Written By: - Date published: 5:36 pm, January 24th, 2008 - 96 comments
Categories: MMP, same old national - Tags: electoral law, hollow men, MMP, national, peter shirtcliffe, rod donald, same old national
After Brash and the extreme right were exposed in The Hollow Men the Nats changed their leader hoping for a fresh start.
What’s becoming apparent is that National’s shady backers haven’t changed. The policy and the cash are coming from the same people they always have – people like Peter Shirtcliffe who’s evidently now helping to finance National Party activists David Farrar and Cameron Slater in their campaign against the Electoral Finance Act.
Shirtcliffe’s been around a while. In 1993 he launched the “Campaign for Better Government” – a right-wing business lobby group opposing the introduction of MMP.
Rod Donald had this to say about Shirtcliffe and his aggressive campaign:
On ANZAC day 1993 a full page advertisement appeared in the major Sunday paper attacking MMP. Inserted by Peter Shirtcliffe, chairman of Telecom, New Zealand’s largest company, it marked the beginning of a David and Goliath battle that went to the wire… he announced the formation of his Campaign for Better Government (CBG), the opening of an office and the appointment of paid staff.
CBG’s campaign strategy eclipsed the [Electoral Reform Coalition’s]. They conducted market research, used direct mail and paid for radio talkback programmes. A confidential report from their market research company somehow made it on to the front page of a weekly business paper. It was a blueprint for an anti-MMP advertising campaign targeting “the least educated and most gullible” sectors of the electorate by providing “easily digestible, alarming material” warning electors of the consequences of MMP [my emphasis].
In the clip below you can see the kind of material that Shirtcliffe and his mates favoured – complete with crying babies, grainy black and white and staticy sound effects.
With Shirtcliffe back in on the act and the Nats dreaming of governing alone you have to wonder how long it’ll be before the next assault on MMP.