Secret fisheries donations to NZ First Foundation revealed
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Secret fisheries donations to NZ First Foundation revealed

One of the country’s biggest fishing
companies made nearly 27,000 dollars in donations to the New Zealand First
Foundation which has been bankrolling New Zealand First the party. Records
viewed by RNZ show the foundation received a total of 26
thousand nine hundred and fifty dollars from seafood giant Talley’s and its
managing director Sir Peter Talley between 2017 and 2019. None of the donations were
disclosed because there were four separate amounts,
none of which exceeded the threshold at which donors identities must be made
public. RNZ’s In Depth reporters Guyon
Espiner and Kate Newton have been investigating & Guyon Espiner filed
this report. Shane Jones addressing industry leaders at Seafood New Zealand’s conference last year. The New
Zealand first cabinet minister has never made a secret of his support for the
industry telling the same conference he’d been described as the ghost
Minister for Fisheries. It’s actually quite a flattering description if you
don’t mind me saying. (Crowd Laughs) Those remarks were among concerns Greenpeace raised in a
letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last year, saying New Zealand First was
too close to the industry and should not be involved in fishing policy. Jacinda Ardern responded saying she expected ministers to abide by cabinet manual
guidelines on managing conflicts of interest. At the time Greenpeace noted that Mr Jones had received $10,000 from Talley’s for his 2017 election campaign. Now RNZ can reveal that Tally’s donated many thousands more to the New Zealand
First Foundation and none of the donations were disclosed. Greenpeace
Executive Director Russel Norman said in light of the donation revelations the
Prime Minister should review recent fishing policy decisions. [RUSSEL NORMAN]
The Prime Minister rightly said you know that you’ve got to manage conflict of
interest and I totally get that, it’s just a reality, it happens, but how can
she possibly be managing those conflicts of interest when she has
no visibility on the tens of thousands of dollars that are flowing into the New
Zealand First Foundation from Talley’s and related parties. So it makes it virtually
impossible for her to actually manage those conflicts of interest and protect
the integrity of the decision-making process. The New Zealand First Foundation
received the money from Talley’s in four amounts all of which individually fell
below the level for making donations public. In May 2017, that’s election year,
Talley’s deposited $7540 into the foundation bank account. Then on the 4th of April 2019 Talley’s made a $2500 donation followed the very next day by a donation
from the company’s Managing Director Sir Peter Talley. That one was for $15,000.
Just one cent below the level at which donations are made public. Talley’s followed that up with a fourth donation of $2000 in July of 2019. Russell Norman says Talley’s along with other fishing companies has lobbied the government on several issues including opposing attempts to put
monitoring cameras on fishing boats. [RUSSEL NORMAN]
When there was a change of government and the new government came in Talley’s made it very clear that they were opposed to
cameras on boats. New Zealand First also were very opposed to cameras on boats, even though Labour and the Greens support it, and we have not been able to
progress on cameras on boats under this government as a result of the New
Zealander First opposition to it. Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash eventually
announced in June 2019 that only 28 vessels, those most at risk of
encountering Maui dolphins, would be required to operate with onboard cameras. That same month that was revealed fishing companies including Talley’s had sent letters to Mr. Nash, Mr. Jones and Winston Peters warning the government
could face legal action over seabed protection rules in the South Pacific. And just last week Greenpeace accused the government of caving in to Talley’s
interests by lobbying for a Talley’s vessel the Amaltal Apollo to be taken
off an international blacklist for allegedly trawling in an area closed to fishing back in May 2018. Amaltal, the Nelson based deep water division of the Talley’s Group, said the decision to remove its vessel from the blacklist was supported by all 15 member countries of the South
Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation. The company has also
rejected any suggestion it was intentionally fishing in a closed area
saying the captain of the vessel acted with the full knowledge and complete
approval of the MPI observer. Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash said donations did
not influence policy and decisions were made on the basis of marine science,
official advice and the cabinet process. Mr. Nash, a Labour MP, said Mr. Jones had experience in the area from his time at Te Ohu Kaimoana and at the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He wouldn’t do an interview on tape but
told Morning Report last year that he consults with both New Zealand First and
the Greens over government fishing policy. Peter Talley refused to comment on the donations when contacted by RNZ. As well as the $10,000 donation to Shane Jones Talley’s gave NZ First MP Fletcher Tabuteau $2000 in 2017 which he
disclosed. During that 2017 election campaign Talley’s donated a total of
$40,000 to eight other candidates, seven from the National Party
and one from Labour. Giving each of them $5000. All of those
donations were disclosed. Shane Jones, the Minister for Economic and Regional Development, also declined to comment for this story. For Checkpoint, this is Guyon Espiner.

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