The Greens have hired the equivalent of 8 full-time staff for two months to get their signature collecting as part of the Keep Our Assets Coalition rolling. It comes out of the fixed budget allocated to the party’s leaders’ office – not one additional cent from the taxpayer, just a choice: other parties spend millions of taxpayer money on polling*. It’s a good use of our money.
After all, National is spending $120m of our money on the middlemen for the sales process – bankers, advertising firms etc. And they’re looking at giving a $400m bonus to the few people who will end up being shareholders. That’s half a billion splurged just on selling assets that we don’t want to sell. The Greens are spending 0.015% of that amount on a counter-campaign and entirely within the rules because they’re not asking for votes, money, or membership.
It looks like the use of a professional core is really helping with the signature collections. The Greens have collected an amazing 20,000 signatures in the past week and now have 41,600. Just on Thursday, they were at 30,000. Of course, the Coalition would have gotten the signatures eventually anyway – only an idiot would claim that paid collectors have somehow unfairly created support for this cause – but the small professional team surrounded by thousands of volunteers, who can only commit limited time, appears to have really sped things up.
The rumour is that National is planning a million dollar ‘information campaign’ on the asset sales, using public money, to coincide with the coming referendum. They can’t spend the money directly on the referendum, so they’ll do an end run around the law. That won’t stop them throwing stones at the Greens, though.
*When David Farrar writes his inevitable piece whinging about the Greens’ legal use of their money, I hope he will reveal how much he has been paid in public money for polling services.