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EFA lets voters know who bankrolls parties

Written By: - Date published: 10:20 am, June 19th, 2008 - 65 comments
Categories: election 2008, election funding, john key - Tags:

National has announced that John Key donated $30,000 to the party this month. That’s all well and good; Helen Clark donates a similar amount to Labour most years.

What’s new is that the donations Key and every large donor to National or any other party are now public. Previously, National received up to $2 million a year in secret donations that it purposely routed through anonymous trusts, so as to hide the identities of the donors from the public. We don’t know who was giving such huge sums to National but there is evidence that donors included the Insurance Council, who made a secret deal with National to privatise ACC, anti-MMP campaigner and multi-millionaire Peter Shirtcliffe, and Key himself, who was initially welcomed into the party in return for large donations.

The Electoral Finance Act has banned the practice of large secret donations. Now, the public get to see who the moneymen behind the parties are. That’s a good thing for democracy in New Zealand. Without the EFA, National would still be keeping its big backers secret from the voters. This announcement of Key’s $30K donation confirms the Act is working.

65 comments on “EFA lets voters know who bankrolls parties ”

  1. vto 1

    Mr Pierson, partisanship in pollie-blogging is all well and good but your posts continue to be less than robust -this time the claim “the Insurance Council, who made a secret deal with National to privatise ACC,”

  2. lukas 2

    SP, I am guessing that most of those donations from Labour MPs were made because they were “asked” to by party officials to help the party pay back the money it stole from the taxpayers.

    Also, I notice you fail to mention the $230,000 of anon donations that Labour received?

  3. Tane 3

    your posts continue to be less than robust -this time the claim “the Insurance Council, who made a secret deal with National to privatise ACC,’

    Read the link in the article. It’s there in black and white.

  4. lukas. I’m happy that all large anonymous doantions are now banned.

  5. lukas 5

    Tane- Hardly… its a link to another of your guys article that carries the same substance as this post.

    SP- Me too

  6. Scribe 6

    And I can’t believe SP has chosen to link to his own post titled “How much did Key pay for his seat?”

    Got even a shred of evidence since you first peddled that outrageous accusation two weeks ago? Didn’t think so.

  7. Tane 7

    Lukas. Your mate denied the Insurance Council made a secret deal with National to privatise ACC. I’ve provided you a copy of a memo, from the Insurance Council, saying they’ve done a secret deal with National to privatise ACC.

    Here’s a direct link to the memo, in case you missed it the first time.

    What more do you want?

  8. So amen to that.

    Capthca: stamped peasants? How unlabour can you get.LOL

  9. lukas 9

    My bad Tane, I just saw it was linked to a standad post and assumed it was of the normal rumour mongering standard.

    Have you guys actually looked at the amount of anon donations Labour got in 1999? granted it is nothing compared to ACT but my goodness!

  10. vto 10

    Tane, um, er, well that would be one piece of a no doubt larger puzzle on that matter. Your piece is noted though …

    For clarity (at risk of going off-topic) – the accusation is that National and the Insurance Council secretly agreed to privatise ACC, right?

    If so, why has it not exploded across the media and exposed the nats for what you fullas always say they are?

  11. lukas 11

    Actually… roughly looks like Labour got more anon donations than Act in 99

  12. Tane 12

    Lukas, fair enough. As for anon donations, I’ve been critical of all parties who receive them, including Labour, though National stands alone in having almost all their donations in 2005 provided anonymously. When put next to the Insurance Council memo it all looks very fishy.

    Vto, as I recall (don’t have my Hollow Men bible next to me at the moment) Hager released that memo just before the 2005 election but the media didn’t really show much interest in it. It happens sometimes. Clearly it’s not particularly newsworthy now (though Vernon Small mentioned it recently in relation to REINZ), but I’ve no doubt talks are continuing as we speak.

  13. Scribe 13

    vto,

    If so, why has it not exploded across the media and exposed the nats for what you fullas always say they are?

    The memo was in 2005 and it was certainly covered back then. Interesting to see who wrote this story. Name ring a bell with anyone?

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/topic/story.cfm?c_id=234&objectid=10343463

  14. vto 14

    Tane and Scribe, ta. Seems not quite so clear cut as Mr Piersons claim, as suspected.

