Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Millionaires give Craig $675,000

Donation to Conservative Party part of drive to make referendums binding

Laurence Day
Laurence Day

Retired Hamilton multi-millionaires Laurence and Katrina Day say Governments should be forced to listen when the public speak via referendums and they've given $675,000 of their own money to Colin Craig's Conservative Party's election campaign in support of that belief.

Electoral Commission filings yesterday show the couple tipped another $500,000 into the Conservative Party campaign war chest, adding to the $175,000 they have previously donated to the party.

Mr Day, who received more than $10 million for his share of a private training organisation when it was sold recently, yesterday indicated he'll be giving more to Mr Craig's party and said: "Watch this space."

The former National Party stalwart is clear on why he and his wife switched his allegiances to the Conservative Party.

"First and foremost we're strong supporters of binding referenda."

Requiring Governments to be bound by the outcome of a referendum which achieves two thirds or better support of those voting, is one of Conservative's headline policies.

"Even though the Conservative Party is a minor party, it's the only party that's actually advocating for the majority," Mr Day said.

It was "a shame that National's being held to ransom by real minor groups" such as the Maori Party and United Future over reforms to the Resource Management Act.

"I think that's a terrible state of affairs."

Mr Day's contributions to the Conservative Party were also driven by Kim Dotcom's bid for political power by funding the Internet Party and its alliance with the Mana Party, an arrangement he said was "unbelievably abhorrent to New Zealanders".

"Somebody's got to stand up and say 'hey, this is just not right' and somebody's got to put their money where their mouth is and I'm willing to be one of those people."

While Mr Day had strong views on the issues that had been tested through referendums such as tougher sentences for violent crime and anti-smacking legislation, his donations were driven more by his belief they should be binding whatever the outcome.

"I suppose I'm a social conservative but if a majority of the people voted for something that I didn't agree with, I'd be happy to abide with it."

If the Green Party advocated for binding referendums "then I would contribute to them" even though he said he disagreed with many of their policies.

Meanwhile Mr Craig donated a further $50,000 of his money into his campaign war chest last week.

He has now donated a total of $890,000 to this year's campaign fund.

The other big political donation disclosed on the Electoral Commission site yesterday was $110,000 given to the Maori Party by Rorohara Farms, a company owned by Mainfreight chairman Bruce Plested.

Who are the Days?

Conservative Party donors Laurence and Katrina Day:
• Mr Day, 59, is the former 26% owner of private training organisation Quantum Education. His wife Katrina is a former teacher.
• The couple live on the outskirts of Hamilton.
• He was involved with the National Party for 30 years and served as their Hamilton East electorate chairman for four.
• Mr Day and his partners sold out of Quantum Education this year, netting him more than $10m.
• He and his wife have given $675,000 of that to the Conservative Party

- NZ Herald

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