Wednesday, September 13, 2006



One law for all, for everyone but National

While tidying the other day, I came across a pile of flyers I'd saved from the 2005 election - including several from the Brethren. But given the current fuss over the pledge card, one in particular caught my eye. Here's a scan:

Note the presence of both a smiling Don Brash, and a Parliamentary Crest, indicating that this was paid for from National's Parliamentary Services budget. I'm not sure when exactly I received this - possibly it was before the election had been announced, as part of National's pre-election campaign in which they spent millions outside of their election spending cap. But content-wise, it clearly appears to encourage or persuade voters to vote for National, just as the pledge-card did for Labour. "One law for all, for everyone but National" again, it seems...

26 comments:

If we accept that the law was vague THEN

the appropriate response to this situation is to say "woops you got me, tell me how much I owe and Ill pay it back"

This is what I think ACT's position is as far as I can tell.

In that case, all of this should get bundled together in the A-G's report. parties looking over their history and trying to pay back random items would just get really confusing.

I expect of the A-G doesn't like this pamphlet it will be repayed or it has already been repayed.

If it is outside the scope of this review then you can raise the issue and national wil be liable if it gets assesed as ilegitimate.

I don't mind labour also waiting for the AG position BUT what I do mind is them saying they wont pay no matter what his position is. (and htey probably know it already)

Posted by Genius : 9/13/2006 07:25:00 AM

And again the Helen spin accepted. This was produced around 18 months before the election. And timing is important. Read the AG's report about having a parliamentary purpose.

A pledge card released *after* the House has risen has no parliamentary purpose. A pledge card which a party states is the centrepiece of their re-election campaign is not something for taxpayers to fund.

Yes there are some areas of grey and ACT have shown you can reason with the AG on this. But the pledge card is black black black.

Posted by David Farrar : 9/13/2006 07:47:00 AM

Note David says 'produced' not 'distributed' - when was it distributed David?

Posted by Anonymous : 9/13/2006 09:22:00 AM

I got one a few weeks before the election. And if I recall correctly, they were also available from Mark Blumbsky's campaign office on Manners Street.
Hmmm, I wonder how Blumbsky funded that office? Oh wait, a big rich building owner gave him free rent.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/13/2006 09:53:00 AM

David, the only reason the AG picked his three month prior to the election scope is because that is a period he has not reported on.

You are saying it is perfectly acceptable for National to steal from the tax payer to fund election material so long as parlianent is sitting?

Try running that mealie worded line past your average voter.

Posted by noddy : 9/13/2006 09:55:00 AM

Anonymous,

How did you get on the internet?

Oh, wait, the wealthy taxpayer via WINZ gave you a free computer.

Pathetic.

Posted by Insolent Prick : 9/13/2006 10:08:00 AM

And DPF - I am pretty sure that the pledge card was red not black. hehe.

Seriously DPF - get real. National receives thousands and thousands of "anonymous" donations which funded its campaign. You want corruption. There it is. You want trying to steal an election. There it is.

Look in the mirror and realise that not only are you the ugliest mo-fo, but also a member of a corrupt political party.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/13/2006 10:12:00 AM

anonymous: That's right - attack the man personally.

Secondly - anonymous donations are not corrupt - they are anonymous. If you can prove that they are not anonymous, then take your evidence to the police, and the country will congratulate you on proving a criminal act. If you have no evidence, then stop making baseless allegations.

And before you spout Helen's line that there was "cash for policy" from the insurance companies, they have come out and said that they did not donate to national in 2005. Apparently Helen's comments were based on the fact that they donated to both main parties in 1999 & 2002, but labour didn't get a donation in 2005.

Posted by spam : 9/13/2006 11:19:00 AM

Anonymous:

Well before the election, and I worked on the North Shore campaign where we were told the leaflet I/S cites were NOT to be distributed under any circumstances.

Keep spinning folks. Perhaps I/S would like to comment on the leader's budget being used by Helen Clark to pay her legal bills in Darnton v. Clark? Personally, I'd have no problem with the damn things being abolished outright, but Labour and it's apologists can't have it both ways.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 9/13/2006 11:23:00 AM

Craig - Labour MPs have been sued because they hold office as Labour MPs; defending this lawsuit is a legitimate expense for the leader's fund. It is not electioneering, nor a party cost, it is a cost of being an MP.

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 9/13/2006 11:32:00 AM

Graeme,

What are the stipulations for the leadrs' fund?

My understanding is that they are being sued because of decisions made by the labour party, not the (labour) government.

