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'I'd be very, very amazed' if more Liu donations to Labour don't emerge — Key

UPDATE / June 19: Prime Minister John Key, who is in New York for UN meetings, told media that donations to Labour by Donghua Liu could exceed the $15,000 the party has declared.

"I've heard the rumours, and in the end we'll see what comes out. But I'd be very, very amazed if the amount is $15,000."

The PM declined to comment on rumours the actual donation ran to hundreds of thousands.

Labour is already in hot water over a letter of support David Cunliffe wrote for the Mr Lui's NZ residency application 11 years ago. The letter emerged yesterday, just days after Mr Cunliffe denied any past association with the high-profile, controversial immigrant.

"I simply do not recall writing that letter," Mr Cunliffe said at a 1.45pm stand-up press conference at Parliament.

The Labour leader also faced needling in the House. Finance Minister Bill English asked during general debate: "How do we know one of the donors [to David Cunliffe's secret trust for donations to his leadership campaign] is not Mr Donghua Liu?"


Liu-Labour ties deepen: files contradict Cunliffe’s earlier denials

June 18: Labour leader David Cunliffe is coming under further pressure after documents show he lobbied for Chinese migrant and political donor Donghua Liu.

The New Zealand Herald is reporting it has a letter which shows Mr Cunliffe advocated for Mr Liu to be granted residency in New Zealand — contradicting earlier denials of having had anything to do with the wealthy Chinese migrant and serial political donor. (See letter attached below.)

National minister Maurice Williamson was forced to resign eight weeks ago after it emerged he had called the police about Mr Liu’s charges for assault against a woman. Mr Liu had been a large National Party donor at the last election.

It transpired that before the change of government in 2008 Mr Liu was also a large donor to the Labour Party, although some of these donations do not appear to have been recorded by Labour.
Mr Cunliffe earlier this week denied helping Mr Liu or advocating for him to be granted residency, saying he had never met him.

The latest gaffe from Mr Cunliffe follows weeks of bad polling. He is performing lower as preferred prime minister than predecessor David Shearer ever did, and Labour has failed to make any major inroads into National’s lead.

More accusations are likely this afternoon in Parliament: as well as question time which starts at 2pm there is the bi-monthly general debate, in which members of Parliament can raise any issue they like.
If any National MP has further revelations to make against Mr Cunliffe, they are likely to be made this afternoon under parliamentary privilege.

RAW DATA: The Letter (PDF)154.66 KB

More by Rob Hosking and NBR Staff

Comments and questions

Oh no, Tricky Dave strikes again! Where is McCready when you need him?, Mr Cunliffe seems to have more movements than a Swiss watch. Is it time for David Cunliffe to pull tent mount his camel and ride off into the gloom.

The ability to lie strait straight in bed comes to mind

To be fair, it seems politicians of all persuasions have been seducing the dodgy Chinese charlatan for personal or party gain.

Nothing wrong with Cunliffe. Please leave him there until after the election.

Will be absolutely no questions from the government bench, or very damp bus ticket ones if there are. Why force him out if you want to win in September????

No questions from National as they have far more illicit connections with foreign donors. Keep politicking but you are playing to the gallery here.

Oh no Dave..

Can the preferred Prime Minister polls go into negatives?

Something stinks in the land of Labour.

And national, and...... Are there any pollies who haven't siddled up to this Chinese guy?

Is he still the leader of the labour party?

At least this makes him visible again!

Cunliffe is the best thing that has ever happened to National , he alone will give a 4-5% swing to National.

or maybe to the Greens

Labour are laborious when it comes to being open and honest with their actions. Just goes to show what we could expect with a Labour-Left Alliance. Can you believe it, in the matter of a few decades Labour will have gone from a legitimate political party representing a sizable portion of NZ to a niche party representing less than 20% of the population.

The old timers must be rolling in their graves, next we will hear that KDC has a higher preferred PM rating than DC.

