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Bad politics

Written By: - Date published: 8:23 am, April 13th, 2008 - 91 comments
Categories: dpf, election funding, same old national, workers' rights - Tags: , , ,

National’s current attempt to stop the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union from registering as a third party pretty much proves what we all knew. They have no interest in democracy.

Rather than accept the decision of the Electoral Commission and move on they’ve decided to appeal the decision and apply for an injunction to stop the EPMU from registering until a decision is made – something that could take several months and is designed to muzzle the fifty-thousand ordinary New Zealand workers the union represents.

Interestingly David Farrar has decided to out himself as the National party operative he is by providing evidence for National’s application. The irony is of course that David’s front-group, the Free Speech Coalition, registered as a third party unchallenged despite being funded by the same group of hollow men as the National party and David having considerable ties to the Nats himself. And fair enough, the EFA was never about stopping people campaigning but about making sure they had to do so transparently.

In my opinion National have fallen for their own spin and made a bad call. Bill’s attempts to scaremonger using the dreaded word “union” over the last couple of weeks have fallen on deaf ears. And there’s a reason for that: people are not scared of unions because they are voluntary and democratic organisations that do things like fight for 800 cleaners to get the deal they need to feed their families. Unfortunately for National, Bill still thinks people believe unions are full of smoky back-rooms and mobster types. That’s a bad call and shows how out of touch with New Zealand the National Party are.

This expensive litigation tells a story and that story is one of a political party that is supported by some of New Zealand’s wealthiest people demonstrating they are willing to spend a fortune in the courts to deny working New Zealanders a voice. In a year when National needs the backing of those working people to win the election that’s just bad politics.

As an aside I’d like to point out I made the call early this year that National would spend its huge war-chest on litigation in order to get around the EFA spending cap. I really thought they’d do it smarter than this.

91 comments on “Bad politics ”

  1. ghostwhowalks 1

    Will there be the same interest in the court case over nationals ‘undemocratic’ candidate selection process in Rakaia ?

    The Aussie media ( only in their home market it seems) are usually all over labour when it comes to assorted goings on in pre selection of official candidates.
    The Rakaia selection has it all! Yet do we see David Carter persued through parliaments corridors till he confesses. Does the Herald run full page headlines over the attck on democracy

  2. mike 2

    This will see the union shed a few more members. I would be pissed off if my $6 bucks a week was going towards fighting a court case brought about by Labours shambolic EFA.

  3. randal 3


  4. Anita 4

    It doesn’t seem like bad politics to me.

    If the Nats really want to test the EFA they’re much better to do so by challenging the unions then doing whatever the unions have proven if acceptable. No swing voter is going to care that they’re having a go at the unions. Plus, if they win they win, and if they lose they win as they can then set-up … I mean watch their allies set-up similar 3rd parties.

    For the Nats to have to defend an ally (or even stand aongside an ally defeding itself) is a much worse look with no chance of a big win, and a bad look if they were to lose.


  5. Pascal's bookie 5

    Except Anita, the national party has been going on and on about the EFA is labour trying to muzzle free speech. Here they are appealing a decision that went the other way.

    If they were standing along side someone who was being told to shut up, it would fit their narrative. This one muddies that story line, because the have to sell the far more convoluted storyline that “We support free speech and that is why we are trying to get the Union to shut up, which is what the EFA really requires even though the ruling went the other way, which is why we are appealing it”.

    People who aren’t paying that level of attention will just see the Nats trying to get the EPMU to shut up. They see the Nat’s trying to limit free speech, and use the courts to get at their opponents. This goes 180 degrees against the narrative they have been selling. Far better to wait and see if any right wingers get in trouble, and then say “see we told you this was all about labour trying to muzzle it’s opponents”.

  6. Tane 6

    The vexatious legal challenge is bad enough, but it’s the request for an injunction that I find even more hypocritical. Silencing union members through an injunction does nothing to clarify the law – it has everything to do with National muzzling its opponents.

  7. IrishBill 7

    Anita, the issue is that the law has been tested and two high court judges have given the EPMU the green light to become a third party so the story is:

    1. National claims the EFA will stifle democracy by stopping the EPMU from becoming a third party.

    2. The decision is made – the EFA doesn’t stop the EPMU becoming a third party.

    3. National challenges decision and applies for an injunction to stop EPMU being third-party.

    It’s bad politics because National can no longer argue they are attacking the EFA. They are now clearly attacking working people.

  8. They are now clearly attacking working people.

    Using a tool crafted for them by Labour. For all that I hope National’s case fails, there’s a very rich irony in watching them using this law. Labour created it to try and prevent critics with money from publicising that criticism, and now here it is being used against Labour. Somehow I find my sympathy for the union rather diluted by this knowledge – unfair, but true.

