Wednesday, November 22, 2006



Evading the law

The National Party claims to have found a way around its impasse over their conveniently "forgotten" GST: purchasing advertising on behalf of charities. This apparently allows them to evade the legal repurcussions, while ensuring that broadcasters get (some of) their money (but only in exchange for giving away another slice of airtime).

So, will they be doing it again next election then?

Update: DPF calls this a "win-win", but there are two clear losers: firstly, TVNZ, the broadcasters, whose money has effectively been given to charity, and the New Zealand public, who get to see a party "mistakenly" violate its broadcasting advertising limits, then evade any punishment. Those limits exist for good reasons - to ensure a level playing field between (the two major) parties, and to ensure that the rich cannot buy their way to political power. But clearly, that is exactly what National thinks it should be able to do.

I'm also not clear on why they think this is avoiding the law. A payment is being made, it is clearly being made for their outstanding broadcasting expenses, and National says that is why it is being made. Surely that should invite prosecution? Are are they hoping to have intimidated the police into submission by claims that enforcing the law would somehow be "biased"?

6 comments:

TVNZ et. al. weren't entitled to the money - if they accepted it they'd have faced the same $100,000 fine National would have.

The NZ Public are losers not because of this decision but the decision not to prosecute National at the time.

I note you talk of a level playing field between the major parties - Labour spending $1.095 million and National spending $1.0125 million is not a level playing field. Labour got to spend more on broadcast advertising than National.

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 11/22/2006 06:52:00 PM

Besides TVNZ will have a donations budget anyway. Maybe they will deduct from that.

As to the New Zealand public loosing - I can see three ways to handle it

1) The fair/principled approach - where you take the axe to labour (i.e. not just asking them to pay it back) and national.
2) The legal approach - if national has side stepped the technical breach of the law (which it probably has) then ignore it.
3) The sleeping dogs approach - Don’t mess with them.

Is there any other?

Posted by Genius : 11/22/2006 08:24:00 PM

"I note you talk of a level playing field between the major parties - Labour spending $1.095 million and National spending $1.0125 million is not a level playing field. Labour got to spend more on broadcast advertising than National."

Well its about as level as your going to get! But then what about the down wind advantage? And should they swap ends at half-time? Whose playing into the sun.

Does anybody actually WATCH those ads anyway?

Posted by Anonymous : 11/22/2006 08:51:00 PM

I've never understood the argument that TVNZ weren't entitled to the money (except in the sense that it goes to the IRD anyway). Surely National, or whoever actually handles the payment, is in breach of the contract they had with TVNZ? (Since TVNZ has no way of knowing at the time that National has made those arrangements with other broadcasters, they can't be said to be complicit). Do you mean because they haven't sued yet?

Posted by Anonymous : 11/22/2006 09:48:00 PM

anon - there's an explanation here:
http://www.sirhumphreys.com/lbj/2006/nov/14/why_doesnt_tvnz_sue

Certainly TVNZ et. al. have not sued.

And while TVNZ may not have been complicit (still broke the law, however) at the time, however, they now know to accept the money would be in breach. If the broadcast and the payment really are two separate crimes, then TVNZ would face the fine along with National

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 11/22/2006 10:15:00 PM

What a dog's breakfast. Now that Don's gone, let the National Party write their retrospective legislation allowing them to pay the money. Ridiculous, no?

Posted by Pablo : 11/23/2006 04:29:00 PM