Friday, February 21, 2014

Labour's unacceptable secrecy

Last year, the Labour Party ran a leadership election. There was big money involved - so much so that the party imposed a spending cap and required that large donations be disclosed. But now they're refusing to make the details public:

The Labour Party is refusing to release details of the donations its three leadership contestants received in the leadership contest last year and can escape the usual disclosure rules for donations the contestants subsequently passed on to the party.

The rules of the contest last September required the contestants to disclose to the party hierarchy any donations of more than $1500.

David Cunliffe, Grant Robertson and Shane Jones were also required to give any unspent donations to the party after the contest.


[Labour Party Secretary Tim Barnett] would not say how much was passed on to the party's coffers but said if any candidates provided more than the disclosable limit of $15,000 for party donations, it would be declared in its return in April. Any such donations would be declared as from the contestant rather than the donors who originally gave the money.

The reason we have disclosure regimes in national politics is so we can know who is buying our politicians. The same principle should apply in party leadership contests. These aren't just an "internal party matter", but something which affects who gets to be our Prime Minister. And we have a fundamental right to know who the candidates for that office owe favours to. otherwise, we are simply exposing ourselves to corrupting and influence-peddling.

Meanwhile, primaries look to be a great way of laundering donations so as to prevent normal transparency. I wonder how many parties will now start running them?