  9. IrishBill 9

    Milt, the EFA was never about stopping critics with money publicising that criticism it was about making sure people knew where that money was coming from. Unions have always been upfront about who they are and who they represent in their election campaigning.

  10. Daveo 10

    I fear the media will either ignore this issue or give it the National party spin. National seems to get a free ride from the media on the EFA regardless of what they’re saying or doing.

  11. James Kearney 11

    if they lose they win as they can then set-up I mean watch their allies set-up similar 3rd parties.

    There’s nothing stopping National allies like Sensible Sentencing, Family First, the Brethren, John Boscawen, the Free Speech Coalition or the Business Roundtable from setting up as third parties and supporting National. Two of them already have.

    The EFA was never designed to stop partisan third party campaigns- it was designed to provide transparency on who each party is and where their funding is coming from, and to limit the amount any one group can spend.

    English lost the original challenge run by his proxy David Farrar so now he’s trying to misrepresent the intentions of the act and silence his opponents.

  12. r0b 12

    OK, pop quiz. Before you use Google to check – which NZ political commentator (while wrong about the interpretation of the law) wrote the following, strongly in favour of the EPMU’s right to free speech?:

    The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union is an important institution in our society. … it is the largest private sector union in New Zealand, with more than 45,000 members, and focussed on all the political machinations in Wellington. …

    In any free society, a trade union advocating politically would be uncontroversial. The whole collapse of the Soviet empire began in 1980 over whether or not Lech Walesa’s Solidarity union should be able to be politically independent. …

    The law needs to return to parliament to be amended to make clear that the New Zealand trade union movement is allowed to be properly involved in our elections. Unlike the Labour Party, we shouldn’t be afraid we might be corrupted if the EPMU or anyone else drops pamphlets in our letterboxes.

    I hope that this same commentator will now come out just as vigourously opposed to National’s attempt to stifle the free speech of more than 45,000 working Kiwis.

    What irony it is. After all their fuss about the sanctity of free speech last year – who are the ones shutting it down? National are silencing journalists, and National are silencing working New Zealanders. Shame.

  13. hopefully this backfires on national and results in a huge increase in union membership when they see how national thinks of workers rights

  14. Monty 14

    Of Course National may well win (I hope they do) then will you lefties retract what you have said and say this is a bad law? Do not forget that tere will be a delicious irony if the EPMU / Labour lose. After all this is Labour’s legislation and National Voted against it..

  15. dave 15

    So your post means that you think Labour has no interest in democracy either, particularly as it has supported Nationals court action in fixing up its law.

    Anyway wouldnt it have been better for Labour to write law that was clear? Of course! So Irish Bill, dont be too upset at National going to the courts, you should be annoyed that Labour didn’t write clear law.

    Thats the real bad politics of it all.

    IrishBill says: The EC said the EFA didn’t stop the EPMU from putting its members’ interests forward. National is now saying it should. That’s double-speak and I’m sure they’ll pay for it.

  16. r0b 16

    So your post means that you think Labour has no interest in democracy either, particularly as it has supported Nationals court action in fixing up its law.

    Ahh Dave, I think you are a wee bit confused there. Labour has said that it does not oppose National’s legal proceedings to clarify some aspects of the law. But it does not support Nationals appeal of the decision that the EPMU can register as a third party (where National is brazenly hypocritical in its attempts to silence working Kiwis).

  17. dave 17

    I didnt say which part of National’s court action it supports, did I, so no, I’m not really confused at all. I`m certainly not cojfised wehn I say that it would have been better for Labour to write law that was clear in the first place.

  18. r0b 18

    OK Dave, you weren’t confused. So I guess your first sentence “So your post means that you think Labour has no interest in democracy either, particularly as it has supported Nationals court action in fixing up its law” makes no sense at all for entirely different reasons.

    It would have been better for Labour to write law that was clear in the first place

    They didn’t write a perfect law to be sure. But if they had, vested interests would still be challenging it, and we would still be having this conversation. Plus ca change.

  19. dave 19

    No youre wrong. If law is clear there is no need to go to court to clarify it. I thought that was pretty elementary to understand…

  20. r0b 20

    The bit that is giving me problems is “So your post means that you think Labour has no interest in democracy either” . Huh?

    National is the party with no interest in democracy, they are the ones trying to silence 45,000 working Kiwis. I thought that was pretty elementary to understand

  21. Milt, the EFA was never about stopping critics with money publicising that criticism it was about making sure people knew where that money was coming from.

