Friday, April 04, 2008

Freedom of Speech 1; DPF nil

A couple of months ago, the EPMU sought listing as a third party under the Electoral Finance Act, in order to cover themselves in the new electoral environment. In a crude attempt to silence them, National Party blogger DPF (who is himself listed as a third party) objected. The Electoral Commission has now considered DPF's objection, and rejected it. The core question was whether the EFA's ban on "a person involved in the administration of the affairs of a party" also being a third party applied to legal persons such as a union or body corporate. According to Crown Law, it doesn't - it applies only to actual people. Which means that the EPMU will be free to speak up for worker's rights this election, just as it has in the past.

DPF is now kicking up a stink about how this allows parallel campaigning, and it could conceivably (OTOH I think the public would react with due outrage to his proposals). But look at the alternative. Ultimately, DPF's objections rested on the idea that as the EPMU was an affiliate of Labour and could vote in party decision-making, it was therefore involved in the administration of the party's affairs. On that standard, the same applies to every single member - a proposition clearly at odds with Parliamentary intent.

But then, this complaint wasn't really about clarifying Parliamentary intent. It was about making noise, and then making more noise no matter which way it went. Either the Electoral Commission would be "opening the door to parallel campaigning", or it would be "silencing ordinary New Zealanders". It's just another example of the bad faith the National Party and its proxies have had on this whole issue.

Meanwhile, we're left with the image of a self-proclaimed free speech campaigner trying to legally silence someone from expressing their political views. but I forget - DPF and his ilk aren't interested in free speech for all. They're interested in free speech only for the rich.