Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Election funding: the EPMU decision

The High Court has released its decision [PDF] on the National Party's judicial review of the Electoral Commission's decision that the EPMU is eligible to be a third party. The result? Crown law's legal advice that the law applied only to "natural persons" was wrong; it includes corporate entities. Whether or not any particular corporate entity such as the EPMU is "involved in the administration of the affairs of a party" is an open question.

The EPMU's application will now go back to the Electoral Commission, which will have to decide if it is involved in the administration of the labour Party. DPF is claiming that they are, on the basis that Andrew Little is on Labour's governing council and the union is an affiliate of Labour whose members have a say in Labour's decision making. But the EPMU is more than Andrew Little, and the idea that mere membership in a political party forbids establishing a third party is clearly at odds with parliamentary intent. So, I expect the Electoral Commission to register the EPMU. And, sadly, I expect DPF to challenge that registration by once again attempting to beat up the EPMU's affiliate membership into something it is not. This is both deeply hypocritical, and deeply stupid. After all, if mere membership of a political party forbids establishing a third party, what does that mean for a party employee?