    Though I may come across as a nat supporter I am not (they tend to have more policy in my preferred direction than labour tho). I hate with a passion any form of underhand corrupt or dishonest behaviour in any political organisation, given the unreasonably large amount of power they wield over the people.

  15. I’m having trouble working out why National is so upset about the EFA. They don’t want to talk about policy anyway…..and why would anyone in their right mind be fighting for the empty, logo-splashed, leader-focused propaganda that represents actual “political discourse” in NZ election periods?

    There is nothing stopping any politician or party laying out their policy, in full, on web sites and through the media……except some parties won’t say what their policies are and the media doesn’t waste much space covering policy in detail anyway.

    Maybe the quiescing of empty party ‘noise’ this election will allow some actual content to filter through.

  16. Introduction of competition is only the first step. Because the Accident Compensation Corporation framework effectively legislates no-fault compensation provided through a monopoly holder, and negates the ability to seek in tort physical harm suffered through negligence of another – it would be unlikely to be profitable as a model.

    The next step would be to repeal the “no-fault” clause, so that insurance companies would be required to pay for law suits rather than actual care, needlessly delaying the return to the workplace of a huge number.

    Finally, making work-place insurance “voluntary” on the grounds of “employer choice”. Hundreds of thousands would lose automatic cover overnight, and the ability to “contract out” of workplace insurance would become commonplace.

    Those who need ACC the most would be effectively bumped off onto nothing, and their only output would be to seek expensive litigative relief, which without being able to work, would be impossible to afford.

    National’s policy on competition represents the start of a very slippery slope, one that beats at the core of employee rights. One that will have to fought for regardless of the election result.

  17. kk 17

    -sorry slightly off-topic-
    Speaking of the EFA and secret donations, how do you right-wingers actually perceive the Exclusive Bretheren these days? I’m assuming you lot aren’t socially conservative. (mind you the EB were largely driven by economic opportunities)

  18. Joker 18

    There has been something vaguely familiar about the numerous (and mostly tedious) Standard attacks on Key that has really been bugging me.

    I have finally worked out the connection – “the protocols of the elders of Zion”.

    This stuff you are pedaling comes straight from the anti semite propoganda play book.

    All this demonising of the money grubbing, back room deal plotting, National men and their evil plans to bring the world to its knees.

    It is the same kind of lines people have been using against the Jews for ages.

    [call me an anti-Semite again and you’ll be banned. Our posts have nothing to do with Key’s various ethno-religious indentifiers. SP]

  19. Lew 19

    Policy Parrot: Dead right. Have you seen my argument along these lines here ?

    L

  20. Lew 20

    Joker: A conspiracy theory that there’s a conspiracy to give the impression there’s a conspiracy. Awesome.

    L

  21. Joker 21

    No conspiracy theory Lew.

    All I am pointing out is that the attack lines here match the same kind of style as regularly used against Jews. I am not saying that it was intended that way but there is a real similarity.

  22. Tane 22

    Joker, quit before you embarrass yourself further. You’re making an arse of yourself.

  23. Lew 23

    Joker: Nice `Standardistas = Nazis’ dog whistle, though. Real classy.

    L

  24. Nedyah Hsan 24

    Scribe:

    Kevin Taylor, correct me if Im wrong. Wasn’t he John Boy’s press secretary who was/still is with Madeleine Setchell?

  25. Phil 25

    Joker hasn’t called anyone anything. He’s observed a similarity between two things. The observation isn’t “bad” in and of itself.

    Example; “You drive like Miss Daisy”
    This does not mean that I am an old woman.

  26. Rex Widerstrom 26

    Strewth Joker, can’t you see the Standardistas are so vexed by Key that if he converted to Catholicism, popped over the ditch to World Youth Day and got a personal blessing from the Pope, walked back across the ocean and was canonised upon setting foot back on shore they’d still have a problem with him? It’s the whole “leader of the National Party” thing that gets them going 😀 😉

    Meanwhile, back on topic… I too am pleased that the EFA has brought about transparency in what were once anonymous donations. Long overdue and much needed.

