Compliments and questions

Written By: - Date published: 3:20 pm, September 18th, 2008 - 25 comments
Categories: act, election funding - Tags:

First, it’s nice to be pleasantly surprised by a tory. Turns out Tony Friedlander’s Road Transport Trust is not just donating to National. As well as $30K to the Nats, Labour got $20K and other parties will get something as well to help the democratic process. Can’t help but notice National got the most though. And good to see questions asked about the donations of parties other than NZF*

Second compliment goes to the NBR (I know!). The articles that Ben Thomas is putting out are an example of political journalism as it should be – focused on the issues, questioning of both sides, well-researched. It shows that even a partisan outfit like the NBR can, and ought to, demand good arguments and good policy from its on side as well as its opponents.

*[here’s a tip for anyone wanting to do some investigation – ACT declared just $32,000 in donations from 2003 to 2005 but spent $996,000 at the 2005 election. By comparison, the Greens declared $392,000 and spent $586,000. Not all donations have to be declared, only those over $10,000 but how could just 3% of ACT’s expenses come from donations over $10,000? Other parties, even the poor hippy Greens, received 30-100% of their expenses from donations over $10,000. Only NZF claims as low a percentage of large donations, and we know how that turned out. So, where is the rest of ACT’s money coming from and how is it being hidden? Remember in the late-90s ACT announced an official policy of avoiding declaring donations by taking $9,999 donations and splitting one source of money between multiple donors. And could this link into ACT leader Rodney Hide’s comment that ACT used secret trusts, even though no donation from a trust ever appears in their declarations? And how does Sensible Sentencing tie into all this?]

25 comments on “Compliments and questions”

  1. Stephen 1

    The donations are “to help the democratic process” now? What was it before? Or is it helping the process if it goes to both parties?

    Dunno why you’d donate a similar amount to both parties, surely better to throw your weight behind the ‘best’ choice…

    Good point on Ben Thomas.

  2. the sprout 2

    Any party that gets 2% of the vote but receives the millions that ACT does is going to be bent.

    A chocolate fish for the first journalist with enough balls to dig into ACT’s finances.

    ACT declares $32k out of $1M spent and we’re supposed to be its legitimate? Very very few kiwis would if they were made aware of it.

  3. toad 3

    Will be interesting to see if the Greens get anything from the Road Transport Trust, given that the Greens propose to divert a lot of Government funding into public transport infrastructure that National and Labour propose for roading infrastructure.

    Or is the Road Transport Trust just funding the parties who will do their bidding?

  4. Or is the Road Transport Trust just funding the parties who will do their bidding?

    I think the answer to that is obvious. Why fund them otherwise?

    BTW, good pointer to Ben Thomas – I hadn’t seen his latest, and its damn interesting.

  5. Ari 5

    Holy flying pigs! It’s New Zealand political journalism! 😀

    captcha: Barnyard Attorney. ^_^

  6. Wondering 6

    Or is the Road Transport Trust just funding the parties who will do their bidding?

    Why on earth would you expect to get funding from someone whose policies you oppose? If I was ever going to donate to a political party, it would be because I agree with their policies.

  7. the sprout 7

    yeah that’d be like Owen Glenn donating to NZ First

  8. toad 8

    Some corporates purport to donate on the basis of “promoting democracy” and “being a good corporate citizen” regardless of policy.

  9. weka 9

    splitting one source of money between multiple donors

    How does that work?

  10. Ari 10

    Why on earth would you expect to get funding from someone whose policies you oppose? If I was ever going to donate to a political party, it would be because I agree with their policies.

    “Do your bidding” implies a subservient relationship where the party serves their donors, not an agreement of principles. Understanding your fellow commentators saves time.

  11. vto 11

    I always understood many corporates and institutions and individuals donated across the spectrum. And yes it really is in order to do their bit in being a good citizen – it surprises me that you are surprised at this SP. Perhaps a little more exposure to the typical so-called ‘tory’ outside of Wellington would help in fostering that wider view (excuse the assumptions).

  12. Phil 12

    Re: ‘tory’

    Is it OK if we (the collective ‘tories’) start calling you “Whig?”

