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.