    So why didn’t they just stop there? Why create a law so pernicious that it allows the EPMU’s right to partake in political debate to be seriously challenged? That attempts to restrict freedom of speech to such an extent that officials have to rush to consult four sets of lawyers before posting a government press release on the Beehive website?

    Why not simply let everyone have their say, to whatever extent they wish, with those who choose to pay for a political party’s propaganda out in the open? Instead we have a legal morass surrounding an Act which, in its core purpose, is an affront to democracy in all but its disclosure of donations provisions.

    But that’s okay, because “common sense” will save us all.

    The “chinless scarf wearers” must be overjoyed at the influence they’ve been able to exert on NZ’s political landscape. By firing a tiny potshot that didn’t even hit the target (National are the Opposition, last time I checked) they’ve prompted Labour to manufacture a faulty Howitzer, aim it at their own camp, and pull the trigger.

    [commonsense would work fine but National and allies have decided to try to push the law to absurd conclusions. SP]

  27. vto 27

    SP, why are you getting so het up about apparently being called an anti-semite. I got accused by mr pilott of being an anti-beneficiarite the other day – so can you please threaten to ban mr pilott too. Gotta be consistent I would have thought. Or not?

  28. vto 28

    “..they’ve prompted Labour to manufacture a faulty Howitzer, aim it at their own camp, and pull the trigger.”

    brilliant mr widerstrom brilliant. Paints a great picture.

  29. roger nome 29

    Rex:

    “So why didn’t they just stop there? Why create a law so pernicious that it allows the EPMU’s right to partake in political debate to be seriously challenged?”

    “Pernicious” would imply intent. The truth is that many thousands of dollars had to be thrown at an obscure loophole in order for the National Party to succeed in their attempt to stop the EPMU from spending a decent amount of money on electioneering this year. If anything it was the National Party who were pernicious in that instance.

    “attempts to restrict freedom of speech to such an extent that officials have to rush to consult four sets of lawyers”

    It’s called new law. There’s no international, let alone national precedent, so the law will take some working out in case law.

    “instead we have a legal morass surrounding an Act which, in its core purpose, is an affront to democracy”

    You don’t usually trade in silly non-sequiturs Rex. I’m surprised.

  30. roger nome 30

    vto – Depends on whether the accusation is accurate (in your case it may well have been), and it depends on whether it’s aimed at a person who contributes to the blog. i.e. Try accusing David Farrar of being a racist and see how long you last on kiwiblog.

  31. Matthew Pilott 31

    vto, what you were writing and endorsing was clearly anti-beneficary, as I showed. You backed out by the look of things, but don’t compare the two thanks.

    Why not simply let everyone have their say, to whatever extent they wish, with those who choose to pay for a political party’s propaganda out in the open?

    rex, simply disclosing a name doersn’t exactly reveal a lot in of itself does it?

    I might be Matthew Pilott of the Fluffy Bunny Foundation, but I doubt you’d find a decent journo who will show that my millions of funding come from Eviceration.corp.

  32. darryl p 32

    Just going back to the ACC debate, I’m not so sure that privitisation of ACC is actually such a bad thing. And all you’d need tot do to keep it in check would be to have one of the ACC providers still be government run – as in the case of kiwibank.

    At the moment you can choose to get a loan from any number of private banks or you could choose to get a loan from kiwibank. Just apply the same thing to ACC – You look at the options presented to you and then decide which one is best. But the increased competition should give a benefit to every worker.

  33. Tane 33

    darryl p, Price Waterhouse Coopers beg to differ.

    In praise of ACC

  34. Lew 34

    Phil: This is quite true, but it’s also quite arguable there’s an undertone in there. This is the sort of thing various people (myself included) object to when it’s done by the Standardistas, but it has to go the other way, too.

    For the record, I take an especially dim view of Nazi comparisons and complaints of being treated like `The Jews’. So should we all; it’s not something to be flippant about.

    L

  35. Lew 35

    darryl: I hate to plug myself, but nobody who believes privatising ACC is a good idea have addressed Policy Parrot’s and my arguments as to what would happen. Care to do so?

    Kremlinology: National on ACC

    EFA lets voters know who bankrolls parties

    L

  36. darryl p 36

    cheers for that Tane.