You're right - if he was outside Parliament he would turn a big business into a small business. Remember he had to retract lies from his CV when he was found out?

Shane Murphy for leader? Even he must be a bit disillusioned with this latest shambles

He is showing all the hallmarks of a good future PM. After all the one we have now is prone to memory blanks as well.

If he can't remember writing the letter - how many has he written in the past.

What else has Mr Cunliffe forgotten? Andrew Little was heard to say, leave him there I will take us into Government in 2017, its too late to change now, those who want to work with me after this election step back now don’t talk to the press and we will be the ‘new’ leaders. Russell is crying he knows its THREE MORE YEARS!

It's not that Cunliffe is being economical with the truth, he's just stingy as hell.

Does David Cunliffe stand by all his statements?

Does David Cunliffe hold David Cunliffe to the same standards he insists of other MP's?

Does David Cunliffe still stand by his 2013 version of his tricky CV?

Did I just hear Shane Jones say, "BUGGER"?

I bet the Internet Mana Party could not have scripted this debacle better themselves....
Looks like a big stack of Leftie votes heading their way???

Nope. They will just stay in bed.

Cunliffe states that "I did not advocate for him. A letter has just come to my attention which is eleven years old. I simply asked how long a processing process would take."

Reading the letter, how do you explain the need for inclusion of paragraphs 3 and 4 if its simply inquiring about due process. Paragraphs 3 and 4 are advocacy.

NZ Herald: Mr Cunliffe said he still had no recollection of meeting Mr Liu.
"I simply do not recall ever having met him." “To the best of my knowledge that letter came through my office and an immigration agent on his behalf."
Yes in the letter he wrote he said: “I have been approached by my constituent Donghau Lui….” This purports that he met him. Is Mr Cunliffe is being economical with the truth? This is the man who wishes to lead our country. He has said National is corrupt. Mr Cunliffe should tidy his own house before telling others what to do with theirs. Mr Cunliffe has no option than to resign he has suggested to others to do this for lesser offenses. Stand up Sir be the man you purport to be!

"I have been approached.." Exactly. Hoist by his own petard. Otherwise, should have read something like "My office/ secretary etc etc has been...

They are all as bad as each other...Labour has the unions, the Nats have the Business Round Table - not a lot of difference really

Labout it seems are all for the working class except when they need donations from wealthy businessmen or when their leader lives in Herne Bay - how is any of this reflective of the core values of the Labour movement??? In short, it isn't , and until they do something about re aligning with their voters there is no hope at all for them , and to be fair why should there - voters need to feel an affinity for their party, and I am sure your blue collar worker with 3 kids and a mortgage in a working class suburb at this point probably feels more compelled to vote for a bloke who grew up in a state house with no father ...

At least we can all be confident that John Key remembers every letter he wrote and person he met in Helensville in 2003.

He sure can ,that's why he is the best PM NZ has ever had.

That's a good joke. Our PM can't even remember if he had lunch with the old friend he appointed as Spymaster.

I think the main difference between David Cunliffe and John Key in this instance is that Key's staff is far more effective at digging up the relevant information. Also that the media haven't called for his head every time he's been caught out lying. Everyone lies, but the reactions are different.

Oh please leave him alone. I certainly won't be voting for him, he's of the cloth cap mentality but for goodness sake this is so trivial it beggars belief. The media have a field day over credit card expenditure of MP's and who said what to whom 11 years ago; let it go. its irrelevant.

It actually happens, people aren't perfect, this isn't the West Wing with loads of "communications directors" scripting every line. People who deal with a lot of complex networks every day can't rely on their memory for every detail of their life and the media shouldn't think finding these inconsistencies is some form of master conspiracy.

Don't recall seeing you commenting re Williamson. Funny that.

It's the shameless hypocrisy and Cunliffe's wrong assumption of our lacking in reasoning as he offers his feeble excuses for breaking laws, trust and Brand Cunliffe integrity with NZ with more shots to his feet.

