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But why?

Written By: - Date published: 10:42 am, August 29th, 2008 - 62 comments
Categories: election funding, nz first - Tags:

I’m not going to spend a lot of time on Peters because its not the kind of issue that affects Kiwis lives (its messy but its not like secretly planning to sell public assets). I’d rather use my post-writing time taking a deeper look at the findings of the Social Report. But…

It seems likely, one way or another, that Peters will lose his portfolios today. That’s been the standard practice when a investigation by Police or other authority is underway. Peters has said this wouldn’t derail the passage of the ETS. Let’s hope not. It would be a crying shame if the implementation of a policy to confront the most serious threat facing our country and species was blocked by a politician who wasn’t upfront.

The SFO’s powers mean its investigation should be able to get to the bottom of the alleged missing donations but a few questions will remain:

Why tell the public what increasingly looks like a tissue of lies? Unless there is some real fraud underlying all this, there was nothing illegal about the truth, except possibly failure to declare some donations on the party return – not a hanging offence. Was it merely hubris and his underdog attitude that made Peters absolutely deny any donation from Glenn when he was at least on notice, via the PM, that Glenn claimed such a donation had occurred?

Why not just hide large donations like National did with secret trusts?

Will all this finally create a political consensus that we need to rid politics of the messy business of large private donations and replace them with partial public funding, which is fair, transparent, and impartial?

62 comments on “But why? ”

  1. “I’m not going to spend a lot of time on Peters because its not the kind of issue that affects Kiwis lives (its messy but its not like secretly planning to sell public assets).”

    Good try Steve but unfortunately John Key has already got his flag firmly planted in the moral high ground (did you hear him on Nine to Noon today ?). It’s going to take a lot to stop the mud from sticking to the PM this time.

  2. dave 2

    Exactly, and with regard to implementation, hows Peters going to stop implementation when he isn’t goint to have any influence on it? National will change the Act before it is implemented.

  3. Scribe 3

    SP,

    It would be a crying shame if the implementation of a policy to confront the most serious threat facing our country and species was blocked by a politician who wasn’t upfront. (Emphasis mine)

    You’re joking right.

  4. Lew 4

    Scribe: Given that you’re well aware of Steve’s position on climate change, how could you possibly think he’s joking?

    L

  5. “Will all this finally create a political consensus that we need to rid politics of the messy business of large private donations and replace them with partial public funding, which is fair, transparent, and impartial?”

    And locks new parties out of the political process ? Or is that what you mean by partial Steve ? Not keen to have my pocket picked anymore than it already is.

  6. Scribe: Spot on mate. Try googling top twenty threats to human race. I think climate change is least of our worries.

  7. lprent 7

    It is a bit of a trivial side show. I’m not particularly interested in it, except to see how much this moves Winstons electoral support. My bet is that it moves it up rather than down – he does so like being the underdog.

    On the important factors. I liked this from NRT (did on the the other thread as well.) What happens if Winston pulls the plug?.

    Bryan: John Key doesn’t have a moral ground. He does have a better position of expediency as he isn’t constrained by various inter-party agreements, cabinet protocols, or for that matter by doing things in the house where he is constrained by the “honourable member” protocols.

    Edit: I am interested from another direction. It is annoyingly noisy in the blog and nothing I really want to read about. Hope the posters do some posts on other topics – if so I promise to be massively over-reactive to comment thread jacking on posts. I feel a really good black and bold banning session coming on.

  8. Crank 8

    The Government plays (unfortunately in my view) a very big part in the lives of Kiwis.

    Anything that undermines the publics perception of honesty and integrity from our elected officials is a very serious issue that if left unchecked could undermine our democracy.

  9. lprent 9

    Crank: Perhaps you should look at the Waitemata Trust. That is the most obvious issue that was undermining NZ’s democracy.