    That was the stated intent, sure. Unfortunately, neither bill nor act look like that stated intent. They look more like an attempt to load the funding dice in favour of the incumbent. Labour deserve their arses kicked for that alone. Not to mention: the clowns that came up with this unsubtle scam might usefully have stopped to think that Labour won’t always be the incumbent – in three years time it might be the Nats strangling Labour’s funding while taking full advantage of publishing “policy information” (snigger) at taxpayers’ expense.

  22. dave 22

    where National is brazenly hypocritical in its attempts to silence working Kiwis
    Working kiwis are not silenced by National. Hahahaha. Practically any group of Kiwis can register as a Third Party. Do tell how “National is hypocritical in its attempts to silence working kiwis”.

  23. r0b 23

    in three years time it might be the Nats strangling Labour’s funding

    Is it a full moon or something? Now P.M is making no sense. How does the EFA strangle any party’s funding?

    publishing “policy information’ (snigger)

    Grow up. People need to be told about policies that affect them and resources that they are entitled to use. What use would KiwiSaver or Working for Families be if no one knew about them? Should we do away with expensive health campaigns like those addressing the issues of drink driving and domestic violence? Should we maybe, keep elections secret, so no one gets to vote? Public information campaigns are a vital part of what government departments do, and your “snigger” is the snigger of a foolish schoolboy.

  24. r0b 24

    Dave, I notice that you haven’t answered the question. When you wrote “So your post means that you think Labour has no interest in democracy either’ what were you talking about? Because I think you were entirely confused about the different legal processes going on.

    Do tell how “National is hypocritical in its attempts to silence working kiwis’.

    And we come full circle. Go back to the top of the thread and read the initial post. Read IrishBill’s comment of 2:35pm. It couldn’t be laid out much more clearly.

  25. dave 25

    Yes it could.. In terms my democracy comment I was merely stating that I think that Irish Bill thinks by implication that Labour has no interest in democracy. Of course I may be wrong, bur its not up to you to decide that, its up to IB.I did have another comment that somehow got wiped (nmust have been the captcha) It said that any subgroup of the 25000 working kiwis can register as a third party, so how is National silenceing working kiwis? Do tell, given that Ive answered your question.

    IrishBill says: oh dear Dave, you’ve tried to misrepresent my argument. That’s what people do when they are desperate and the right is obviously desperate to silence criticism on the issue of work rights don’t embarrass yourself by trying to claim black is white on this issue. You and other people of you unfortunate political ilk have nothing but disregard for working people. Why are you afraid to own that truth?

  26. Tane 26

    Dave, I’m genuinely having real trouble understanding your argument. Could you lay it out a bit more clearly?

  27. dave 27

    what part are you having difficulty with?

  28. Tane 28

    All of it.

    [captcha: Mr repititious]

  29. dave 29

    OK I`ll start with this bit, and lay it out a bit more clearly for you – and I`ll be real basic for you, given that you have difficulty in understanding what most people can comprehend

    Wouldnt it have been better for Labour to write law that was clear? Of course! So Irish Bill, dont be too upset at National going to the courts, you should be annoyed that Labour didn’t write clear law.

    Thats the real bad politics of it all.

    1. It is always good for government to write law that is clear and easy to understand. Then its citizens can know what to follow and what is outlawed, and authorities can correctly interpret the law. The EFA is unclear. If you don’t understand or agree with that, Tane, there is something wrong with you.

    2. If Labour had written clear law with regards to the EFA, people would be able to understand the law and its meaning. Therefore they would know what is within the law and what isnt. Therefore there would be no need to go to court to clarify this law. Given that the is misunderstanding, and Labour ministers have given confliciting opinions about the same points of law, there is need to seek clarification on that law. To do that the judiciary is the place to go to, so thats what National is doing, in part supported by Labour.

    Is that clear enough for you?

  30. Tane 30

    Dave, I’ll agree the EFA was poorly drafted in parts, but it’s pretty clear from the Electoral Commission’s ruling that the EPMU and other affiliated unions can register as third parties, just as the law intended.

    National should be overjoyed if they really care about free speech and democracy. But they don’t.

    Tell me, why else would National launch a judicial review to have the EPMU muzzled, and how does their application for an interim injuction help to clarify the law?

  31. r0b 31

    Dave, I’ve always been clear on that part of your argument.

    The bit that still puzzles me is: “So your post means that you think Labour has no interest in democracy either’ . What part of IrishBill’s post can be interpreted as meaning that Labour has no interest in democracy? And – “either”?

