Woodhouse confirms meeting with Liu

Michael Woodhouse
Michael Woodhouse
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse has confirmed that he met with Chinese businessman Donghua Liu, and heard his requests for a change in immigration policy.

Mr Woodhouse said Mr Liu - who was involved in National MP Maurice Williamson's resignation - lobbied him in April or May at the businessman's Newmarket hotel.

The minister said Mr Liu lobbied him to change the rules of the business migrant scheme.

"We traversed a range of ... issues about how the investor category could be improved, and I took on board those issues.''

Mr Liu was seeking a new immigration category in which non-English speakers could pay less than the $10 million threshold.

The minister told reporters that while the investment categories were under review, he had no plans to lower the threshold of the Investor Plus scheme.

"We've undergone a review of the investor categories and we've found that by and large they're working very well.

"There are some possibilities for improving the way in which the categories work ... but no decisions have been made.''

Mr Woodhouse said any changes to the scheme would focus on "the way in which people invest funds, where they invest funds, and how long they need to spend in the country''.

This could include extending the scheme to migrants who invested in the Canterbury rebuild.

Mr Liu gained residency through the Investor Plus scheme, which was required for non-English speaking migrants to qualify as business migrants.

The Herald has previously reported that his plans for $70 million development in Newmarket would go ahead following "improvements to New Zealand's business migrant rules''.

Mr Liu hired professional consultants to lobby ministers to lower the threshold. When he was unsuccessful in getting Government to relax the rules, the development stalled.

Mr Williamson lobbied for Mr Liu to gain citizenship, and it was granted in 2010.

The National MP resigned on Thursday after it was revealed that he contacted police about Mr Liu's domestic violence charges in January.

Mr Woodhouse also said he discussed immigration issues at a National Party fundraiser which Chinese migrants attended.

He said he spoke about immigration policy at the November event "as I do at just about everywhere else in the country''.

The minister said it did not cost money to access a Government minister, and someone could get hold of him "by picking up the phone''.

Media beat-up

Albert Square: We definitely expect our media to hold the government and the opposition to account, but the media needs to be held to account also. The should cover the opposition's attacks on the government, but in a balanced and thoughtful way, and not like a shark feeding frenzy in collaboration with the opposition parties.
It is a media beat-up because the case against Woodhouse is so weak. There is no evidence that money was paid or accepted with the expectation of a political favour being done for the Chinese gentleman. Surely we should expect some sort of logical thinking to be applied before starting a witch-hunt. Surely a girl can have crooked teeth and keep pet bats without being executed for being a witch.

Hyper bypass

@Jimmy, not the hyperactive media beat up card. You are an International man and know full well the 4th Estate just reports stuff. Certainly, our lot is getting a bit 'dog', but, I'm sorry, they hold the government, and the loyal opposition, to account.

Pots and kettles

There's nothing wrong with political parties using MP's as guests at fundraising events. Labour sold access to MP's as part of a $1,500 package. See this link. About time for all MP's to concentrate on policies rather than fundraising now?

How the rich get richer ....

Jimmy: Mr Woodhouse does benefit personally for those $10,000 a seat "Cabinet Club" memberships - all that money raised from the 1%ers will be used to pay for his reelection - without that money paying for advertising, billboards, PR flacks etc etc he's just be another back bencher, he'll lose his ministerial salary and his taxpayer funded limo - I'm sure he doesn't want that, so he shows up to help top up National's coffers.

sv3: yes National got 47% of the vote, but they paid for it with the 1%'s money they're raising by pimping out their cabinet ministers - the other 46% can't afford to spend thousands of dollars to get some one on one time with a cabinet minister, but their votes can be bought with some PR spin and a smiling currency trader who doesn't really have their interests at heart.

As I said below, National has a problem, their policies only really benefit a small portion of the population, those who made out big when the rich people got a tax cut and GST was increased on all of us to pay or it - the only way they can get the number of votes they do is by paying for a lot of PR, and the only way they can pay for that is by raising large amounts of money from the people who benefit the most from their policies.

Political distractions

MikeStk: I have to admitt that National MP Woodhouse did provide services in return for money by attending fundraising meetings. I think you can see there is no evidence of him offering (or accepting) to do political favors. By the way, it costs nothing to meet your local MPs. Just phone to book a time. I have met Michael Woodhouse on one occasion and although he listened, he wasn't sympathetic to my point of view.

You say that Our political parties should not be for sale, neither should our government. I fully agree with you. And therefore that is why it is important that when you are having a witch-hunt, that you are sure that you are chasing a real witch and not an innocent villager. These are desperate times for Labour-Green-Mana. It is disappointing that our media is so easily captured by a campaign like this. [Abridged]


The 1%?

MikeStk: National was the party of about 47% at the last election, and suspect they will be similar at the next. The opposition are just putting dots out there for people to join by because there's nothing more than circumstantial evidence of any foul play. Indeed, there are many pots inferring that many kettles are black. Particularly as all donations in question are legitimate and declared. 


Woodhouse not guilty

Hype.O.Thermia: You nor anyone else have shown that National MP Woodhouse provided services in return for money. You say that "a donor made use of the meeting to push for something advantageous to himself ". I think that you would find that MPs and Ministers are constantly lobbied by people wanting things. It would not be unusual if Donghua Liu tried to lobby MP Woodhouse. There is no wrongdoing unless Donghua Liu's donation was received with the expectation that MP Woodhouse was going to do something in return for the money.