  10. “as he isn’t constrained by various inter-party agreements, cabinet protocols,”

    He is constrained by the need to have coalition partners if he wants to form a government after the election. Even if Winston First goes belly up, Labour still has a lot more options for forming a coalition than National, John Key has just eliminated one.

    It’s looking like the infamous “John The Gambler” song may have been prophetic. John Key is gambling on Winston First failing to reach 5% and National polling high enough to govern in coalition with Act (and perhaps the Maori Party).

  11. Pascal's bookie 11

    Crank, then I am sure you must have read Hager’s excellent book about Hollow Men, and be concerned that Steven Joyce is on the National Party list.

  12. crank. corruption is a serious issue, what we have here is the possible perception of possible corruption.. it speaks to how clean our politics is that this is a major issue…

    … but it’s not a major thing compared to what the government does. Today, the government will provide income support to 500,000 retired people, 100,000 single mothers, 100,000 sick and disabled people… 370,000 working families. it will provide tens of thousands of medical procedures free of charge, provide education to hundreds of thousands of people, deploy thousands of police, spend $1million on maintainance of state highways alone… all up it spends $164 million a day on average

    … those things govt do is a really big deal, they directly affect the lives of every new zealander and many thousands of people overseas… peters and his denials are smallfry compared to that

  13. Scribe 13

    Lew,

    Given that you’re well aware of Steve’s position on climate change, how could you possibly think he’s joking?

    Well, it was a more generous suggestion than the one I’d have made if I assumed he was being serious.

  14. r0b 14

    Will all this finally create a political consensus that we need to rid politics of the messy business of large private donations and replace them with partial public funding, which is fair, transparent, and impartial?

    Thank you SP for highlighting the most valuable lesson we could learn from this fiasco!

  15. Crank 15

    lprent,

    We could argue the toss on annonymous donations all day and I would probably agree in principle that they are not a great thing but the Waitemata trust and National didn’t do anything illegal.

    The issue here is you trying to dismiss what is a huge political event that has caught the full attention of the nation as a side show.

    Like I said, there is the serious issue of the publics confidence in our elected officials at stake here

  16. Matthew Pilott 16

    Like I said, there is the serious issue of the publics confidence in our elected officials at stake here

    So if it were obvious to you, as it is to the rest of us, that use of the Waitemata Trust broke the intent of the law, then you’d be very concerned.

    Lying isn’t acceptable. Nor is acting in a technically legal manner that violates the intent of a law, on a massive scale. Where are the cries of anger?

  17. higherstandard 17

    What delusional piffle.

    What has the Waitemata trust got to do with WP repeatedly lying to all and sundry ?

    r0b

    Will all this finally create a political consensus that we need to rid politics of the messy business of large private donations and replace them with partial public funding, which is fair, transparent, and impartial?

    Hope so but I doubt it very much – the major issue will as you say be how to make it fair transparent and impartial which is probably largely dependent on who get’s to make that decision.

  18. Anita 18

    The issue here is you trying to dismiss what is a huge political event that has caught the full attention of the nation as a side show.

    We’re all politics geeks. What do you think the rest of NZ knows and thinks?

    I reckon it’s all just confusing noise which reinforces their cynicism and distrust of politicians, but isn’t much changign anyone’s opinons about any individuals or parties.

  19. lprent 19

    Crank: To me it is a side-show. It has nothing to do with policy except to highlight yet again the murkiness of the Electoral Act 1993 with regards to donations and accountability.

    That is a topic that has been thrashed out here quite a lot.

    If there is a question of trustworthiness, then it goes to the framers of that Act for making it such haven for the types of shenanigans that the Nats and NZF did around 2005.

    The EFA helped to clean some of that up – but not really enough.

    HS: If there had been a requirement in the Electoral Act 1993 to provide full transparency, then there could have also been a requirement to provide full accountability. Neither were there. Therefore you get the type of morally bankrupt, but probably not illegal crap that both NZF and National were doing.