  32. dave 32

    Its clear that the Electoral Commission said that the EPMU can register as third parties. (Crown Law had a bigger role to play in that decision). But its not as clear that it was how the law intended, which is more the point. National is not muzzling the EPMU, it is clarifying the law. If it wanted to muzzle the EPMU and prevent it from registering as a Third Party it would have put up an amendment at the time to do so and would have failed. The fact that the EPMU is caught up in it is unfortunate. Theres a limit to the time you can waste in parliament to fix up crap law and in the end if the Government refuses to pass decent law, despite its 150 amendments after a select committee, amnd failing to pass decent amendments from Natinal at the time, because of political rather than legal reasons, then its off to court to get it clarified.

    We dont need to know what the law says, we need to know what it means.

  33. Tane 33

    Dave, let’s lay it out simply:

    1) Parliament always intended for unions, affiliated or otherwise, to be able to register as third parties.

    2) National tried to argue the EFA forbids the EPMU from becoming a third party.

    3) The Electoral Commission has found the wording of the Act does not prevent the EPMU from becoming a third party.

    So what exactly needs clarifying here? And how on earth does National’s application for an injunction to silence the EPMU until after the court case help to clarify the issue?

    And this is just stupid:

    If it wanted to muzzle the EPMU and prevent it from registering as a Third Party it would have put up an amendment at the time to do so and would have failed.

    That course of action would have been far too blatant, and besides I don’t think National planned that far ahead. This is an act of political opportunism, and any New Zealander who cares free speech and democracy will oppose it.

  34. dave 34

    >What part of Irish Bill’s post can be interpreted as meaning that Labour has no interest in democracy
    The same part that can be interpreted as meaning that National has no interest in democracy.

    And Tane, I think an injunction is a sensible decision from a legal perspective as if the EPMU is not allowed to register as a Third Party, it shouldn’t now. The flipside argument is that if it is, it should be – but because the law is so unclear, nobody really knows whether they should or shouldnt, therefore until the law is clarified we don’t know whether teh EC was correct.

    All this is the fault of Labour, not Parliament, and certainly not the EPMU. Your conplaint should not be the legal process that National has undetaken, but the lack of clarity of the law, but you appear to be too biased to communicate that view for fear that it could be sayihng something less than positive about Labour.

  35. r0b 35

    The same part that can be interpreted as meaning that National has no interest in democracy.

    Nope, Ok, I give up. National are the ones trying to silence the EPMU. National are the ones who have shredded even the pretence of “clarifying the law” by taking out injunctions. National are the ones with no interest in democracy. No part of IB’s post can be interpreted as meaning that Labour condones these things unless you are terminally confused (and then too small to admit it).

    Goodnight, Dave.

  36. Wayne 36

    It hasn’t gone unnoticed that National’s highly principled attempt to clarify the law also happens to silence one of their biggest opponents.

    Did they really think we were too stupid to notice?

  37. Dean 37

    “National are the ones with no interest in democracy.”

    Oh, for goodness sakes.

    You people really do draw a long bow, don’t you? Seriously, it’s like something out of a bad, bad movie.

    “National should be overjoyed if they really care about free speech and democracy. But they don’t.”

    You should be overjoyed that the Exclusive Brethren voiced their opinion at the last election. But! Shock horror! You’re not.

    Why? Because you’re terribly, horribly biased. Just like the National party. In fact, you people seem to yearn to take every opportunity you can find to denegrate the “chinless scarf wearers” in any way you can.

    Really, it’s kind of sickening to see these kinds of double standards (no, that’s not supposed to be a pun) from people who want to trumpet the cause of “democracy”. And all in response to a post from Irish “Uncle Tom” Bill… well. I think that about takes the proverbial cake.

    IrishBill says: The problem with the EB is they wanted to campaign without people knowing they were campaigning. The EFB stopped that. At no time have the unions disowned their campaigns. New Zealanders have the right to know who is trying to influence their decision to vote. That’s transparent democracy.

    On the issue of your attempt to smear me: try it again and I will ban you for a month.

  38. Dave – you are the dumbest fuck I have ever seen on these blogs bar D4J. You may not have noticed this but no other rightie is backing you ‘cos this is a lost cause. National have given up all pretense of caring for democracy or for working people with this attack and it’s so clear no-one but a sad little house-slave like yourself is willing to try to deny it. Get a life you fool and stop sucking up to the shitbags that are trying to fuck ordinary kiwis like me. You make me sick you fuckin quisling.

    [lprent: ‘sod you can say exactly the same thing without the language. I’d suggest strongly that you tone it down. How many bans have the moderators given you recently? It is starting to attract my attention. You should also notice that dave has managed his end of the debate without doing anything to attract my attention in this mornings scan.]

  39. dave 39

    piss off Porton, you sick child and stop hassling and smearing me with your abusive language or perhaps the nice people at the Standard will ban you for good, you loser. Why do you think I refuse to engage with jerkoffs like you?

