and gave her a rent subsidy for a campaign office before the 2020 election.

Foon and his wife Ying Foon gave $1500 to Allan in 2020, and their company Triple Eight Investments Limited also gave Allan a rent subsidy worth $9185, according to the declaration.

Foon also said he donated “about $1500” to the National Party east coast electorate campaign where Tania Tapsell, who is also the mayor of Rotorua, ran against Allan. A National Party spokesperson said Foon actually donated $1000.

Foon said it was “nothing out of the ordinary” for his family to donate to political campaigns, and it had become a “tradition” to donate to various parties over the years.

Micky Savage then noted that the donation of rent in kind probably equated to letting a vacant store be used for cheaper than normal rent for a short period.

The premises may have been empty anyway, “but this is how the disclosure regime works”.

But let’s weigh Meng Fooon’s political impartiality:
  • Foon and his wife gave $1500 to the Labour Party’s Kiri Allan and their company gave Allan a rent subsidy worth $9185, according to the declaration.
  • Meng Foon said he donated “about $1500” to the National Party’s east coast electorate campaign, but a National Party spokesperson said Foon actually donated $1000.
Is anyone willing to tell us which party got the greater support? And which got none?

If this the measure of Foon’s even-handedness politically, then what might we conclude about his even-handedness when he considers complaints of racism against people on the left and people on the right?

Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton


Robert Arthur said...

What would be the situation if he had called it koha?

TJS said...

Koha., lol

Anonymous said...

PM gloried in announcement of citizenship because those that find his lot distasteful will leave and make it easier for the Reversionists.