When luck is running against you it is running against you.
John Key yesterday was filmed handing out free sausages from a National branded stall. It appears that the effort has hit a bit of a snarler however and the PR effort has left the party’s reputation wurst for wear.
‘Sausagegate’ began at the Remarkables Town Centre yesterday afternoon as Prime Minister John Key dispensed free sausages about 100m away from two Wakatipu High School pupils selling the same product, trying to raise money for a school trip.
Madi Taylor and Jasmine Sowerby, both 15, stood outside The Warehouse trying to sell one sausage for $3 or two for $5, but business was slow.
That was because the leader of the country – in Queenstown for the Mainland Conference 2014, a gathering of National MPs and candidates from across New Zealand – tried to snag voters by handing out sausages with Clutha-Southland National Party candidate Todd Barclay, cooked for them by Flaming Good Food.
The teenagers told the Otago Daily Times they each had to raise $8200 for World Challenge Nepal in December next year.
The pupils would celebrate their 17th birthdays and Christmas in Nepal, where they would be based for a month, going trekking and volunteering at orphanages.While the concept was not new to New Zealand, it was the first time pupils from Wakatipu High School had joined the programme.
However, their fundraising efforts took a dive when Mr Key and other National Party members, supporters and curious members of the public turned up just after 12.30pm, and the party’s free sausage stand was set up near Mitre10.
Key did make amends by making a donation of $60 but it shows how sometimes the best made plans can run astray.
But what I want to know is if the event constitutes treating? Section 217(2) of the Electoral Act 1993 says:
Every person commits the offence of treating who corruptly, by himself or herself or by any other person on his or her behalf, either before, during, or after an election, directly or indirectly gives or provides, or pays wholly or in part the expense of giving or providing, any food, drink, entertainment, or provision to or for any person—
(a) for the purpose of corruptly influencing that person or any other person to vote or refrain from voting; or
(b) for the purpose of procuring himself or herself to be elected; or
(c) on account of that person or any other person having voted or refrained from voting, or being about to vote or refrain from voting.
There is an exception for a light supper given after an election meeting but I do not see how this could apply.
What should be done? Well nothing actually. I am as interested in formal action being taken about this as I was about action being taken against Helen Clark for signing a painting for charity.
But you can imagine what would happen if it was David Cunliffe and if Slater became aware of this story …