Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

NZ First misused Parliamentary funding - Horan

Former NZ First MP Brendan Horan. Photo / File
Former NZ First MP Brendan Horan. Photo / File

NZ First misused Parliamentary funding, using it for party political purposes including tens of thousands of dollars for voter management software and the salaries of employees to operate it, the party's rogue former MP Brendan Horan says.

Recent months have seen increasingly bitter sniping between NZ First Leader Winston Peters and his estranged former MP Mr Horan who was ejected from the party in late 2012 following claims he plundered his dying mother's savings.

The bad blood yesterday saw Mr Peters in Parliament likening Mr Horan to late British broadcaster and alleged child sex offender Jimmy Savile.

Mr Horan promised to hit back and did so this afternoon during the Budget debate making the allegations against his former political master who was absent from the House.

Mr Horan told Parliament he was writing to Speaker David Carter to ask him to investigate NZ First's use of "taxpayer funded software for party political purposes such as campaigning and fundraising".

Mr Horan said NZ First paid "tens of thousands of dollars out of the Leader's Budget to develop this software and has their Parliamentary staff working to run the programme for election year".

"This is a clear breach of Parliamentary Service guidelines."

Rules for Parliamentary funding are intended to ensure the money is not used for party political purposes and the Parliamentary Service Rules of Conduct state that Parliamentary staff, must, in the course of their work "avoid electioneering, political party business (i.e. acting for the non-parliamentary branch of the party, such as political party administration, fundraising or campaign related activities), and other actions that are party political in nature".

Mr Horan provided documents to the media this afternoon including an email which stated that "a number of full time Parliamentary Staff are engaged to run this programme, including director of operations Api Dawson and Winston Peters' Out of Parliament Support Esme Connell, who also happens to be the Party's Membership secretary".

"Peters and his staff are well aware that they are blurring the lines between party political and Parliamentary business," the email stated.

"For this reason, members of the Board have been largely kept in the dark."

Mr Horan did not say who the email's sender and recipients were.

He faced a battle in the House to make his claims as his former NZ First colleagues, Richard Prosser, Barbara Stewart and Andrew Williams raised a series of points of order to try and block him.

Outside the House Mr Horan refused to repeat the claims without the protection of Parliamentary privilege.

Speaking from Auckland, Mr Peters said Mr Horan's claim was "a lie" and denied the software was used for party political purposes.

"It's used to enable our expansion into sector groups, all sorts of commercial and social interest groups where we're able to spell out what our policies are and interact with them."

"It is run by someone who knows precisely what the law is as to the appropriateness of use and what you can and cannot do."

Mr Peters said Mr Horan was making allegations "that are just baseless like the one he made about a $2 million slush fund, that's a total lie as well, and the one about the horse is a lie as well."

- NZ Herald

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