    In both cases it is reprehensible

  20. Scribe 20

    Anita,

    We’re all politics geeks. What do you think the rest of NZ knows and thinks?

    What they see on the front pages of daily newspaper and see/hear on the TV and radio broadcasts. And it’s not good news for Winston and, after yesterday’s revelations, it’s not good news for the PM.

  21. higherstandard 21

    Lynn

    Could you get any more partisan.

    Look up moral bankruptcy at present and you’ll see the present government staring at you in the face.

  22. lprent 22

    Anita: I think you’re probably right. It is too noisy to really get out into the public arena much. There hasn’t been much comment about it where I’ve been recently (and most of those places apart from DL are very conservative).

    People feel that they have a measure of Winston, and they’re eitehr for or against him anyway.

  23. Rob 23

    Its funny isnt it that the term Global warming has been dropped now for the term Climate change.

    Why is that new research out that the world is going into a cooling period which is expected to peak around 2023.

    This Winter is going down as one of our coolest ever!!

    I see that someone has already lodged an injunction to stop the ETS bill and good on them its based on dodgy science and we need to full evaluate all evidence before we head down that track.Imposing costs on people that should never be imposed in the first place.

    http://www.climatescience.org.nz/

  24. higherstandard 24

    What fantasy land do you people live in ?

    WP has had on ongoing fight with the media that has now lasted for years.

    They will not let his misdeeds go unpunished and his behaviour has enmeshed the Prime Minster and the present government – it still has some days to play out and will become one of the defining moments of this political year if not this term.

  25. Anita 25

    Rob,

    Its funny isnt it that the term Global warming has been dropped now for the term Climate change.

    I think it’s because the changes are more than just warming and include, for example, increased numbers of severe weather events, change in rain fall patterns.

    Why is that new research out that the world is going into a cooling period which is expected to peak around 2023.

    Reference?

    This Winter is going down as one of our coolest ever!!

    Reference?

    I see that someone has already lodged an injunction to stop the ETS bill

    Reference?

    FWIW pointing to http://www.climatescience.org.nz is not the same as providing references (better still, credible references) on any of the claims in your coment.

  26. Hoolian 26

    Clinton – you are such a cop out.

    I’m not going to spend a lot of time on Peters because its not the kind of issue that affects Kiwis lives… I’d rather use my post-writing time taking a deeper look at the findings of the Social Report.

    If this had anything to do National you would be all over it like a rash. You would post every 30 seconds on how it was all a conspiracy, relating every word to your Cosby/Textor paranoia, whilst demanding Key resign. [I have never demanded that any politican resign and I expose National’s secret agenda and the methods it is using to try to win the election because if they win it wil have a very real negative effect on the lives of hundreds of thousands of Kiwis, noone argues that this Peters thing actually affects Kiwis lives. SP]

    Higherstandard mentioned “moral bankruptcy”, well you can add it to your CV, Clinton. Congrats on another hollow, party-aligned post.

    Your bias is dispicable.

  27. Rob 27

    Anita

    try this

    INJUNCTION SEEKS TO STOP LABOUR MPs PASSING ETS BILL
    {zapped for bad transcription }

    [lprent: For pities sake – Where he transcribed the link from]

  28. Anita 28

    Rob,

    Try doing it this way:

    On the 4th of August the process for an injunction to stop the ETS was kicked off. Application here, affadavit here.

    P.S. Found the other two references?

  29. lprent 29

    Anita: Different site – nzclimatescience.net

    Look like the usual pile of selective info.

  30. Anita, you can sum up the anti-ETS position as:

    – Because it will cost us money to save the world.
    – Its too late now, so who gives as long as we put “more green in the blue, the blue being my pants”.
    – No evidence that humans are responsible – simply a coincidence that global CO2 levels are at record levels – and in fact off the scale.
    – This winter was cold, did I say that I want my money back?

