As the Serious Fraud Office investigates donations made to the New Zealand First Foundation, political commentator Bernard Hickey says Winston Peters should step down as Racing Minister, and the Prime Minister should see that he does.
The Electoral Commission received a complaint about the New Zealand First Foundation in November following reports alleging the Electoral Act may have been breached. It was then referred to the police to investigate - who then referred the matter to the Serious Fraud Office.
Following reports that some of those donors are part of the racing industry, Bernard Hickey - Newsroom Pro managing editor - is calling for Winston Peters to step down as Racing Minister.
Speaking on TVNZ 1's Breakfast today Hickey said: "I think he should stand down as the Racing minister."
"Of course, I’m not alleging there’s been any quid pro quo here but there’s clearly appearances of conflict of interest and when there’s been no transparency."
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has publicly said she won't form a view on the situation or take any action until there is an outcome from the SFO investigation. But Hickey thinks there should be action now.
"He [Winston Peters] stepped back in 2008 when Helen Clark was much tougher and said 'really mate you need to go' and Jacinda Ardern is not showing the same steel or confidence in her own popularity to say to the deputy prime minister - even if it's only on racing - hey this isn’t a good look let's let the officials work it out and then you can come back," he said.
Hickey reiterates that because Mr Peters' is "doing a lot of stuff" as Racing Minister, he should be stepping back for the time being.
"When he was Racing Minister last time there wasn’t a huge amount of reform, but he has pushed through a complete change to the racing industry," he said.
Among the changes made with Mr Peters at the helm include the potential sale of the TAB and a whole bunch of racing clubs shut down, Hickey says.
"It’s not like he's sitting there doing nothing as the Racing Minister he is completely changing the industry."