Former minister can't recall meeting Liu

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 16:54 25/06/2014
donghua liu
DAVID WHITE
Donghua Liu
Cunliffe
Fairfax NZ
DAVID CUNLIFFE: Says he wants an apology.

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Former associate immigration minister Damien O'Connor says he can't remember granting Donghua Liu residency - and doesn't think he has ever met him.

The West Coast Tasman MP said the case would have been one of around 4500 he dealt with while in government.

Liu was given residency, against the advice of officials, in 2005.

Labour leader David Cunliffe and former minister Chris Carter both wrote letters on behalf of the Auckland property developer.

"I don't think I have [met him] - I've clearly met many people through the years, but I can't ever recall that,'' O'Connor said.

He doesn't remember the letters from other MPs.

"I've not been in a position to study any of the claims, or the facts. But it just seems a strange situation and I'm sure the facts as they are will come out.''

CHALLENGE TO LIU

Cunliffe wants Donghua Liu and the media to apologise over claims the wealthy businessman donated $150,000 to the party.

Liu reportedly gave $150,000 to the party in 2007.

The Auckland property developer now says he spent $100,000 in total. This includes about $60,000 on a Yangtze River cruise, on which he says ex-internal affairs minister Rick Barker was a guest. There was also a $2000 donation to the Hawke's Bay Rowing club, wine auctions and anonymous gifts to MPs.

Cunliffe said he had been looking at his "options" but wouldn't say if he planned to take legal action.

"It vindicates the position that we have taken, which is to challenge him and those reporting on the claim to produce the evidence," he said.

Cunliffe said he hadn't talked to Barker or O'Connor.

Cunliffe said there was "no basis" to question O'Connor.

"'There is no prima facie case being made that Mr O'Connor has acted in any way inappropriately," he said.

He added: "If I was Mr Barker, I think I'd be entitled to feel pretty aggrieved about that.

"I doubt that Mr Barker asked Mr Liu to take his entire company on a boat trip. It seems unfair - even if that was the cost and who knows - to count it as a donation to Mr Barker or the Labour party. Frankly it's ludicrous."

Cunliffe said it was "coincidental" Liu's original statement was signed a few days after the resignation of minister Maurice Williamson.

"People can draw their own conclusions," he said.

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Williamson resigned after it was revealed he called the police on Liu's behalf to inquire about domestic abuse charges the businessman was facing.

Cunliffe wouldn't say if he would take action or lay a complaint with media regulatory bodies, but he wants "fair and equal treatment from those who reported erroneous figures to correct it".

Deputy David Parker added: "We'll expect to see some thorough reporting about some of the journalistic standards that have been shown by some of the media around this event."

- Stuff

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