Electoral Finance Bill – some sense at last?

Written By: - Date published: 4:20 pm, November 12th, 2007 - 13 comments
Categories: articles, election funding - Tags: ,

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.

13 comments on “Electoral Finance Bill – some sense at last?”

  1. So this is the same Colin Espiner described by your beloved friends at kiwiblogblog as thus:

    “A particularly tricky little bit of misinformation often used by HQ and Davey (and by tax cut campaigner — and part-time journalist — Colin Espiner) is to attack Helen Clark’s point about Treasury’s pessimistic economic forecasts being a major factor in Labour not committing to tax cuts earlier.”

  2. Tane 2

    Yeah, like Eddie says, you don’t have to be a fan of Espiner’s work to appreciate his contribution on this one.

    Seeing as you’re here Prick, what do you think of Espiner and what he has to say?

  3. Monty 3

    I have had a wonderful day listening to Talkback radio and reading the Herald and “your views” in the Herald – all 55 pages of comments – the vast majority of which are anti the EFB.

    The momentum is gathering and not since the anti-smacking debate has an issue taken so long to gather some momentum.

    Helen’s worst nightmare is occurring – the debate on the EFB has gone mainstream. It has dominated talkback all day and will do so for the next few weeks – Is this the final nail in the coffin of this desperate and corrupt government? – I for one believe it is.

    So what is response from the left to the herald Lead story on Page one – well it seems the left were asked to comment about the bias journalism of the Herald – but 90% of the comments are clearly against the EFB and what Labour is trying to do to our democracy.

    I see another plunge in the polls for Labour just in time for Christmas. What a great present the Herald has given the right in time for Christmas.

  4. Santa Claws 4

    Hmmm, Eddie I’m surprised that you didn’t disclose that Espiner is a Fairfax staffer, and in competition with The Herald.

    IP – Eddie attempted an inoculation with this cute little phrase “I’m not always a fan of Colin Espiner’s work” which leaves him the option of decrying any past or future item that doesn’t fit Labour’s line.

    Tiny has been all over the blogs today asking what happened to the Left Wing Media Bias – well maybe he will be happy now.

    Its also telling that TheStupid had to wait for some contrary opinion (there’s always one after all) before daring a post on this topic.

    I see you managed to miss quoting this section:

    “OK, now I’ve been fairly critical of this bill myself – it’s not Labour’s best work and it does screw the scrum in its favour during election time. Partly this was deliberate, and partly it was due to the fact that all the balancing proposals, such as caps on anonymous donations to political parties and state funding, were removed at the insistence of the New Zealand First party.

    To make matters worse, legislation that was passed to validate the spending by all parties ruled unlawful by the Auditor-General last year is due to expire and the Government is seeking an extension until June 2009.”

  5. Santa Claws 5

    More Espiner goodies

    “Clark said today that she would be happy to see a clamp-down on anonymous donations but only if there was a “quid pro quo” in the form of state funding of political parties. This, the Prime Minister explained, was “because the Labour Party isn’t led by me with a $50m bank account”.

    That last comment left me somewhat breathless. Is the Prime Minister really saying that Labour is now drafting legislation specifically tailored to the wealth of the Leader of the Opposition? Her comments appear to reinforce my earlier point (see previous postings on this subject) that Labour has designed this legislation to suit itself and no one else.

    Personally, I think whether or not John Key has $50 million in the bank is immaterial. The most National can spend in an election campaign is $2.4 million. If Key wants to bankroll the campaign, so what? It’s his money. He would have to think very carefully before doing so, however, since the public’s reaction would likely be negative and a donation of that size would be very difficult to conceal, even with Labour’s loose campaign finance laws.”

    So, slight change of view there then?

  6. Tane 6

    Hmmm, Eddie I’m surprised that you didn’t disclose that Espiner is a Fairfax staffer, and in competition with The Herald.

    Santy, I would have thought the link to stuff.co.nz would have given the game away. A bit slow today?

    Its also telling that TheStupid had to wait for some contrary opinion (there’s always one after all) before daring a post on this topic.

    Na, we just have, like, jobs to do, and have to fit in our posting when we get a spare moment. When we saw Colin had already written it up for us we were hardly going to reinvent the wheel. It must make you sad when your hero stabs you in the back though. Don’t take it too hard Santa.

  7. Matthew Pilott 7

    Anyone else noticed that sites like stuff don’t er…give a Stuff? Storm, meet Teacup 😉 The crux of it is that not allowing Government Departments to inform the public of what they are doing is actually pretty undemocratic – the Right disagrees, but only because they disagree with what said departments are doing!!!

    I love this ‘beyond the beltway’ thing, most sensible people will probably wait till after the select committe before deciding whether to geet all frothy, unlike all the Tory lap-dogs and their bloated sense of mis-directed outrage. If they actually gave five-eights of a fuck about Democracy, they’d understand that particular provision…. Unfortunately, that’s not what a lot of these guys are fussed about.

  8. gobsmacked 8

    Monty says: “What a great present the Herald has given the right in time for Christmas.”

    Really? The opposite, if anything. To win, National do not need the votes of the Klark-haters (insert here: Hitler, Mugabe, foam and froth). They’ve always had them. They now need those who voted for Clark and Labour last time. Simple arithmetic.

    These voters might well be open to persuasion by reports of government failings in the news media. But they are unlikely to be persuaded by propaganda that borders on hysterical. By ceasing to be a serious newspaper, the Herald has ensured that from now on, whenever it reports something bad about Labour – even if true – it’s just gonna get the Mandy Rice-Davies response.

    Colours, nails, mast. A year too early.

  9. dave 9

    Colin wrote that piece because his paper is in competition with the Herald. Sometimes journalists need to get some facts. You don’t need balance in a blog,so why did Colin talk about balance? If Colin doesnt want to write the whole story, but says he wants to write a balanced opinion pece,that shows the very bias you allege of the Herald. At least the Herald has the facts and a great deal more balance.

    Colin appears to have conveniently forgotten that National will repeal any EFB.

  10. Tane 10

    So now you’re accusing Colin Espiner of fitting his opinions to the financial interests of his employer? I’d just like to get that on the record.

  11. dave 11

    I Never mentioned financial interests, nor did I even consider or imply that. So you have it on record.

  12. Razorlight 12

    Why are some people making this a Labour v National debate. It has absolutley nothing to do with Party affiliation, ideology or been on the left or right. It is not a Socialist Bill. It is bad bill criticised by groups on both sides of the political divide.

    It is obvious that Labour is trying to make this a Left v Right debate to gain support. But please just look at the bill. Forget who has written it and who opposes it and assess it on its merits.

    The National party should not be a consideration in the debate and to use the as a reason to promote it is wrong.

  13. You’re a hypocrite, Tane. You, and the rest of the Standard, have as good as accused the Herald’s writers of fitting their opinions to the financial interests of the Herald. You really are a hollow man, Tane.

    To answer your question, I think Colin leans to the Left. He hasn’t written much about the EFB at all. He is curiously out of step with most other members of the Gallery. Still, if Chris Trotter can get away with the line that anything Labour does to keep the Tories out of power is justifiable, then Colin is entitled to his ideological burps as well.

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