Prime Minister Helen Clark today told Parliament she had confidence in Foreign Minister Winston Peters.
Under questioning from National leader John Key following a series of allegations about donations to the New Zealand First party, Helen Clark described Mr Peters as a "hard working and conscientious minister".
NZ First is facing possible inquiries into a $100,000 donation by expatriate billionaire Owen Glenn, revealed by the Herald, and new allegations were made by the Dominion Post today.
Mr Key asked if it was acceptable for Mr Peters, leader of the NZ First party, to receive a "$100,000 gift" and not declare it to the registrar of pecuniary interests and the Prime Minister.
Helen Clark said Mr Peters had said he was not aware of the donation until he was told by his lawyer last Friday. At that point he informed her.
Mr Key also asked the Prime Minister if she had seen the allegations in the Dominion Post that Mr Peters or NZ First had received $150,000 from the Vela family, some of which had not made it to the party's bank account.
Helen Clark earlier referred to a statement released by Mr Peters' office this morning, in which the NZ First leader attacked the story as a "smear campaign of unsubstantiated allegations" and said all donations received were lawful.
In the statement, Mr Peters said: "What is the issue? The accounts of NZ First are audited and all money received accounted for."
Mr Peters is Minister of Foreign Affairs, Racing and Associate Minister for Senior Citizens.
Speaker Margaret Wilson is considering a complaint from ACT leader Rodney Hide that Mr Peters should have declared the Glenn donation.
Mr Peters has repeatedly said the Herald was wrong about the donation and accused it of lying - as recently as yesterday morning - despite his admission on Friday.
Mr Peters, having repeatedly denied ever receiving a personal or political donation from the Monaco-based expatriate billionaire, said that night that Mr Glenn had paid $100,000 towards the legal bill for his Tauranga electoral challenge in 2005.
Mr Peters said his lawyer, Brian Henry, revealed to him the identity of the donor that evening.
He said he didn't have to declare it as it did not benefit him or his party.
The Auditor-General Kevin Brady is waiting to see what the Speaker decides but has the power to investigate. The pecuniary interests registrar head Dame Margaret Bazley could also investigate.
- NZHERALD STAFF