    Seriously dude… the 18th Century sent a messenger, they want their name back.

  13. Quoth the Raven 13

    The conservatives in britain still call themselves tories. What’s wrong with calling the conservatives tories here.

  14. Anita 14

    weka,

    splitting one source of money between multiple donors

    How does that work?

    Let’s say I want to give $50k to ACT. Under the old rules donations over $10k had to be declared, so instead I give $10k, my partner gives $10k, our family trust gives $10k, the company we own gives $10k, our daughter gives $10k. I provide each of those $10k amounts to the donor. Nothing is declared, it’s all legal under the old rules.

    Similarly big companies washed money through subsidiaries.

    Which is why, flawed as it is, the EFA is a huge step forward for transparency.

  15. Greedy Pig 15

    Over at the landlord says blog:

    “Meanwhile the National Party released its immigration policy. You may wonder what this means for the property market. It is clear from research that immigration is one of the key drivers of house price growth.

    The logic is simple. If you import more people into the country, then you need more houses. Supply and demand means that prices are then pushed up, this is particularly so in Auckland.

    While the latest immigration numbers show the number of people coming into New Zealand is starting to rise, the Nat’s policy looks like it wants to increase immigration levels even further. (Although it is unclear what sort of number they are targeting.)
    This policy is, arguably, a plus for people who want house prices to rise. (But may be not so good for first home owners wanting to buy.)

    My guess has always been that property investors lean heavily towards the right rather than the left. (This was made clear in an email newsletter I saw from one developer this week.)”

    Not that I’m implying National is funded by property developers etc.

  16. weka. Anita’s description is right. You have one source of money (one rich guy, one company) but that source gives the money to other people or legal persons who then give the money on to the party. It’s kind of the opposite of the donation pooling to trusts that then pass it on to parties but the effect is the same, disguising the ultimate source of the money. Both practices are called funneling and are banned by the EFA.

  17. Stephen. Take a look at the donation records… you’ll see that there are several major companies (Westpac, Sky City) who give to the parties, usually the same amount to the major parties and a smaller amount to the minor parties. They do this out of a philosophy that in a healthy democracy parties should have access to the funds they need to campaign without having to snuggle up to donors who want something back from them… or maybe they do it to stay in everyone’s good books.

  18. insider 19

    Ouch look at those Auckland numbers…

  19. Weka: How does that work?

    It’s called “money laundering”. And it has no place in a democratic society.

  20. Insider: Ouch look at those Auckland numbers

    You might want to take another look at the date on those.

  21. insider 22

    I did and the direction was down. Is there any reason to think they have risen with overall Labour rating down?

  22. DS 23

    >>>I always understood many corporates and institutions and individuals donated across the spectrum.<<<

    Big Business is very pragmatic in the way it donates to political parties. While it prefers National, it’ll quite happily throw money in Labour’s direction as well in order to stay in Labour’s good books.

  23. Phil 24

    I/S, Weka

    Actually, it’s called “smurfing”.

    Say you rob a bank, and have wads of cash sitting about. You want to put that money into an electronic account to move it around and buy stuff, but clearly can’t rock up to the local BNZ branch and deposit it all at once.
    So, you employ a legion of accomplices to take a small parcel of that cash (maybe $1-$2 thousand) deposit it in a new account, and then transfer it into your account at a later date.

    In the political context, where you need a much smaller band of willing participants, I can’t really see any realistic way of stopping the practice (if indeed it really happens) short of banning private funding of political parties… which I don’t support and doubt will ever be proposed.

  24. Phil: In the political context, where you need a much smaller band of willing participants, I can’t really see any realistic way of stopping the practice (if indeed it really happens) short of banning private funding of political parties which I don’t support and doubt will ever be proposed.

    I can: lower the disclosure threshold to, say, $500. This massively increases the amount of work launderers have to do to evade transparency.

    (Oh, and I should point out that this practice is illegal under the EFA and that if party officials know of it, they must report it or go to jail. A few symbolic prosecutions should encourage les autres…)

    [Tane: Not sure why, but you always end up in our spam filter. Lynn, could you have a look when you get a chance?]

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