How do we stop foreigners financing NZ political parties?

National Party MP Nick Smith has signaled that reforms are needed to rules on foreign political donations. Photo / A newspaper file

Was Nick Smith just a tiny bit duplicitous this week when he urged a ban on foreign donations? It would seem so, given the National Party?s history.  Quote.

The existing electoral law does put limits on foreign donors, but needs strengthening. Only kiwi citizens and residents should be able to donate to political parties or to campaigns that seek to influence an election outcome,” Smith said.? End of quote.

Smith is asking the impossible by conveniently forgetting that many New Zealand residents and citizens were once foreigners who have maintained strong ties with their country of birth. Foreign donations direct to individuals and political parties over $1,500 are forbidden but this restriction is easily overcome by channelling donations through a New Zealand citizen, resident or organization.

We saw this in 2017, when the National Party received $150,000 from a company called Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Industry Ltd. It was a New Zealand registered company whose single shareholder resides in a Mongolian village in China. The company was founded by fast food mogul Lang Lin who sent 1200 New Zealand racehorses to China to race and breed, including New Zealand horse of the year and derby winner Mongolian Khan. Quote.

[…] in a speech last night to Nelson Rotary, Smith doubled down and went public with his call for electoral finance reform, saying he wished to promote “a ban on foreign donations. End of quote.

Is Smith simply wanting to nail the lid shut on this can of worms? Let’s not forget that in 2017 Todd McClay travelled to China. Would an OIA request on his ministerial travel schedule reveal a leg of McClay?s trip to Inner Mongolia, and whether or not that leg was a personal visit? Perhaps for the purposes of fundraising?

Then there is the alleged $100k Chinese donation to the National Party that Jami-Lee Ross accused Simon Bridges of corruption over because it was not correctly disclosed.

Smith says law reform is needed to stop inappropriate influence by other countries. Quote.

“There is the issue of funding, and whether foreign governments are either directly, or indirectly through shelf companies, are using funds to inappropriately influence outcomes,” he said.? End of quote.

If history shows that the National party has indirectly been a recipient of overseas funding, why are they going there now? Is Nick Smith simply putting a lid on the National Party’s history, or is this a genuine attempt at real reform? If it is, can someone please explain just how we can stop foreigners with deep pockets from influencing our politicians?