We see that Donghua Liu wanted something and that he paid money, but no-one has shown that the payment was linked to any action or vote of the Minister. The Minister has denied being influenced by Donghua Liu's donation and no-one has shown that he was. Its a beat-up from our hyperactive media.

Key dog

Wouldn't it be great if Woodhouse could actually lobby for Dunedin instead of just being a Key lap-dog?

Services for money

Jimmy: the National Party holds "cabinet club" meetings like the one Mr Key attended today, and the one Mr Woodhouse attended in Dunedin. These are functions where people give money to attend events where cabinet ministers will be present. By simply showing up Mr Woodhouse provided a service for money. 

Our political parties should not be for sale, neither should our government. 

Yes, it's credible

"For a claim like yours to be even slightly credible, you would have to show that a particular donor wanted a political favour." 
Well,  according to this article  "Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse has confirmed that he met with Chinese businessman Donghua Liu, and heard his requests for a change in immigration policy." 
This is not to say that Mr Woodhouse took the money and agreed to immediately get to work to change policy, but it does show that a donor made use of the meeting to push for something advantageous to himself.  This is bad according to our culture, but normal according to the donor's. 
The other thing is that while any of us can write  to MPs, and can go to their electorate office, very few of us this direct access to the politician. Nor do they appear to pay as much attention to our concerns where we are not asking for assistance to chop through some bureaucratic delay where we have been given the mushroom treatment by petty officials. [Abridged]

Just the facts

For those that had the opportunity to actually see Parliament in action today, it was clear that Michael Woodhouse visited Mr Liu at his hotel to discuss the reduction in requirements to gain permanent NZ residency.  This is the same man that was the cause of Mr Williamson being sacked because he intervened into an active Police case concerning a charge of assault which has now been admitted by Mr Liu.  Mr Liu, amongst others, has been gaining ready access to Cabinet Ministers to press their various cases for more favourable treatment.

What we also know is that this is the normal way of conducting business in China. Whether we like it or not, this way of doing business is now clearly becoming the "accepted" way of doing business here in New Zealand, and in this case, it has been the coffers of the National Party that has benefitted.  All that has been accepted.  What National are failing to admit to - and this is no doubt now reflected in their sharp reduction in support - is that most New Zealanders don't like or accept the Chinese way of doing business in this country. [Abridged]

Political malignment

MikeStk, you (and TV3 and Government Radio) haven't given any logical reason to support your claim that National MP Woodhouse provided services in return for money. Senior MPs of all/most political parties involve themselves in fundraising. Are you trying to tell us that because money was paid as donations, then that means that there was therefore some agreement to provide political favours? Using your logic, it would seem that you believe that all political donations are corrupt.

For a claim like yours to be even slightly credible, you would have to show that a particular donor wanted a political favour, and that they paid the MP with that expectation, and that the favour was granted . You haven't shown any of these things. TV3 and other media display the intellectual capacity of a sea-slug. You should not copy and paste from them.

Level playing field needed

I don't think that selling access to cabinet ministers through "cabinet clubs" for the wealthy is a better solution than public funding to reducing corruption in politics. On the other hand I'd rather we didn't spend a lot on political parties. I think they should be funded by their members with a cap on individual contributions, and foreign (non-resident) or corporate sponsorship should be banned. The source of all donations should of course be public and open so we know exactly where our politicians are getting their money from.
Of course there's a more practical background here. National has long been faced with a real problem - it's the party of the 1%, and well, there's not very many of them. Labour and the Greens, on the other hand, both have quite large feet-on-the-ground party memberships. So how does National get more than 1% of the votes? The answer of course is that it has to outspend its competition to make its ideas appear to have more general acceptance.
Really, what we ought to have is a level playing field in the marketplace of ideas that is politics - your idea shouldn't be 'better' simply because you can back it with more money. That's not how ideas actually work.


A long bow to draw

That comment is a long bow to draw in this case, MikeStk. The money has to come from somewhere and it's not like tax payer funding of political parties is a desirable alternative. Therefore it's up to the people and companies who identify with a given party's values to fund that party that will support those values. If an individual is motivated enough to give money to the cause they are also going to be motivated to meet with the people they are giving money to. This is all above board. If it were the case that non-donating citizens were blocked access from (and influence on) MPs or ministers then that would indeed be corrupt but this is not the case. Much like the Oravida saga the opposition has failed to provide a smoking gun to prove that their suggestions have substance. It's all rubbish politics and mud throwing which is wasting tax payer time and money. I would rather the opposition got on with presenting themselves as an alternative Government. Labour's monetary policy proves that someone in that party is beginning to think because though the policy is rather flawed it is certainly innovative and shows signs of Labour getting its act together. 

Our political parties should not be for sale

Sure anyone can call up a cabinet minister, they might even get through. But if I pay show up at one of Mr Woodhouse's "cabinet club" meetings where it's clearly understood by all concerned that (nudge nudge, wink wink) everyone present  has made a sizable donation to the National Party can Mr Woodhouse promise me that I'll get no more attention than a poor refugee with no money on the phone?

I don't really see a point to having people pay to attend a "cabinet club" that let's you have private access to cabinet ministers that doesn't involve some form of corruption - New Zealand political parties, including in this case the National Party should not be for sale to the highest bidder.


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