    Lew. What I was actually asking was whether we could run both systems. So as a worker I could choose to go with the current government run ACC or a privately run ACC. Then it would be up to me to weigh the pros and cons of each. I wasn’t suggesting replacing one with the other.

  37. Joker: Being critical is a process. That process can be used for good or ill. Just because I use a rope to tie up a boat and someone else uses a rope to hang a jew doesn’t mean I’m hanging jews with my rope.

    I hope that is sufficiently clear that it highlights how silly your argument is that being critical of Key for selling policy to the highest bidder isn’t the same as anti-semites being critical of jews for supposedly conspiring to rule the world.

    Being critical isn’t the issue. It’s what you are criticising that matters.

    Do you really need that explained to you?

  38. Lew 38

    darryl: In general I also approve of two-tier systems, but in this case I’m arguing that it’d result in the gutting of ACC as we know it.

    L

  39. vto 39

    Piss off Pilott, you really f%#&k me off with your bullshit over that. Your accusation was total crap and simply wrong. You showed nothing of the sort, liar. I see similar tactics by you with other people on this site. Grow up.

  40. Quoth the Raven 40

    It’s called new law. There’s no international, let alone national precedent, so the law will take some working out in case law.

    The EFA isn’t some new internationally unprecedented law. The laws are actually very similar to those in other countires, like Canada.

  41. Rex Widerstrom 41

    Matthew Pilott: rex, simply disclosing a name doersn’t exactly reveal a lot in of itself does it?

    Heh heh… “Evisceration Corp”. Damn, I only just registered a new company today, too, and came up with a much less exciting name. Handing someone a business card with “Evisceration Corp” printed on it means you’re almost guaranteed to have the upper hand in the meeting 🙂

    But yes, simple name disclosure isn’t sufficient and I clearly meant genuine transparency by whatever legislative means is required to achieve it.

    roger nome: “Pernicious’ would imply intent.

    And the implication is intended. I believe Labour set out to shut down dissent. Of course National will try to demonstrate the ability of the Act to stifle free speech by turning it on an ally of Labour. It’s called using irony to make a point. If they’d brought a case against the BRT, then you’d be calling them politically inept for silencing their own ally.

    You don’t usually trade in silly non-sequiturs Rex. I’m surprised.

    I’m surprised you’re not offended by a piece of legislation which – beyond the commendable efforts it makes toward transparency of donations – has as it’s raison d’etre interfering with the rights of anyone to say anything they want in whatever form or forum they want.

    The last piece of legislation that I found so anti-democratic and pernicious – yes, that word again – was the SIS Bill in 1977/78. I was a very junior journalist then and secured the first ever interview given by a Director of the SIS (and one with Muldoon) simply because I was determined that the people conspiring to erode our rights ought to be held to account.

    Ironically, Labour’s opposition to that Bill drew me, in those days, to support them. But that was back when they had principles.

  42. expat 42

    Now now Rex, Labour have principles. Its just that they don’t coincide with the majority of the people they represent, hence the poll ratings.

    IrishBill says: Hi expat, you seem to be getting caught in our moderation filter. I’ve checked the settings and can only assume it’s something to do with your ip address. I’ll ask Lynn to look into it.

    [lprent: doesn’t seem like IP address – I’ll look at it when I get home]

  43. r0b 43

    I believe Labour set out to shut down dissent.

    I believe Labour set out to create a level playing field for democracy after the gross abuses of the National Party in the 2005 election – abuses so egregious that when they were revealed in The Hollow Men the public outcry cost the leader of the National Party his job.

    If Labour had set out to create a biased law then they and the unions would not be getting so tangled up in the extremely strict interpretation of the law that is being applied. The fact that they are suggests to me that (1) they tried to create a fair law (similar to those in other democracies), and (2) it’s very hard to get it right first time.

    Its just that they don’t coincide with the majority of the people they represent, hence the poll ratings

    Labour’s vote is holding up just fine. Labour’s vote in recent elections (% of list votes):
    1999 38.74%
    2002 41.26%
    2005 41.1%
    Labour’s current polling is in the range of 35 – 39%, including polls which historically underestimate Labour’s vote in elections by about 4%.

    In short, Labour’s vote hasn’t “gone” anywhere. All that has happened is that opposition to Labour has consolidated around one big party instead of being spread over lots of little parties. The idea that voters are abandoning Labour is just tory spin.