Posted by spam : 9/13/2006 11:40:00 AM

DPF: So National's point of principle is really a point of timing. Lovely.

Thinking back, I think I was given this when the local national Party candidate knocked on my door. It was before the election date had been formally announced, but everyone knew it was coming. And in any case, how is that not electioneering? Because its blue, not red?

Spam: the point of anonymous donations being anonymous is precisely to prevent people from being able to see whether politicians are in fact being bought. And while they claim to ensure that no-one actually knows who the donors are, if you believe that, I have an ugly, round building in Wellington I'd like to sell you...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/13/2006 11:47:00 AM

I/S
the point of anonymous donations being anonymous is precisely to prevent people from being able to see whether politicians are in fact being bought

That's bollocks - the purpose is not to allow cover-ups. It is to prevent any suggestion that the politicians have been bought.

But if you have more evidence than just nudge-nudge, wink-wink, then bring it on. I don't care which side of the political spectrum its on - cash for policies is not acceptable.

Posted by spam : 9/13/2006 11:54:00 AM

"My understanding is that they are being sued because of decisions made by the labour party, not the (labour) government."

I don't believe so.

The decisions made being sued upon were decisions of the Labour Parliamentary Party.

The Labour Parliamentary Party is alleged to have used funds allotted to it for the benefit of the Labour Party, which is arguably not allowed.

Mike Williams argued they spent the money and didn't ask me, didn't get permission from me, and that's why it shouldn't be included as a campaign expense for the Labour Party.

Expenses of the (Labour) Government are covered by government funds (i.e. you might have the DPMC funding a Crown Law defence of the claims), the leaders fund is for Labour's Parliamentary (not related to government) expenses.

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 9/13/2006 12:28:00 PM

Spam: the purpose is not to allow cover-ups. It is to prevent any suggestion that the politicians have been bought.

By ensuring that everything is secret and thereby preventing anyone from proving anything one way or another. Some "prevention".

The only way to prevent such imputations is total transparency - so the public can see that everything is above board, and where there are financial relationships, judge for themselves what is acceptable and what is not (isn't that what democracy is all about?) But its precisely that judgement that the advocates of secrecy seem to fear. I wonder why?

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/13/2006 12:42:00 PM

I/S:

First, I'll suggest that pseudonymous political bloggers start out with a certain credibility gap when talking about "complete transparency".

But let's take the phrase seriously. I look forward to Labour putting up legislation that does the following:

1) Empowers the Electoral Commission to collect and publish on-line the names and occupations, and membership dues paid of all members of all registered political parties.

2) Requires all registered political parties to supply the names and occupations of all non-members who pay for any goods, services or considerations offered by way of fund-raising from tickets to a private screening of a movie, dinner, raffle ticket etc.

After all, I/S, if you belong to a political party how could you object to this if you've nothing to hide? I'd suggest it would take very minor legislative changes to deal with any Privacy or Human Rights Acts implications - and we could even make it retrospective.

3) Puts in place serious consequences - punitive fines, prison time or even deregistration - for any political parties that doesn't comply with these disclosure reuqirements.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 9/13/2006 01:35:00 PM

That's an hysterical approach, I/S.

People make anonymous donations for all sorts of reasons, to all political parties. If an electorate treasurer went around bandying about who paid what in membership, among the identifiable donors under the donation limit, the sources of those funds would VERY quickly dry up.

My experience is that people consider donating to a political party to be a private act. It is an expression of their personal support for that party. They don't necessarily want it shouted from the rooftops. They certainly don't expect a policy return, except to the extent that they believe that the policies of the party are consistent with their beliefs.

There is absolutely no evidence that people expect a direct policy return for a donation, to and from any political party. That is a deliberate attempt at distraction politics, while the heat is on Labour.

Would the sources of donations over $250 to the National Party dry up if Labour required public disclosure? Of course it bloody would. But not because there would be greater transparency, or less cash-for-policies, which are a pinko myth. The reason is that for the thousands of National Party members who make donations over $250, the fear of Labour targetting them is immense.

If you're going to introduce that law, it's only fair that you introduce a law publicly declaring the members of all political parties, and all affiliated unions.

Posted by Insolent Prick : 9/13/2006 01:48:00 PM

The only way to prevent such imputations is total transparency - so the public can see that everything is above board, and where there are financial relationships, judge for themselves what is acceptable and what is not (isn't that what democracy is all about?)

No, its not the only way. For example, Set-up an independent third-party to handle all donations. Obfuscate them and filter them through to the destination parties so that the parties can't back-allocate any given donation amount or date (eg. the insurance council gives the nats 100k; as do the CTU. The nats get a series of payments of 10k over the period of the next three months).