  40. Dean 40

    “On the issue of your attempt to smear me: try it again and I will ban you for a month.”

    Go ahead and permaban me, Irish. I’m sure your hypocrisy will continue unashamedly.

  41. Grow up. People need to be told about policies that affect them and resources that they are entitled to use.

    I look forward to seeing the same “grown-up” attitude displayed when a National govt is helpfully telling us about its policies with the taxpayer-funded message “You’re better off with National,” exempt from being counted against its election spend, while Labour struggles with having its party secretary financially at risk from every non-authorised message that anyone in the party gives anyone in the electorate. Tell you what though – I’ll cheerfully stop writing “snigger” after “policy information” if Labour will stop using policy information as free election advertising.

  42. Occasional Observer 42

    The Electoral Commission–staff of two, including the Communications Manager, neither of whom are lawyers–is not the definitive authority on electoral law. They merely offer advice. Decisions of the EC are not binding. This isn’t like going to the Inland Revenue Commissioner and asking for a ruling on tax law.

    The EC’s determination was based on Crown Law advice, which again is not infallible. It’s not unreasonable to go and test it in Court, and get a binding decision on third party applications. Crown Law stated that there were no issues with the EFB and the Bill of Rights Act, despite the Human Rights Commission taking the unprecedented position of calling on a Government bill to be scrapped, on the basis that it breached Bill of Rights and other core human rights principles.

    If you allow the EC’s determination to stand, then you are opening up the door for sham third parties to set themselves up to avoid spending caps. Act on Campus could register as a third party, and say they are merely affiliated to the Act Party, just as the EPMU is merely affiliated to the Labour Party. The SuperBlues could apply to be a third party, and say they are merely affiliated to the National Party. The WildGreens could register separately.

  43. Occasional Observer 43

    That’s a good point, PM.

    We learned from the Labour congress this weekend that Labour Party activists are being asked to distribute pamphlets from government departments, explaining Labour’s key policies, with propaganda on how Labour supports those policies and National opposes them. What a coincidence that the promotional material won’t count in Labour’s spending cap.

  44. Sorry Lynn – I’ll tone it down.

  45. gobsmacked 45

    Some idiot in the Labour Party needs a right bollocking this morning. I’m sick of the gun-aimed-at-foot stupidity around this issue.

    This may be cynical (hell, it IS cynical, I admit it) but in politics you follow the basic maxim: “If you don’t want it on the front page, don’t write it down”.

    Get your act together, people. National should be toast, but you’re too busy jamming your own fingers in the toaster.

    Labour will win on the issues that New Zealanders care about (see Cullen’s superb speech yesterday, listing dozens of achievements), or lose on the stupid distractions, the gifts they generously give the opposition (which includes the Herald).

    I recommend a line from that fine Australian film ‘The Dish’, where the PM talks to the aspiring candidate:

    “We have a saying in the party – don’t fuck up … (pause) … that’s it”.

  46. higherstandard 46


    I agree the election will be won on issues NZ’s care about one of which is an inherent dislike of what on the face of it appears to be an abuse of taxpayer money for political purposes.

  47. Billy 47

    Thank God we have the Labour Party protecting openness and transparency in the democratic process


  48. IrishBill 48

    Yes Billy, very good off-topic link. But how do you feel about National trying to stop the EPMU from representing it’s members’ interests?

  49. Billy 49

    So on a thread about alleged abuse of electoral legislation, I can’t discuss its abuse by anyone other than those you want to talk about?

    You don’t want a blog, IB, you want a megaphone.

  50. Matthew Pilott 50

    Psycho Milt – I’d love the idea of National using government departments to advertise their policies. Can you imagine it?

    “You’re better off with National – why the 90-day bill will work for you, and why it’s easier to get a job because you can now be fired for no reason.”

    I’d do another, but National only have one policy. Oh wait:

    “You’re better off with National – why our boot camps will work despite best practice and international research showing involuntary boot camps are virtually useless.”

    So yeah, not likely there, and therein lies the rub for National, don’t you think?

  51. dave 51

    National is not stopping the EPMU from representing its members interests. Not all EPMU members are interested in breaking the law and campaigning to elect a Labour Government in work time using government department pamphlets – that were printed for other purposes – to do so.

  52. IrishBill 52

    No Billy, I want to know your view on National’s attempted injunction. As I understand it the advice to provide WWF materials to voters was brought up in an open meeting in front of media. I can’t see how that fits with the Herald’s secret agenda story.

  53. Occasional Observer 53


    Haven’t various right-wing organisations offered the your employer the right to use their authorisation on electoral spending?

