Wednesday, October 18, 2006


The Appropriation (Parliamentary Expenditure Validation) Bill just passed its third reading 61 to 50, with 6 abstentions (and the Maori Party not voting). We won, you lost, suck it. Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Services Commission has already begun the process of formulating new rules, including the basic step of having Parliamentary Services actually check material before paying for it. Which means that we should not see this sort of retrospective reinterpretation happening again.


I/S, are you actually comfortable with the fact that the Government explicitly voted against the amendment that would have allowed the Darnton vs. Clark lawsuit to continue?

I mean, this is corruption above & beyond any wrongdoing committed during the election campaign. As DPF put it:

"This means Labour have explictly voted to kill off a lawsuit against themselves. This is even more repugnant that what Muldoon did as he did not stand to personally benefit from his actions in Fitzgerald v Muldoon."

[On a related note, I suggest that anyone opposed to the retroactive legislation should visit & 'sign' the No Royal Assent to Electoral Act Violations petition.]

Posted by Duncan Bayne : 10/18/2006 08:02:00 PM

> We won, you lost, suck it.

Im fairly neutral on the issue of validation (not sure if it is required but I'll take the money and be content with that)....

But that is not good form to say "we have the power so we can do anything and you have no power so you have to just take it".

Unless you really are an authoritarian.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/18/2006 08:39:00 PM

"We won, you lost, suck it"

To see how divise Labour's approach has become, see the online petition to withhold royal assent.

Of course there is no chance royal assent will be refused. But there is no way to 'spin' the over 3000 signatures gathered so far (in less than a day).

Like George Bush's America, Helen Clark's NZ seems to one where "you are for us or you are against us". Well, a lot of people are saying, then I'm against you.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/18/2006 08:51:00 PM

There are probably important issues of principle here, and I suppose I should take them seriously. But when National MPs and their allies are brandishing "Clark = Mugabe" posters, I can't help feel they don't even take it seriously themselves. So they forfeit the right to my respect or attention.

One of the things that offends me most in comfortable, liberal, couch potato democracies, is any absurd analogy with real, murderous repression. Usually it's a comparison with the Nazis. It's lazy, it's ignorant, it's self-absorbed, and above all, it betrays a stomach-churning lack of sympathy for the real victims of oppression, as though they are good for nothing but cheap political point-scoring. Mugabe? Get a grip. The man's got buckets of blood on his hands.

A week or two living under the dictator they invoke might restore some balance to their narrow little minds.


Posted by Anonymous : 10/18/2006 10:03:00 PM

Irony I/S? Channelling Jordan Carter? Hey, I think storm/teacup etc on this issue to an extent but am nevertheless a little surprised by your comment.

Posted by backin15 : 10/18/2006 10:58:00 PM

Um, yes we lost. In a "you killed all the civillians to get to the terrorist" sort of way.

Sucks to be you, winner.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/18/2006 11:46:00 PM

Duncan: The A-G's ruling made the lawsuit pretty much a moot point - the spending was unlawful. And now (as I've pointed out elsewhere) the usual procedure has been followed, and the spending validated. That is how our constitutional system operates. And its difficult to see how this could have been done while preserving the lawsuit, or what the point of doing so would have been (yes, I know you wanted to grandstand, but the A-G beat you to it. Get over it already).

Kiwi Donkey: While I think the underlying premise of the petition is nonsensical and reveals a fundamental constitutional ignorance, 3000 signatures in a day is indeed an achievement. Just remember to get them to a polling booth next election...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 10/19/2006 02:05:00 AM

Backin15: Nope, no irony at all. After the viciousness, hypocrisy, hyperbole and misrepresentation there has been over this issue, and the way National has flung around allegations of "corruption" while pretending that the spending in question was not normal Parliamentary practice, that their hands were perfectly clean, or that retrospective validation of unappropriated expenditure is not normal Parliamentary procedure, I think they deserve to have their noses rubbed in it a bit. For all their moral hauteur, and with (if you believed them) the best case in the world, they were unable to build a coalition in Parliament to support their position (not that they had much of one beyond their soundbite "the government was wrong and they should pay the money back". Done and done - got anything else besides sloganeering and a pile of partisan outrage?) This wasn't because the parties in question were "corrupt" - it was because they thought National (and the A-G) were wrong. And they've now firmly established that position in law.