But its precisely that judgement that the advocates of secrecy seem to fear. I wonder why?
Given Cullen's threats towards the Herald, I don't think your question needs to be rhetorical.

Posted by spam : 9/13/2006 02:39:00 PM

Craig: of course, grassroots membership is a rather different kettle of fish from large donors buying influence - but don't let that stop you.

And I don't belong to any political party. I don't like the idea of anybody else purporting to speak for me, or the implied limits that would place on "friendly fire" (at least in the eyes of other members). Given my political beliefs, I have considered joining the greens, but I haven't taken that step yet, and would feel obliged to say so if I did.

Spam: the term you're after there is "money laundering". And while theoretically it insulates the politicians from knowing who is funding them, there will always be the suspicion that they will be told, and the laundering exists solely to give plausible deniability and hide the relationship from the public.

Again, this is a democracy, and people are perfectly capable of judging for themselves what is acceptable and what is not, and how beholden they want their representatives to be. And they should be given that right. Fortunately, it looks like they will.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/13/2006 03:37:00 PM

I/S:

Yes the "laundering" (your word, not mine) would be there to provide plausible denial, but I think its a reasonable precaution.

Unfortunately, those entrusted to enact our democratic process are not holier-than-thou types who are beyond reproach.

Were donations made public, people who are reliant on government contracts (for example), may find themselves out-of-favour should they happen to back the wrong horse. Others may find themselves on the wrong-end of audits. Others may find themselves referenced in smear-campaigns launched from behind parliamentary priviledge.

I would actually imagine that donations would largely dry-up from anyone who may be in this position (which I guess is Helen et-als main reasoning).

Strangely, I don't think it is particularly democratic for one party to force through legislation specifically aimed at removing funding from another party. It does seem rather vindictive, punitive and childish, don't you think?

Posted by spam : 9/13/2006 05:19:00 PM

I/S:

No, if you're going to throw around rhetoical McNuggets like 'complete transparency' how exactly is "grassroots membership [...] a rather different kettle of fish from large donors buying influence"? Don't people join political parties - and pay membership subs - precisely to exert influence, however modest. over policy and (potentially) the legislative agenda of a Government?

And what's the difference between saying people have the absolute right to know who donates to a political party - and judge for themselves whether there's any truth to the assertion that the insurance industry is in some 'cash for policy' deal with National - and whether people who work in the insurance industry are joining, and paying whacking great membership subs, to whatever party?

It seems I made the mistake of thinking 'complete transparency' was more than cant. Pardon my error.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 9/13/2006 05:57:00 PM

Politics - even democracy - is in part a way of channeling those who would otherwise influence via other methods. It keeps the activists in check because they believe they can influence the result far beyond their actual fraction of the population.

One could do that by paying money to a campaign, or one could do it by devoting lots of your personal time or using your social network or whatever. All of which are, in a sense, undemocratic.

Posted by Genius : 9/13/2006 06:35:00 PM

There's nothing undemocratic about devoting personal time, because anyone can do that. Paying large sums of money _is_ undemocratic, because only the wealthy have that option.

Posted by Commie Mutant Traitor : 9/14/2006 11:28:00 AM

"There's nothing undemocratic about devoting personal time, because anyone can do that."

So a full-time working professional supporting a family has the same amount of spare time as, say, a full-time single unemployed?

By your own logic (availablity of resource - be it time or money) that seems quite undemocratic.

Posted by Jim : 9/14/2006 12:05:00 PM

Getting a full time job and raising a family is a personal choice. Your hypothetical professional could have chosen to be single and unemployed in order to focus their efforts on politics if they had so desired. The average unemployed single person, on the other hand, does not have the choice of a seven or eight figure income.

Posted by Commie Mutant Traitor : 9/14/2006 01:31:00 PM

> There's nothing undemocratic about devoting personal time, because anyone can do that.

that is really a bit like the capitalist argument that "anyone can earn money". Not everyone is great at getting their point across or organizing protests etc - there are absolutly huge differences in that area (which is why hitlers can almost rule the world while Bill gates can't).
Regardless - the bottom line is that not everyone does it therefore not everyone has equal influence.

> Your hypothetical professional could have chosen to be single and unemployed in order to focus their efforts on politics if they had so desired.

thats a bit like saying your hypothetical poor person could have got themself an MBA and a super rich lover.

Posted by Genius : 9/14/2006 06:54:00 PM