Cunningly tricky CV, secret trusts, outright deceit and attempted cover ups...

"I did not lie" He traded his Avondale Market accent for his Nixon accent.

(Disclosure: I voted for National the last two elections)

Why would he lie if he recalled it at all?

Recent events suggest people who lie about things get found out (e.g. Judith Collins). It seems most likely he genuinely did not recall the letter amongst many he had signed (perhaps even written himself), and that his staff / records were not successful in finding reference to Liu prior to his claims.

I'm sure Cunliffe would have checked his records, and come up empty. Armstrong points out in the Herald, he's called for resignations for the same sorts of things, so he should resign.

So should Collins though, as she's been pretty dishonest.

Looks like Ben Uffindell is correct: the Civilian Party is not the only joke party in this election after all.

I'm thinking there is a far simpler reason for this. there is some virus around parliament that has affectted Cunliffe, Collins and Key where the memory is basically removed. what we need is medical assistance for the whole group. Why don't we stop paying them and see if they notice, given the memory problems they probably won't twig onto it.

Thanks Christ I'm not a politician. I can't remember what I did last week.
As much as I don't support labour, do we really need to raise the bar for immediate dismissal to not remembering a document you signed 10 years ago?
Can everyone stop wasting their time digging for dirt and get on with doing some actual work? It's making me nervous. I've been to way too many strip clubs.

It's not a random letter for a constituent, it was a letter for a highly controversial, high-profile residency candidate.

At risk of reducing politics to something basic [no need to comment], on one axis Key's gone up over time (from "Seemingly Perpetually Smug" to "Mr Regular Nice Guy") and down on another (From "Mr Rich Guy, doesn't need the job, doing what's best for the country" to "Political operator, doing whatever to get re-elected").

Who's advising Cunliffe? Copying and combining the early Key "Smug" and his later "Political Operator" is just plain silly.

And adding in barmy policy elevates it to stupid. From banning trucks in the fast lane to 'speeding' up Christchurch disputes using the slowest dispute resolution process known to man (courts & lawyers), may well deliver a solid victory to National.

But never mind who's the next Labour leader. As with Clark/Cullen when smugness and politicking both totally maxed out, if Key's smug factor rejoins his new found "politics dominates all" drive, he'll be voted out next time or the time after anyway... Another cycle begins...

Donghua Liu can hold his head high and be proud that he is the only player in this sordid Saga of Two Parties, who has acted honourably and with dignity.

Ha ha ha ....he's played them all for suckers. The Chinese way - the ends justify the means. Single handedly he has cast dispersions on all parties.

Cunliffe is the best asset in the National Party armoury.

For years now Labour has focused too much on targeting individuals in the Government, rather that focus on what they can do for the country. They have seen that the easiest way to the government benches and all the rewards that it entails for themselves is via a process of discrediting individuals.

Recently you have Robertson misleading parliament and the public with his two identical bottles of milk that weren't saga; there was a sustained effort against Key and a bunch of other strategies of that ilk.

What they forgot though is that there are so many things that can come back to bite them - things that would never be dragged up if that had not started such a process.

Now it seems Cunliffe is being bitten by their party strategy.

Time to stop these games and focus on things that will help the country.

where was his new chief of staff? Isn't he supposed to put a stop to all this sort of thing?

I'm looking forward to the day when every MP will compulsorily have to wear Google Glasses that are set to record at all times with a daily download to the various media outlets for dissemination, comment and checks for nepotism and cronyism

That way "brain fades" "donations" "favours" etc. will be there for all to see and the ridiculous partisan point scoring will be put to one side as everyone will look pretty mucky!

Perhaps the GCSB can assist here rather than only surveilling members of the general public...

I'd be very, very amazed if more Liu donations to National don't emerge. Beware the pot calling the kettle black......

Oh, the hypocisy all round. What about the slippery John Key's brain fade?