    It is unfortunate that this issue even remains on the political radar here, at was rightly pointed out on Wednesday by Doug Woolerton, that Western Europe is looking for excuses to keep out NZ agricultural produce as the common market is slowly prised open, and food “carbon” miles would be a convenient tool with which to do so.

    The ETS is a rational, and considered, response to the dilemma of climate change, and the Greens made the correct call in backing it, simply because any more dawdling will come at a higher cost.

  31. burt 31

    Matthew Pilott

    Lying isn’t acceptable. Nor is acting in a technically legal manner that violates the intent of a law, on a massive scale.

    Are you talking about retrospectively validating 14 years of an unknown amount of spending ?

  32. Anita 32

    lprent,

    I think it’s the same site: same landing page, same IP address (although two A records not an A and a CNAME – how sloppy is that?!)

  33. Tim Ellis 33

    SP I know you delight in being provocative, and I do enjoy a lot of your posts for this reason, but I think you do yourself a real discredit by saying: “I’m not going to spend a lot of time on Peters because its not the kind of issue that affects Kiwis lives.”

    LP was careful just in the last day or so to say that he didn’t think anyone at the Standard was defending Winston Peters. With all due respect, your opening statement, and what follows, looks like a hatchet job. It is nothing more than a diversion tactic. It is cynical in the extreme.

    Like it or not, in media time, this has been the biggest political issue as far as the media is concerned in a very, very long time. This government has enacted controversial legislation designed to make political funding and political spending far more transparent than it ostensibly was in the past. This issue concerns a politician who has deliberately been evasive about political funding, and is facing several inquiries into whether he broke the law. The scandal runs deep. It is an issue of potentially major political corruption. There is a crisis of public confidence in the foreign minister around his behaviour in dealing with this issue, which is likely to lead to the prime minister standing him down.

    If this is not “the kind of issue that affects Kiwis lives”–and if that is the test for writing posts at the Standard, then I put it to you that the question of the Exclusive Brethren colluding (and doing so legally) with the National Party in 2005, which Standard’s writers have written so extensively about, doesn’t meet the test, either. The issue of how many properties John Key has or how much money he has, does not meet the test of affecting Kiwis’ lives, either. The issue of whether the National Party plagiarised the Coldplay song Clocks, doesn’t meet that test, either.

    Again I say this with respect SP, because you are a good and interesting writer. You let yourself down when you write posts like this. This post is nothing more than a crude, and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to spin the issue away from Winston Peters. Your responses so far have been: 1. National is lying. 2. There isn’t any evidence. 3. There is now evidence, but Winston hasn’t done anything illegal or immoral. 4. Winston has done a few immoral things, but look at how immoral the other guys are. 5. Winston deserves a fair trial, and everybody is colluding to stop him having a fair trial because they are immoral and corrupt. 6. This isn’t a major issue.

    I don’t like to put words in people’s mouths SP, but if you stay to form your post after the PM makes her decision today will be: 5. The PM made the right decision in the circumstances.

    I don’t think that outlook is credible SP. I ask you to seriously consider how your effective defense of WP looks, and just how damaging it has been to Labour to go around protecting him as they have.

  34. lprent 34

    Anita: Urggh – bad bad DNS work.

    Have you read the affadavit? That is kind of funny. It is after an injunction to bind the NZLP. Which would have no effect on the NZLP MP’s because of parliamentary privilege. At least whatshisname who did the affadavit wasn’t daft enough to attempt to bind the MP’s. Opps I’m wrong – it is at the end in the injunctive relief.

    Furthermore there is no legal reason advanced as to why the courts should take notice apart from a sort of general “public interest”.

    Kind of amusing as a party piece. Doesn’t look like it has been done by a lawyer

  35. Felix 35

    Anita I think you’re bang on about general perceptions outside of the geekosphere. In my real life dealings with regular people lately I’ve found very few who have any idea what’s going on with Winston et al.

