The Herald is reporting that a letter from the Solicitor-General's office contradicts political parties' claims that political spending was approved. According to the Acting Solicitor General, Parliamentary Services' job is to administer payments, they have no statutory power of decision-making, and are unable to vet spending before it is paid. Sure - but they certainly have a de facto power, and they definitely do vet spending, regardless of whether they're supposed to or not. According to one insider I've spoken to, their caucus would always ask whether a proposed publication had been run past Parliamentary Services, and the practice of informally running proposals past them before committing to spending money seems to be widespread. It's just a common courtesy, and it stops parties from wasting everyone's time and digging themselves financial holes.
More importantly, even if they have no vetting power, the fact that they administer spending and reject invoices for spending which they judge does not meet the criteria can only lead to the inescapable conclusion that if they paid up, (they thought that) the spending was OK. For the Solicitor-General to then say "actually, they got it wrong, and so the people who relied on them to get it right are responsible" seems more than a little unfair, and a perfect example of changing the rules after the game has been played. Dean Knight makes a strong case that this sort of shifting the goalposts runs counter to the Rule of Law, and makes it impossible for people to reasonably plan their lives or rely on government decisions, and I agree. It's one thing to find out that your own behaviour was illegal after the fact, its quite another to be held responsible because someone else's was.