    The Libertarianz aren’t going to spend all their cap. They believe in free speech, which is why they were the largest funders behind the Free Speech Coalition. Ask them for their authorisation to campaign.

  54. r0b 54

    I look forward to seeing the same “grown-up’ attitude displayed when a National govt is helpfully telling us about its policies with the taxpayer-funded message “You’re better off with National,’

    I think you may be confusing several different issues in that mess P.M. If you can show may an example of a government department (as opposed to the Labour Party) advertising “better off with Labour” then I’d be very interested to take a look. Otherwise, I’m not sure what relevance this has to the topic of government department advertising?

  55. IrishBill 55

    OO, I’m sorry but I don’t understand what you are talking about. Could you explain your comment more clearly?

  56. Billy 56

    Billy: So on a thread about alleged abuse of electoral legislation, I can’t discuss its abuse by anyone other than those you want to talk about?

    IB: No Billy…

    Full marks for honesty, IB.

    Here is what I think: Labour decided to make electoral law it’s plaything. If further evidence was needed, we now have them detailing a strategy (secret or not) to use the advantages of encumbancy in a quite cynical way. Add to this the Australian experience of the unions spending $10m to back Labor, and National have every right to think that Labour have used this law as nothing more thatn election tactic.

    The injunction is a natural consequence of Labour’s politicising electoral law.

    Labour drafted the law. It included the prohibition on those involved in running a political party from registering as a third party. So add ineptitude to their other shortcomings.

    And as for: “deny[ing] working New Zealanders a voice”, I thought this law didn’t curtail free speech, just the use of big money to do so. Or do we only run that line when it suits us?

  57. Billy 57

    “it’s plaything”

    Bugger. Misplaced apostrophe.

  58. IrishBill 58

    I won’t tell ‘Sod about the apostrophe.

    Ok Billy, Firstly full marks for decontextualising my words.

    Secondly, your points about the Aussie Unions’ election campaign and Labour writing self-serving law directly contradict each other. Surely if Labour wanted to write a law to serve itself it would not have allowed the unions to be capped to $120,000? (which, incidentally is much more that is spent on any union campaign I have heard of).

    Thirdly, the law was not about stopping money being spent but about capping how much could be spent and making sure who was spending it was not in doubt.

    And finally, National has tried to claim it is in favour of the EPMU campaigning but is injuncting it in order to stop it doing so. That’s a pretty big disconnect. I have no problem with National trying to muzzle workers. It’s pretty much what I expect of them. What I do have issues with is their attempts to claim they are the friends of working people while they are doing it. I also think it is bad politics because they need the votes of working people to win the election (and remember 370,000 of those working people are union members).

  59. insider 59


    If you want some catchy policy publicity why not these ones?

    your money is better off with Labour, as we know how to spend it much better than you do

    You’re better off with Labour if you like high itnerest rates, low house affordability, low productivity and lower wages.

    let’s not get too silly

  60. Steve Pierson 60

    insider. productivity is up, wages are up, and interest rates have been lower under Labour than National (I have a post on that for later in the day)

  61. r0b 61

    Billy: I thought this law didn’t curtail free speech, just the use of big money to do so. Or do we only run that line when it suits us?

    The law doesn’t curtail the EPMU’s free speech, as the Electoral Commission just ruled, based on an absolutely straight forward reading of the Act.

    None the less National is doing its best to challenge the law and try and twist it into a shape that could be used to curtail free speech. And adding legal injunctions to the mix, that have no other purpose at all.

    And you’re still here trying to blame the law? Pathetic. National are the ones trying to twist the law to silence 45,000 working New Zealanders.

  62. Occasional Observer 62


    Do you think the WildGreens should be able to register as a third party and campaign in parallel to the Greens? Do you think that Act on Campus should be allowed to do so, on ten different campuses, thus boosting the amount of money that Act can spend by $1.2 million?

    Because that’s what the law, as interpreted by the Electoral Commission, is saying by allowing an organisation affiliated to the Labour Party, such as the EPMU, to do.

    This makes a total farce of the government’s stated intention to get rid of parallel campaigning. It makes a farce of spending limits by political parties if two people heavily involved with a political party can set up a third party and increase their spending cap accordingly.

    I note that you seem to be cranky that National is seeking a declaration on this from the Court. I haven’t heard you say anything about National getting clarity from the Court on the definition of parliamentary purposes in a separate action–although because that bit of litigation is being encouraged by the Labour Party, it defeats your claim that National’s using its war-chest to tie up opponents in litigation.

    Nice seeing you all at Chow the other night.

  63. IrishBill 63

    OO, the EFA doesn’t allow Act on campus or branches of the labour party or any wholly subsidiary part of a political party to register as a third party. You seem to have misinterpreted the interpretation by the electoral commission. In exactly the same way Bill English and DPF have misinterpreted them.