    They’re aware something is going on but from what I gather it looks a bit like this to the uninitiated:

    Winston Peters – in trouble and belligerent – normal state of affairs.

    Helen Clark – soberly taking care not to get her hands dirty – normal state of affairs.

    Rodney Hi-de-hi – noisily drawing attention to himself by taking a moral stance – normal state of affairs.

    John Key – I’d have done what Helen does (only sooner and better) – normal state of affairs.

    In short I don’t think this alters anyone’s perceptions of any of these people to any significant degree.

  36. Crank 36

    Steve

    “but it’s not a major thing compared to what the government does. Today, the government will provide income support to 500,000 retired people, 100,000 single mothers, 100,000 sick and disabled people 370,000 working families. it will provide tens of thousands of medical procedures free of charge, provide education to hundreds of thousands of people, deploy thousands of police, spend $1million on maintainance of state highways alone all up it spends $164 million a day on average”

    But I think we should remember that the Government doesn’t do this stuff magically. This happens because we (the taxpayers) fund it and we decide who administrates on our behalf.

    When those chosen show a lack of honesty and integrity it threatens all these things you have mentioned.

    I might be getting a bit hysterical but you catch my drift.

  37. Crank 37

    Felix

    “I think you’re bang on about general perceptions outside of the geekosphere”

    If believing that no body understands what Winston has done based on your anecdotal evidence helps you sleep at night then good for you.

    Unfortunately you make the mistake of underestimating the publics inteligence.

    When something is the lead story in every main stream news forum you can be sure that most will know what is going on.

  38. Matthew Pilott 38

    Burt, no. Although that did dig every party out – whether that is ok or not is a different question. I like my government functional. I don’t like it bought.

  39. burt 39

    Matthew Pilott

    I don’t know if it’s been bought OR if it sold itself to the first bidder. Owen Glenn couldn’t have hired a bunch of actors to put on such a good political drama as he has received with the (relatively small for him) amount of money he has spent on his entertainment.

  40. randal 40

    bryan spondre..yes I did hear john keys on 9tonoon today. he showed his true colours which are, short temper, arrogance and worst of all the petulance of a spoiled brat. no wonder the tories dont want him on teev discussing policy because he does not come off as a balanced human being.

  41. Glenn 41

    Of course you’re not interested in it because it can only spell bad news for Helengrad. But I think you’ll find that the conduct of our Ministers is important to kiwis; significantly more so than your asset sale fantasies. (And, frankly, whoever’s owned Telecom or the railways has never affected me.)

  42. jaymam 42

    I’ve said for years that public funding of elections is the best way. That would get rid of all the current problems with donations and election spending. The amount involved is miniscule compared with the total cost of government.
    Funding should be proportional to the number of votes a Party gets in the NEXT election.

    As Brad Pedersen said about Australia: “Financial donations to political parties and candidates are one of the most corrupting forces in our political system. This is the dark underbelly of our political system. These donations are a serious threat to our democracy. The policy outcomes of all our governments risk being improperly influenced by huge corporations, powerful trade unions and wealthy individuals. Some donors even secure their influence by making equally enormous donations to both parties.

    “Every year the major parties collect what amounts to many millions of dollars, much of it through dubious means. Creative accounting and shady ‘front organizations’ are used to allow rich and powerful donors to mask their identity. The current legislative framework is wholly inadequate, riddled with loopholes and invites corruption. The time has come to seriously confront this cancer in our political system.

    “Nobody should believe this money is donated because of any altruistic enthusiasm for democracy. Even if there is no direct undertaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, clearly it’s about buying influence. These donations are predominantly just bribes – to think otherwise is naive. It must be exposed for what it is. The control of parliament by political parties riddled with donor cash should not be seen as anything less than the breakdown of fundamental aspects of our democracy. It is no secret that the major parties are being strangled by these donations. They need to be saved from themselves…”

  43. Clinton Smith said “I’m not going to spend a lot of time on Peters because its not the kind of issue that affects Kiwis lives (its messy but its not like secretly planning to sell public assets).”

