Yesterday, National asked for the House to grant leave to introduce its Broadcasting (2005 Election Broadcasting Reimbursement) Amendment Bill, which would have allowed them to effectively pay broadcasters the unpaid GST on its electoral advertising. However, New Zealand First, the Greens, and the Maori Party all objected, meaning the bill will have to go into the ballot.
I'm not impressed. While I don't like National getting off the hook like this, I don't like the broadcasters being left out of pocket either (currently, they have no way to enforce payment, as paying the outstanding money would be illegal). And the parties' proposed "solutions" - that National simply pay up and take its lumps, or that the overspending be deducted from their allocation next election - aren't. The former simply is not going to happen - no-one is going to stand up for a $100,000 fine when they don't have to - and the latter, if not generalised so as to include Labour's overspending as well, is practically a Bill of Attainder (if generalised, of course, Labour would fight it tooth and nail). Given the realities of the political situation, the best that can be done is to extract the money from National, pay the broadcasters, and then make sure that it can't happen again by reforming the Electoral Act.