    Your second point relies on the false information in your first for it’s validity and so is also false.

    And your point about me being cranky? Well I have to say that when I heard National was doing this I was stoked. I imagine the EPMU will take this opportunity to point out exactly what National think of Kiwi workers. Like I said bad politics.

    I’ve eaten at chow once in my life and it was over a year ago. If you did see me there last night I would be astounded. Tell me, are you trying to imply you are stalking me or was that a misguided attempt at friendliness?

  64. dave 64


    why arent you as concerned about the lack of clarity of this law to at least the same extent as your concern of National’s court action?

  65. Ari 65

    The EFA was never intended to get rid of paralell campaigning. Merely to make it accountable, and to assign it its own spending limits.

    The law is also pretty clear that groups like Act on Campus or Rainbow Labour or so on are not eligible third parties. I cannot see the Electoral Commission taking any such application seriously.

    The EPMU is very, very different to a party organisation. Denying them the chance to register would be like denying the Business Roundtable because of its ties to National, or denying Greenpeace because of its shared principles with the Green Party.

  66. dave 66

    .. except that the BRT and Greenpeace members are not given automatic membership opf a political pary and their officials dont have a governing role in any political party, nor do these organisations campaign for a poltical party, nor are they taxpayer funded.

    Ari quit while you`re behind…or chatch up

  67. Tane 67


    a) Affiliated union members are not automatically members of the Labour Party. They have voting rights in the party though due to their affiliation, if they choose to use them.

    b) The role of affiliates vice-president is elected by the affiliates and represents in an individual capacity the interests of all affiliates on the NZ Council, not the VP’s particular union.

    c) Unions are not taxpayer funded.

    d) ‘chatch up’???

  68. dave 68

    every EPMU member is automatically a Labour Party member should they wish to take it up – entitlement is automatic – you join the EPMU and you join Labour effectively. Okay taxpayer funded was a bitOTT- but teh PSA – and any other union whose mambers are primarily public servants – is government funded given that all members are public servants whose salaries – and union fees – are paid for by the state.

  69. hmm 69

    Irish Bill said:

    “OO, the EFA doesn’t allow Act on campus or branches of the labour party or any wholly subsidiary part of a political party to register as a third party. You seem to have misinterpreted the interpretation by the electoral commission. In exactly the same way Bill English and DPF have misinterpreted them.”

    Where does the EFA say that wholly subidiary parts are not allowed. All the EFA says in section 13 is that parties are ineligible to register. Parties are defined as those parties registered under Part 4 of the Electoral Act 1993. The New Zealand Labour Party is registered – therefore cannot register.

    Young Labour is not registered as a party under the Electoral Act. It is itself an unincorporated body which I imagine has its own rules and or constitution. It is therefore not a party registered under the Electoral Act AND because it is an unincorporated body it is not a natural person which means according to the EC’s determination that only natural persons can be ineligible because of involvement in the party that Young Labour would have to be registered as a third party.

  70. Tane 70

    Dave, grasping at straws.

  71. …is government funded given that all members are public servants whose salaries – and union fees – are paid for by the state.

    So, if you and a bunch of other people employed by private enterprise organisations form a club, that club is “funded by private business interests” – because that’s who’s paying all your salaries? I don’t think so. What you do with your salary is your business, not your employer’s.

  72. Matthew Pilott 72

    Dave – the PSA is state funded is it?

    If five public servants who were union members went to the pub would you say that their drinking session was state funded?

    What if someone worked for the PSA, was a union member and then used their income to pay for New Zealand citizenship!!! That would be out and out vote buying wouldn’t it!?!

  73. Billy 73

    r0b: None the less National is doing its best to challenge the law and try and twist it into a shape that could be used to curtail free speech.

    My point was, on the Labour Party’s previous argument, if this happened, the people’s free speech wouldn’t be curtailed, just the money they used to buy that free speech. Only you guys seem to abandon that as a defensible position when the free speech being curtailed is that which argues your position.

  74. r0b 74

    Billy – I was phrasing the debate in the same language that the Right has been using on this issue. Language is a two edged sword, don’t you think?

    If we are agreed that the fevered language and framing of the Right on the EFA as a “free speech” issue is inappropriate, then I will happily rephrase my comment more precisely. Are we agreed?

  75. dave 75

    If five public servants who were union members went to the pub would you say that their drinking session was state funded?

    GIven that Ive been a public servant and a PSA member, yeah, it would be state funded, particularly if the bar tab was paid for by the employer, as it often is.

  76. Billy 76

    Either we’re at cross purposes r0b, or I am really dumb. What are you on about, girl?