  44. Phil 44

    “abuses so egregious that when they were revealed in The Hollow Men the public outcry cost the leader of the National Party his job”

    Some people on the left tend to get all hot and bothered about “hollow men”, but I simply don’t see the connection. Hagar and Wishart share the same journalistic credibility – neither of them register on the political radar.

    Brash’s personal indiscretions were the sole cause of his resignation – compounded by the fact he was woefully unprepared for the transition from private to public life, that politics entails.

  45. r0b 45

    Some people on the left tend to get all hot and bothered about “hollow men’

    Yes, assaults on the fabric of democracy do get people a bit worked up.

    I simply don’t see the connection. Hagar and Wishart share the same journalistic credibility – neither of them register on the political radar.

    Hagar registers on the radar, Wishart does not. Hagar wrote a book based on factual material that created such public outrage that the leader of a major political party had to go. Wishart did not.

    Brash’s personal indiscretions were the sole cause of his resignation –

    Hah! Yeah right! That all blew up and was ridden out before the election. Brash resigned after the election as The Hollow Men came out.

    Sorry Phil, gallant rearguard action and all that, but the history of all this has already been written.

  46. r0b: It’s also worth noting that in 2005 Labour got many MORE votes in absolute numbers than in 2002, despite winning a very slightly smaller share of the vote. More people voted overall in 2005 – on both sides of the ME vs US mindset divide.

  47. higherstandard 47

    rOb

    “assaults on the fabric of democracy” “abuses so egregious”

    Excuse me but isn’t that a tad bombastic – was anyone charged or found guilty of doing anything illegal, was there any rorting of public funds ?

    You also tend to forget that National shot themselves in the foot on the Bretheren issue and delivered the election to Labour.

    In my opinion the EFA is a far more serious attack on the fabric of democracy in NZ and in much the same way as Nationals ill conceived dalliance with the Bretheren the EFA will seriously hurt Labour come election day and in the interim.

  48. r0b 48

    Excuse me but isn’t that a tad bombastic

    Of course it’s a tad bombastic. It’s explicitly modelled on some of the anti EFA ranting that goes about the place.

    You also tend to forget that National shot themselves in the foot on the Bretheren issue and delivered the election to Labour.

    Haven’t forgotten at all. An actual example of that “law of unintended consequences” meme that some of the KBR have been pushing.

    In my opinion the EFA is a far more serious attack on the fabric of democracy in NZ

    Oh please. National tried to buy the 05 election. Labour tried to fix the problem. National’s actions were an attack on democracy, Labour’s were not.

  49. higherstandard 49

    Really Bob Jone along with many others thinks so.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/story.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10516202&ref=rss

    National tried to buy the 05 election ? Really ? I can remember the 05 election pretty well and if they did indeed try to buy it they did a pretty crap job.

  50. Quoth the Raven 50

    Higherstandard – What do think about other countries with very similar legislation like Canada and England (possibly Japan?)? Are they undemocratic? Or do you think the EFA is bad only because it’s from labour?

  51. higherstandard 51

    Raven

    The part of the EFA I agree with is the complete openness regarding political donations if it had stopped there it would have been fine.

    Other parts of the EFA have reduced communications to new heights of absurdity and are demonstrably undemocratic.

  52. Quoth the Raven 52

    higherstandard – There isn’t complete openess of political donations. That would have been nice though. What parts of the EFA do you think are absurd? Please enlighten us. Could you also answer my earlier questions.

  53. Lew 53

    higherstandard: Except so far nobody has demonstrated that they are.

    L

  54. r0b 54

    National tried to buy the 05 election ? Really ? I can remember the 05 election pretty well and if they did indeed try to buy it they did a pretty crap job.

    Yup. The year long iwi/kiwi billboard campaign really worked for them, but they blew it with the Brethren. Lucky for us!

  55. Pascal's bookie 55

    Other parts of the EFA have reduced communications to new heights of absurdity and are demonstrably undemocratic.

    So the EFA is the final swansong of the fascist octopus then? 😉

  56. Vanilla Eis 56

    captcha: equality street.

    Nothing really to add, just delicious captcha.

