Green Party cross with Labour after swanky dinner with minister

The Greens aren't impressed with Labour's Grant Robertson taking part in a fundraising dinner where attendees paid $600 for tickets.

The Finance Minister delivered a speech at the event, held at the prestigious Wellington Club on Wednesday, which has drawn comparisons to National's 'Cabinet Club' scandal in 2014.

Green co-leader Marama Davidson says she's had a word to Labour.

"I've simply registered a concern that high-end fundraisers are not the best look and it's not something that the Greens would do," she told Newshub.

"Every political party absolutely does fundraising and we completely understand that. The Green Party holds fundraisers that our ministers of course attend, but we wouldn't hold something that was high-end," she said.

"We tend to cater our fundraisers towards being affordable and inclusive, and suitable to our members, communities and constituencies who are our supporters."

Earlier this year the Green Party announced its ministers would be required to proactively release their diaries so people could see who they were meeting, and MPs would not be permitted to accept corporate hospitality.

Grant Robertson, Labour MP and Finance Minister, on Budget Day.
Grant Robertson, Labour MP and Finance Minister, on Budget Day. Photo credit: Newshub.

The Wellington Club event

About 40 people attended the event in Wellington, according to Stuff. That would bring the amount fundraised before expenses to about $24,000. A second dinner was hosted at Auckland's Northern Club on Thursday night.

The dinners raise questions about access the wealthy get to politicians - Stuff reports after the dinner, Mr Robertson mingled with the guests, going table to table.

The Minister of Finance Grant Robertson was not available for comment on Thursday.

"Our comment is that it's a party matter and Nigel [Haworth] is the person for you to contact," his office said.

Newshub called Labour Party President Nigel Haworth, who was not available for comment as he was too busy with the Northcote by-election.

An invitation to the event uses Mr Robertson as a hook - "You are cordially invited to join me at a private post-Budget dinner with the Finance Minister, Hon Grant Robertson MP," the letter from Haworth reportedly reads.

The reference to Mr Robertson as a minister could get him in trouble - he should have been wearing his "Labour Party MP hat", not his "ministerial hat" at the fundraising event.

"Cabinet club"

The $600-each exclusive dinner is reminiscent of a similar fundraising effort from National in 2014.

Supporters paid a $1000-plus fee or donation to National in order to attend "informal luncheon/breakfast get-togethers". It was named the 'Cabinet Club', and offered access to Cabinet ministers.

Again, the party claimed senior MPs did not attend in "a ministerial capacity".

At the time, Labour called the Cabinet Club "cash-for-access."

The President's Club

In 2017, Labour launched The President's Club, in which big donors could access the party and talk policy.

Last year, Haworth said the President's Club differs from Cabinet Club because Labour MPs aren't involved and aren't used to lure in donations in exchange for access.