    At the great risk of labouring my point, I am saying that Labour’s argument has been that no-one’s free speech is curtailed by placing restrictions on how much money they can spend broadcasting that speech. If that is true, the EPMU’s speech is not being restricted. If it’s not true, you have to admit that free speech is being restricted by the Act (albeit, you might well say, for a greater good).

  77. So Dave – it’s my taxes that pay your wages. The thought of you spending your time posting right-wing filth on my dime is almost enough to make me vote tory just to see your lazy stupid arse get downsized.

    Billy – well done. You’ve picked up on a small rhetorical paradox. Now while you’re on a roll how about telling me whether you think people should be able to spend more than $120k to influence your vote and whether they should be able to do so in a way that means you will never know who they are or what their interest in doing so is?

  78. Billy 78

    ‘sod, are you just going to leave that “I am really dumb” alone?

  79. dave 79

    Robinsod, you child, hahahahahahahaha, you really are a loser, the best that you an hope for is to die in your sleep..

    [lprent: dave: I didn’t give you a license to go childish either. You were doing quite well without this comment.]

  80. Billy 80

    I am glad I picked up on the paradox, because, reading r0b, I thought I was missng soemthing.

    The problem is that, if you restrict everyone else to $120k and then instruct your MPs on how to get the most out of the use of taxpayers’ money you are kind of leaving yourself open to the charge that you are manipulating electoral law to your best advantage.

    For more, see what the below member of the rabid member of the kiwiblog right has to say:


  81. Dave – I’ll outlive you no worries. Especially if you continue to refuse to take your pills.

    Billy – yes, yes, yes you’ve shown you can use irony now why not show you can answer my question without misdirecting.

  82. Billy 82

    The problem is not my answer. It is that you have asked the wrong question.

    The question should be about the fairness of the electoral system. It is invalid to pick out the parts of that system which suit your argument, and scream “misdirect” every time someone points out you’re missing something.

    If I am just not allowed to factor in the $47m a year that the government spends telling its story (and the fact that the government has instructed its MPs on how to use this to the best advantage of the Labour Party), then your question is unworthy of an answer. It will prove what you set out to prove, but only because it was only looking at a corner of the problem.

  83. Whatever, Billy. I should learn not to expect a straight answer from you.

  84. Billy 84

    OK. But we agree I win, right?

  85. Oh good lord. If it makes you happy then yes Billy you win. You are dead right it is indeed a good thing that National are stopping unions from campaigning. OK???

  86. Billy 86

    Well, at least that’s settled, then.

  87. AncientGeek 87


    Young Labour is not registered as a party under the Electoral Act. It is itself an unincorporated body which I imagine has its own rules and or constitution. It is therefore not a party registered under the Electoral Act….

    You are correct as far as my reading of the act goes. But you miss the point. A lot of the provisions of the EFA are about transparency and public accountability. If you campaign, then you cannot do it covertly and you must account for the full electoral period.

    We’re in April now, and as far as I can see, all major and most of the minor parties have been running some sort of campaign already. Under the old act this wouldn’t have had to be accounted for. It is probably 6-7 months to elections. This is what happened in 2005, but only the last 3 months in that campaign were accounted for, and very little was transparent.

    So far it looks like the act is doing exactly what was intended. Transparancy and accountability for the full election campaign

  88. r0b 88

    Either we’re at cross purposes r0b, or I am really dumb. What are you on about, girl?

    Cross purposes Billy, you don’t seem to be dumb. And bravo for not assuming that I’m male.

    At the great risk of labouring my point, I am saying that Labour’s argument has been that no-one’s free speech is curtailed by placing restrictions on how much money they can spend broadcasting that speech.

    Correct, if the restriction is $120,000.

    If that is true, the EPMU’s speech is not being restricted.

    Ahhh no, because the Nats are trying to set the limit for the EPMU at effectively $0, by denying them the right to register as a third party.

    So, spend $120,000, free speech not curtailed. Spend $0 curtails the free speech of an organisation of 45,000 people. Spot the difference?

    Now, it’s true that I am being deliberately provocative in framing this in the same language – “restricting free speech” – that the Right used in attacking the EFA (two edged sword). I’m happy to use less emotive language if we are agreed that the language used by the Right on this issue has been cynically and hysterically emotive.

    But whatever language we use, it is the case that EFA doesn’t meaningfully restrict the speech of (most) individuals or organisations up to a limit of $120,000. But the Nats are trying to twist it so that it does restrict the free speech of the EPMU, and also using another legal tool, the injunction, to the same end. Shame on them.

  89. higherstandard 89

    Congratulations to the Prime Minister on doing the right thing.


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