Not that its much of a victory. The status quo ante is restored while Parliament decides (in consultation with the A-G) what MPs can spend their money on (this may result in changes to the appropriation in the next budget. That's part of the process too) - but that was hardly worth the political shitfight that was had over it. Labour still has to repay the money (anyone who thinks they won't is a fool or a shill; the public simply won't stand for it, and Labour knows it. Winston, OTOH...), and more importantly it is still tarred by its illegal election expenditure, even if this can no longer be prosecuted. And I think the latter is really going to cost them.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 10/19/2006 02:30:00 AM

"Just had a look at some of the names on the petition, reads awfully like a white boys club to me! Suprising that there are people with such contempt for democracy." says james cairney. Not that surprising really. Fascism/neo-fascism has always been the middle class ideology of choice, and you only have to visit sir humphreys or see David Farrar, the Josef Goebbels of the National party, posting up the Mugabe image to whip his bownshirts into another round of hate filled frenzy to realise that neo-fascism is just where these people are going to eventually end up as their illogical hatred of Labour paints them into an ever more extreme political corner.

Posted by Sanctuary : 10/19/2006 08:57:00 AM

By making this a C&S issue Labour have also headed off National's claims about it lacking in legitamacy. If National had mustered enough votes in parliament it could have unseated this government.

It failed, just as it failed to win an election. Someone needs to educate them about the democratic convention in this country.

Where National has succeeded is in polarising the debate. No longer do we discuss which policies are best for our country, we are now all relegated to side line cheerleaders. This is what National want because it seems they lack the confidence after 7 years to win votes on a policy debate.

Hence the Mugabe comparisons. When I saw that I nearly vomitted. Simple point, if Farrar or I/S tried running similar sites in Zimbabwe they would soon be applying for refuge status in NZ. Ironic, eh.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/19/2006 09:18:00 AM

I also note that for all their shrillness National still has not paid the broadcasters their GST. They need retrospective legislation to make this payment legal.

And guess which National MP didn't understand the AG's rules? Mark Blumskey, whose agent was non-other than David Farrar. More irony.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/19/2006 09:23:00 AM

Noddy - National do not need retrospective legislation to make payment of the GST legal.

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 10/19/2006 09:41:00 AM

graeme - what did they need it for then? My understanding was that if they pay the $100k they breach the law on TV spending limits and possibly incur a fine of $110k.

Can you clarify your point or is simply a question of timing? (not yet paid so no breach of a law yet but there will be as soon as they do pay. Seems like a nicety to me and surely they are only not in breqach of contract law because the broadcasters are being nice to them) Thanks.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/19/2006 09:57:00 AM

It is hilarious to see people criticising the "white boys club" on the petition. Not only is this factually wrong, it astonishingly racist.

WAKE UP. Smell the divisiveness.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/19/2006 10:16:00 AM

As for retrospectivity it is a question of timing.

They haven't paid the $112,500 they owe so they haven't committed an offence they they need to be retrospectively cleared of.

However, despite the advice of their lawyers, the Chief Electoral Officer and others, I'm not convinced paying the money now would be a breach of the Broadcasting Act:

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 10/19/2006 10:35:00 AM

Graeme Edgeler: Actually, being fined or having other consequences on the GST would be *brilliant* for National politically. "Legislation clears Labour but not National". Imagine how that would play.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/19/2006 10:43:00 AM

"Legislation clears Labour but not National". Imagine how that would play.

I suspect it would play very well indeed on kiwiblog and sir-h, but would be roundly ignored by the other 99.93% of the population, who are roundly sick of the whole business and want to get on with life.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/19/2006 10:50:00 AM

Graeme - I would argue that National incurred the cost in 2005 and that is when the technically breached the law. So, whilst there may be some cute semantics, they are effectively asking for legislation to right a wrong that has already taken place.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/19/2006 11:02:00 AM

"being fined or having other consequences on the GST would be *brilliant* for National politically..."