    Still, you have to wonder at how badly Labour screwed the pooch on some of the wording in the EFA. I know an EA to one of the Labour MP’s, and she despises large parts of the law that mean she has to vet pretty much every communication with the public for possible electioneering, as well as reign in said MP whenever he wants to do something innocuous (such as give a radio interview).

    However, the general thrust of the law is admirable, and I would much rather it were here than not.

    What will be interesting is if the legislation remains the same if Labour retains power after the election. Because, believe me, no one is more frustrated at it than many of the Labour-party staff.

  57. Phil 57

    “Hagar wrote a book based on factual material that created such public outrage that the leader of a major political party had to go. Wishart did not.”

    Half right Rob, half wrong.

    Wisharts book is based on documents in the public record, therefore they are factual material.

    The only difference here is that “evil businessmen” have more appeal in a Clancy/Brown/King kind of way to most people.

  58. r0b 58

    Half right Rob, half wrong.

    Beg your pardon Phil, I am happy to rephrase.

    Hager wrote a book based on factual material that created such public outrage that the leader of a major political party had to go. Wishart wrote a book based on (some) factual material that that was so utterly insignificant that the public ignored it completely.

  59. Lew 59

    The major distinction I gather between The Hollow Men and Absolute Power (be advised I haven’t read AP) isn’t in the documentation, but the analysis of that documentation.

    And there’s the rub. Anyone can write a book based on factual documentary evidence, but not anyone can write a book which represents that factual documentary evidence in a reasonable or legitimate manner.

    I have read The Hollow Men and while I have some concerns with the analysis and conclusions drawn, I think the book’s line of argument (that National have been somewhat cynical in their use of anonymous donations and secretive connections with foreign and NZ-based lobby groups) is broadly correct.

    I’m aware of nobody who isn’t a declared Clark hater who agrees with or gives even the slightest credence to Wishart’s analysis or conclusions (that Helen Clark and by extension Labour represents a lesbian conspiracy to take over NZ and destroy the family as an institution, and has mostly succeeded).

    That in itself doesn’t mean they aren’t good conclusions or analysis, but it is a strong indication they might not be.

    L

  60. higherstandard 60

    Raven

    The parts I take issue with in the EFA are the

    FOR PEOPLE WANTING TO BE INVOLVED IN THE CAMPAIGN WHO ARE NOT A REGISTERED PARTY OR CANDIDATE

    and parts of

    SUBSTANTIAL CHANGES TO ELECTION CAMPAIGN AND EXPENSE RETURN RULE

    as per their descriptions here.

    http://www.elections.org.nz/rules/ec-media-electfinbill-191107.html

  61. Quoth the Raven 61

    FOR PEOPLE WANTING TO BE INVOLVED IN THE CAMPAIGN WHO ARE NOT A REGISTERED PARTY OR CANDIDATE

    So you take issue with third party spending caps. This is what those other countries have. And you still haven’t answered my questions about those countries.

  62. higherstandard 62

    QTR (CT)

    Those other countries are clearly democracies.

    1. There has been significant discontent with the laws in those countries also.
    2. I believe the laws in those countries also have significantly different limitations?

    UK, 12 months, 660000 NZD (20% of an election cycle)
    Canada, 8 weeks, 210000 NZD
    NZ, 11 months, 120000 NZD (30.5% of an election cycle)

  63. expat 63

    I’ll be coming through on a few IP addresses I’d imagine as I’m around and about a fair bit.

    [lprent: it is odd. It isn’t our moderation trap. It is the akismet spam trap. That is run from wordpress.com.. You must have been sent into spam a few times?]

  64. expat 64

    Hmm, very strange. I dont get caught by any other wordpress run sites…

    IrishBill says: we have pretty tight spam filters because we get a lot of traffic and keep an open comment section (rather than a registration only) so comments get caught quite regularly. If it keeps happening Lynn may need to tweak the filters.

    [lprent: The times I’ve seen you caught recently have been in the akismet system, not in moderation.

    I don’t have access to the setup there because it is run from wordpress.com. The only access I have to that system is to turn it on, and to send spam to it and to tell it when things are not spam.

    It could be that your comments have been thrown into spam by some site? I don’t have enough details about how the system operates to give a definitive answer.]

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