Monday, August 02, 2010


Back in 2007, in the wake of an Auditor-General's report which totally overturned the status quo on the use of Parliamentary funding, the then-Labour government passed the Appropriation (Continuation of Interim Meaning of Funding for Parliamentary Purposes) Act 2007 in order to restore that status quo and provide clarity until Parliament decided on new rules. Naturally, National screamed bloody murder. So I'm a little surprised to see that they've just introduced a Parliamentary Service Amendment Bill which effectively makes that definition permanent.

DPF will no doubt be quick to point out that its not exactly the same. The definition of "funding entitlements for parliamentary purposes" now includes services to certain electoral candidates (to cover allowances to sitting MPs during the election period), while the list of exclusions now includes soliciting votes in a referendum as well as in an election. There is now also an explicit ban on election advertisements (in terms of the Electoral Act), though this is redundant given the ban on funding for communications that support candidates or parties. The changes are immaterial; the substance is the same (and rightly so - its a sensible definition).

The upshot: National, which opposed this vigorously in 2007, is now promoting it in 2010 (of course, they did it in 2009 too). On the one hand, this could just be seen as the ordinary hypocrisy of politics. On the other, it exposes how groundless and vile National's 2007 opposition was. Unfortunately, its taken a spell in government for them to see sanity.

(Meanwhile, will the sewer be preaching revolution over this, as they did in 2007? Somehow, I doubt it...)