Which goes to show what a lousy opposition National are under Brash. I can only imagine how shit a government they would make with him as PM.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/19/2006 11:11:00 AM

"Helen Clark isn't as bad as Mugabe".

That has to be the lamest defense I've heard of a politician in a very long time.

Posted by Duncan Bayne : 10/19/2006 11:18:00 AM


"Pay it back" may have been the Tory line - but that's because they had their noses in the trough themselves, just see the figures DPF published on his blog.

However, as Darnton put it in Paying It Back Isn’t Enough:

They need to admit their wrongdoing and assure us that they will not steal public funds again. Right at the very start of this case I pointed out that Crown spending of public money not appropriated by Parliament is a violation of one of the laws that separates a liberal democracy from a dictatorship. Labour needs to decide which side of that fence they’re on.

Posted by Duncan Bayne : 10/19/2006 11:22:00 AM

Anon: "but would be roundly ignored by the other 99.93% of the population"

Already out of date. So far 0.3% of the 2.3m voters have signed the petition. And almost 2% of voters have viewed Darnton's pledge card auction.

And I see that in Labour's world, anybody who doesn't shout "No!" is deemed to agree with you.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/19/2006 11:35:00 AM

"Graeme - I would argue that National incurred the cost in 2005 and that is when the technically breached the law. So, whilst there may be some cute semantics, they are effectively asking for legislation to right a wrong that has already taken place."

National definitely breached the law in 2005. It wasn't a technical breach, it was an actual big important breach. Because the police were incompetent, they got off scot-free. They could have been fined $100,000 then, but can't now because the six-month time-limit for Broadcasting Act charges has passed.

The law change they seek will not make what they did then legal. In much the same way that yesterday's government-passed law did not make Labour's deliberate breaches of the Electoral Act spending cap legal.

Labour does not need (nor want) retrospective legislation to escape prosecution for their actions in breach of the Electoral Act last year, and National does not need (nor want) retrospective legislation to escape prosecution for their breaches of the Broadcasting Act last year.

They want to pay their bills now, they assert this would be a new breach of the Broadcasting Act, and don't want to compound their breach of the Broadcasting Act committed last year with another one committed this year. They should have been punished last year for what they did, not this year for trying to make it better.

In response to an earlier point you made, the Broadcasters have no legal basis on which to sue National for the unpaid monies, if they could have they would have.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/19/2006 12:31:00 PM

"Helen Clark isn't as bad as Mugabe".

That has to be the lamest defense I've heard of a politician in a very long time.

It would be, if anybody was saying it. They aren't. Try reading the thread again.

Or, let me help you out:

I'm charged with breaching a liquor ban. Somebody says that makes me a drunk driver, who kills. I say that is false, and absurd. How does that constitute a defence against the original charge? It doesn't. Separate issue.

The Mugabe comparison was introduced by Clark's opponents, not her defenders. If you think it's lame, address your concerns to them.


Posted by Anonymous : 10/19/2006 12:55:00 PM

I give up.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/19/2006 03:09:00 PM

I/S, fair enought then - well made points (you've given better voice to them than I might have).

Posted by backin15 : 10/19/2006 04:34:00 PM

From what I can see both sides have played dirty self-interested politics over the election spend issue, and although on the face of it, this legislation is detestable, the whole area of election spending appears to need cleaning up. Public opinion has already swayed parties to pay back what the AG calculated and the PM and the Labour party have taken a beating because of the way they have handled it. Damage done, time to move on to getting some decent tax cuts and other important stuff.

Flogging the 2005 election over the next 12 months in the courts is not going to do parliament or the morale of the country any good. It may give some Libertarian a fix and sell lots of newspapers, but in the long run it will only prove damaging to more people than it benefits, and the only benefit will be to National Party supporters who want to see a premature election.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/19/2006 06:44:00 PM

Kent, you only have to read the comments section on DPF to see premature election is something most right wing bloggers live with every day.

Posted by Sanctuary : 10/19/2006 10:07:00 PM