Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Election funding: the Hollow Men again

The Standard has a real scoop - a transcript of Nicky Hager's evidence before the Justice & Electoral Committee last month, in which he talks about the collusion between the National Party and the Exclusive Brethren documented in his book The Hollow Men and how it affected the 2005 election.

So the idea, which was as proposed by the National Party campaign manager, was that the Exclusive Brethren would say: “Change the Government.”, and the National Party itself would have all possible opportunity to say: “And the way to change the Government is to vote National.” The effect of that, of course, was to add about $1.5 million extra money to the National Party election campaign.
He then goes on:
this is why the bill is needed, otherwise it’s simply too easy for parties with wealthy backers to outspend the others and keep their linkages secret. This also, I believe, is why the National Party is attacking the bill— not because of the mistakes with the drafting which need to be fixed, but because they would rather not have controls on third-party campaigning.
Hagar also points out that this sort of dirty anonymous campaigning is a growing phenomena worldwide, and one we would be wise to take precautions against if we want to ensure that our elections are free, fair, and democratic, rather than being bought and sold by the rich.

There's more there, and it's interesting reading. The full transcript is here [PDF].