I’m not always a fan of Colin Espiner’s work, but thank goodness someone’s injected a bit of sense into this morning’s hysteria over the EFB.
This morning’s blog post kicks off by pointing out the credibility hit the Herald will take for its shameless National Party propagandising this morning:
The Electoral Finance Bill comes back before Parliament this week, and from the hue and cry over this legislation you’d think Labour was trying to introduce the black plague. If the National Party and the bill’s chief opponent, the New Zealand Herald, are to be believed, this legislation makes the Government’s botched Suppression of Terrorism Act look like the Magna Carta.
Granny Herald has got so flustered over the Electoral Finance Bill that it’s devoted this morning’s front page to it, complete with a sinister-looking photograph of a woman with a gag over her mouth, a front-page editorial, and the headline: Democracy under attack. Inside, there are another two full pages devoted to why this bill is so bad, under the page banner: Threat to free speech.
Um, right then. Readers of this Auckland newspaper know not to turn to this organ for balanced, unbiased coverage on this particular topic.
He then turns his attention to National’s utter hypocrisy on the issue:
“What particularly annoys me is the bleating from the National Party over this. The Nats escaped virtually scot-free from the AG’s report by sheer luck. The party had spent most of its leader’s budget on political advertising earlier in 2005, believing the election would be in July. The AG only looked at the last few months leading up to the September polling day.
Don’t believe that National won’t spend every penny of the almost $7 million it receives from the taxpayer for “parliamentary purposes” either. National gets more than any other party (because ministers of the Crown don’t count in the funding formula, meaning Labour loses out) and recently received an increase in its budget of $668,000 – the most of any party.
If National really believed this law was a travesty, it would hand this money back and refuse to use its leaders’ budget for any purpose the AG originally deemed to be unlawful – including hiring expensive Australian election consultants, push-polling, and billboards featuring its leader.
It won’t, of course. But National is relaxed in opposing this legislation, confident in the knowledge that it will pass anyway, and because its leader could himself bankroll National’s entire election campaign if necessary. Other parties don’t have that luxury.”
It looks like the Herald tried its best this morning to break National’s anti-EFB campaign out of the beltway and into the public arena, but they stuffed it by making their bias too blatant. Let’s hope the rest of the press gallery take a tip from Espiner and think twice before running with National’s scare campaign.