It isn’t very often that I regret not having a TV aerial. But on the odd occasion the local TV raises its head above the parapet of simple-minded mediocrity. If I want to watch it, then I wait until it shows up online – like yesterday’s The Nation.
While I was looking at Lusk’s revelation on National’s tea-party faction, I found that I’d missed this interesting piece about how party membership is validated last year. Frontpage had put it up on their site in light of Peter Dunne losing his party (lets hope he doesn’t lose track of the taxes eh!). Actual interesting investigative journalism! Such a strange thing to see on NZ TV.
What interested me in this was the lack of accountability for the money that public lavishes on political parties once they become a registered political party. It is extraordinary to me that the definition of who is a paid-up member is so lax. Not only isn’t the veracity checked, but the definition of who is a member is completely up to the party to decide. In Labour’s case this would be affiliate members. From what I have heard, National signs up anyone whose name is on a raffle ticket – even if they didn’t pay for it themselves*.
Really the electoral commission should require accountability to at the very least the level that is taken on referendums. The parties should provide current lists of voters in confidence to the electoral commission. They should sample the list against the electoral roll to at least find out if the people are voters.
But they should go further. A representative sample should be taken to find out if the paid up members are contactable given the information provided by the party and if they can confirm paying for the membership. For instance it wouldn’t be hard to pay the $2 raffle ticket required to become a National party member
But perhaps I shouldn’t worry that much. When you look through the list of registered party logo’s at the elections site (two dead on arrivals are in the front-page image), you realise that that there must be some restraints on the system. I just don’t know what they are…
BTW: the Nation’s piece on Lusk et al was pretty tame. I’m sure that the fallout from the attempt to use tea-party political tactics will continue to reverberate.
* In my repitition statements above I am merely following the example of one of our leading politicians here. Judith Collins MP, our current Minister of Justice apparently thinks that it is ok to agree with and participate in unfounded gossip. Always interesting to see a lawyer and politician being less concerned about evidence than being a stupid gossip. Mind you I’ve heard that Collins wasn’t exactly the brightest spark as a lawyer. It is this type of thing that makes our justice system the mess that we have today – just look at the colossal waste of the Operation 8 raids coming from the delusions of a few paranoid cops in Otahuhu.