    Bullshit Clinton. You’re not going to spend time on the Peters issue, because then you would have to spend time on the Clark issue as well – you know; the issue that the PM has for the last six months known or strongly suspected that her Foreign Minister and confidence-and-supply partner has lied to her, to Parliament, to the Privileges Committee, and to the public of New Zealand. And you’d also have to mention John Key having seized the moral high ground, while taking a break from eating babies!

    Slippery Helen – hmmm, has a ring to it eh!

  44. randal 44

    what a load of tripe invented2. the whole winnie thing is a technical bleatway (sic) argument designed to exercise the public so the national party does not have to explain itself. it is aided and abetted by the wannabees in the meedia who are failing in their duty to ask for policy and substance. shame on the nats and the meedia.

  45. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on Peters because its not the kind of issue that affects Kiwis lives (its messy but its not like secretly planning to sell public assets). I’d rather use my post-writing time taking a deeper look at the findings of the Social Report. But

    It IS the kind of issue that affects Kiwi lives. It is the ONLY story at the moment-although we should be talking about the biggest ever threat to our economy, the Emissions Trading Fraud Bill, which is based on another fraud, the theory of man made “global warming”.

    Actually the Peters/Clark/Glenn Scandal is relevant to the ETB because Clark is using Peters to ram this bill through(under urgency), without consultation or a clear cost.

    The consequences when the carbon market collapses will be unprecedented, not to mention the extra taxes that will be extracted from New Zealanders under the new law.

    Relying on a Minister(Peters)who is a liar and Prime Minister who has known he was for 6 months is a joke.

    Peters conduct affects all of us and Clark should have sacked him 6 months ago.

    It doesn’t look good for Clark and your Labour Party with this secret agenda swirling around her.

    This story has weeks to run.

  46. Anita 46

    Darrenn Rickard,

    Actually the Peters/Clark/Glenn Scandal is relevant to the ETB because Clark is using Peters to ram this bill through(under urgency), without consultation or a clear cost.

    Not under urgency.

    With full consultation; it went through the usual Select Committee process which was very thorough.

    What makes you think there wasn’t adequate consultation?

  47. Felix 47

    crank you miss the point entirely. Of course people are aware of a lot of noise but do you you really think anyone’s picking up or losing any support over it?
    Nope, to most people this is just business as usual – politicians up to their normal antics and none of it out of character.

    The only possible exception would be Winnie – if he comes out the other side of the SFO intact it could do him the world of good.

  48. It will be put through under urgency next week.

    Lip service was paid to submitters to SC and little time was given to those with dissenting views on the “Climate Change” fraud.

    The bill has over 1000 amendments that you could drive the tubby Al Gore through.

    Finally there is NO need to pass a bill for a problem that doesn’t exist and that will make us all pay large tax increases.

    Relying on Peters to pass a crooked law maybe appropriate but because its impact will be so deleterious, why rush it?

    Let Kiwis know the true consequences of the Bill becoming law, not Government spin.

  49. Anita 49

    It will be put through under urgency next week.

    What makes you think that?

  50. randal 50

    keys looks like he’s on the verge of a nervous breakdown. if thats what you call winning the argument then it does not not look very good

  51. randal said “what a load of tripe invented2. the whole winnie thing is a technical bleatway (sic) argument designed to exercise the public so the national party does not have to explain itself.”

    What???!! So all these conflicting statements, all the donations that have gone to trusts and have not been disclosed, all the bluster and bullshit is all National’s fault?

    So if that’s the case, why has Clark asked him to stand down? You guys scrape the barrel at times, but sheesh; that takes the biscuit!

  52. “keys looks like he’s on the verge of a nervous breakdown.”

    TAB is paying evens that Helen’s pill box is bigger than John Boys.

  53. Lew 53

    Darren Rickard: “It will be put through under urgency next week.”

    Actually, according to Michael Cullen yesterday before Question TIme, priority will be accorded to the ETS bill on Tuesday afternoon, then once it’s passed the house will move into urgency to deal with the other stuff on the order paper.

    He was very clear: the ETS bill will be passed during the house’s ordinary business, then the house will move into urgency.

    But I see you don’t want to let the stated facts get in the way of implying the government is acting undemocratically.

    L

  54. Not quite Lew – Cullen said that urgency would be taken “after the Committee Stage” of the ETS legislation. And of course, if the House goes into urgency on Tuesday afternoon or evening sometime, there will be no Question Time other than Tuesday, no General Debate on Wednesday etc etc. My guess is that Labour wants the ETS passed on Wednesday (Committee Stage Tues; Third Reading Weds) so that if necessary (i.e. the PM is called to give evidence) Parliament can be dissolved BEFORE the Privileges Committee meets on Thursday which means that all matters before the PC are discharged.

  55. Just like the scrapping of the Privy Council and Civil Union legislation Labour badly want too push through the ETS legislation. At all costs eh Miss Clark. School children of the future will study the consequences of Helenism.

  56. Oh puleeze 56

    I come in here and all I read is the same old arguments from lefties, who complain about the National Party raising funds that are paid by anonymous trusts, and then saying we must have state funding of political parties.

    Then I look at what we have actually got now and what a farce it actually is.

    If your parties are going to get guaranteed money from the government then first of all there has to be a huge change in the political landscape. We want accountability and a lot more than there is now.

    No more legislation like the Child Discipline Bill and the Electoral Finance Act trampling over widespread public opposition. No more shoddy MMP electoral system with Winston Peters demagogues holding the country to ransom on 5% of the votes.

    State funding of political parties is an idea cooked up by politicians who want to guarantee the creation of more power for their parties who already have too much power and not enough accountability when they rule the country. Before NZ goes down this route we should be demanding a much higher standard than the circus that has been the 2005-2008 Labour led coalition.

  57. r0b 57

    If your parties are going to get guaranteed money from the government then first of all there has to be a huge change in the political landscape. We want accountability and a lot more than there is now.

    Well ahh – yes – that’s the point.

    No more legislation like

    But accountability seems to mean something quite different to you. Sorry, you don’t get to ban legislation that you don’t like.

    State funding of political parties is an idea cooked up by politicians who want to

    It’s an idea supported by the people who want to know that the political process in NZ can’t be purchased by the highest bidder.

  58. Tim Ellis 58

    rob the issue of public funding of political parties is an interesting one. I am not sure that there is a whole lot of public support for it. The only polls I have seen on it (don’t ask me to quote them, because I’m digging into memory) suggest that the public don’t want political parties to be publicly funded.

    There is an issue that the royal commission made some recommendations into political funding of political parties. They didn’t necessarily argue for funding of political campaigns. The political landscape has changed dramatically in the last 22 years, since that discussion. Since MMP in particular, political parties have far more resources at their disposal, and parliamentary services is a much bigger creature than it was 22 years ago. There is far more public money for MPs to communicate to their constituents, and parties to communicate their policies, then there was 22 years ago.

    The Royal Commission said that there were many major dangers with public funding of political parties: it would dilute both the power and influence of mass membership, if parties didn’t have the accountability procedure of having to ask their own members for money. The Royal Commission was very clear that this accountability mechanism should not be disposed away with.

    I personally think that it’s high time for another royal commission to consider political party funding, parliamentary services funding, expenditure, and disclosure, third party activities and regulation, donation disclosure, spending limits, and spending disclosures. The EFA did a reasonably good job of cleaning up the funding disclosures, but messed up a whole lot of other things in the process. The Government should have set up a royal commission straight after 2005. Sadly the Government was more interested in writing rules to suit itself than listening to independent, or for that matter, even official advice. That’s why this election we’re stuck with the insane electoral finance act, which has confused everyone to the point that even eight months into the year, not even the electoral commission can offer reliable and prompt advice to parties.

  59. r0b 59

    I am not sure that there is a whole lot of public support for it. The only polls I have seen on it (don’t ask me to quote them, because I’m digging into memory) suggest that the public don’t want political parties to be publicly funded.

    That is my recollection too. It’s much too easy to tap into the public’s default distrust of politicians and defeat this proposal (which is what parties with lots of anonymised big money private backers will do every time – they like the electoral playing field well tilted thank you). But I believe that if the public understood the improvements in transparency and accountability that public funding would bring, then it would get the support that it needs.

    I personally think that it’s high time for another royal commission to consider political party funding, parliamentary services funding, expenditure, and disclosure, third party activities and regulation, donation disclosure, spending limits, and spending disclosures.

    There I agree with you completely.

    The EFA did a reasonably good job of cleaning up the funding disclosures, but messed up a whole lot of other things in the process.

    And there I agree in part. The problems with the EFA seem to me to be more in the implementation then the intention.

    Sadly the Government was more interested in writing rules to suit itself

    Oh what bollocks, if they wanted to write rules to suit themselves they could have done a lot better job of it, and you wouldn’t expect Labour and the EPMU to be all tangled up with the problems that they have. The Government was interested in writing rules to prevent the kind of behaviour that National indulged in in 2005 – behaviour that raised a public outcry that arguably lost National that election, and rightly cost Don Brash his job. Lest we forget eh.

  60. lprent 60

    I agree with r0b.

    On the last point, I’d add that there was cross-party support for the bill. It wasn’t across all parties (who’d trust the Nat’s after their performance in the 2005 elections) but it was a majority of representatives. The important thing was to make sure that the new bill fixed the flaws that had been identified, which it largely did.

    Generally the voting public appears to not think that this is an issue. That is what the polls say, and that is what I hear on the ground.

    The people who are most upset with it are the ‘financial agents’ of the various parties and 3rd parties. It forces them to improve their accounting. But I have to say that it sounds to me like an echo of when I was helping put in GST systems in 1986(?). Then, all of sudden, businesses had to put in systems to do what they should have been doing all along as well. Takes a few years to bed that in.

  61. Tim Ellis 61

    Come on LP, that’s a truism. By that definition, there’s been cross-party support for every contentious piece of legislation passed in an MMP Parliament. There was nothing close to even a broad consensus on the EFA. This was the first time that any piece of electoral legislation passed without consensus. It was also the first time where there was no reference to any official advice justifying key issues, such as spending limits, disclosure limits, and the defined election period.

    There was no analysis from the Law Commission–an unprecedented step in electoral reform, because the Law Commission diplomatically indicated it wasn’t the appropriate way to go about electoral reform. There was overwhelming media opposition to the legislation. There was no support from the Law Society. There was no basis from an independent royal commission for the reform. There was extensive advice from the Electoral Commission that much of the legislation would be unworkable.

    There was no overwhelming support from submissions at select committee–on the contrary, there was overwhelming opposition from the only avenue of public input. There were, however, last minute changes to such things as the spending limits by third parties, which seem to happily have coincided with the very levels of spending incurred by the third parties affiliated to the Labour Party in 2005.

    There was never an attempt to get a consensus on this legislation. It was rushed through, weeks before the beginning of the defined election period, and we’re still trying to work out what it means.

  62. r0b 62

    Just quickly, because it’s late: There was nothing close to even a broad consensus on the EFA.

    Untrue. For almost the entire process (Dunne changed his mind at the last minute of the third reading) the EFA bill was supported by a solid majority of parties, only National and Act opposed (the Maori party being somewhat undecided in favour of the principle, some issues with this particular drafting). It is interesting to go back and read all the party leaders’ views:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10481042&pnum=0

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