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Let he who is without sin….

Written By: - Date published: 11:59 am, August 4th, 2011 - 17 comments
Categories: election 2011, law - Tags:

The Parliamentary exchange relating to the magazine ad is here:

Hon Annette King: Can he remember advertising in the Grey Power magazine recently, stating “We’re working for you. Security. Well-being. Respect.”; if so, does that respect include listening to, and acting on, the advice of those older people who are saying that selling the State assets they paid for is totally unacceptable?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I do recall some ads in the Grey Power magazine, including one on asset sales, that did not carry an authorisation statement. I think that will be among the material referred to the police, with the Labour Party yet again in trouble for breaking the electoral law.

Hon Annette King: I seek leave to table an advertisement from the National Party in the Grey Power magazine that solicits votes and is unauthorised.

But the Jackel’s compliant is potentially more serious. I’m not so worried about the use of the electoral roll for segmenting the population, but sending an electoral ad, masquerading as a personal letter from the PM, to every person over 65 in the country is a pretty big deal. It makes waving a few hundred stop signs seem like small beer. – Eddie


Police to Investigate John Key

Written by The Jackal at 3:19 PM

Recently I wrote about National being in breach of privacy laws and abusing Parliamentary Servicesconcerning them attaining the address details of pensioners, and targeting that group with electioneering material.John Key’s Communications Manager Willy Trolove pointed out that it was John Key himself who had sent the electioneering advertisement directly to pensioners, through Parliamentary Services, and not the National party.It’s a bit of a grey area, as the electioneering material contained a link to National’s website, promoted National’s policies and had their logo. I was happy that Willy Trolove made the distinction though, as it’s the facts that I’m interested in. Three week’s ago I again wrote to Willy Trolove:

“I’m specifically requesting information on how you were able to separate the pensioners details from the general public’s details as contained in the electoral roll?”

However the only answer I’ve received is that the pensioners details were obtained from the electoral roll, which does not answer my specific question. Willy Trolove is now ignoring my emails and requests for information. When Trolove was responding, he informed me that the letter:

“Has been approved for a parliamentary purpose in accordance with the Parliamentary Service Act. In compliance with that act, the content of the letter is neither electioneering nor campaign material.”

In my opinion, the material was electioneering and campaign material. I was concerned that the National party was abusing their position of power and unhappy that John Key had persuaded Parliamentary Services to disregarded procedure as clearly defined within various Parliamentary Acts.

It’s not acceptable to undertake such an electioneering advertisement at the expense of the taxpayer, when it’s strictly prohibited. So I wrote to the Electoral Commission to gain their opinion on the material in question. They responded:

“The Electoral Commission’s view is that the letter would appear to meet the test of being an “election advertisement” for the purpose of the Electoral Act.”

The Electoral Act states:

Meaning of election advertisement 

(1) In this Act, election advertisement –

(a) means an advertisement in any medium that may reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to do either or both of the following: 

(i) to vote, or not to vote, for a type of candidate described or indicated by reference to views or positions that are, or are not, held or taken (whether or not the name of the candidate is stated): 

(ii) to vote, or not to vote, for a type of party described or indicated by reference to views or positions that are, or are not, held or taken (whether or not the name of the party is stated).

Therefore in the opinion of the Electoral Commission, John Key et al is in breach of the Electoral Act and therefore the Parliamentary Services Act, which has the same criteria set out to determine what is electioneering and/or campaign material.

John Key’s and National’s election advertisement was published within the regulated period, therefore the taxpayer should not fund it. I have requested that the Electoral Commission refer the matter of John Key and National’s abuse of Parliamentary Services to the Police.

The irony of all of this is the authorisation statement’s purpose is surely to tell us who is doing the advertising. In none of these cases is that in doubt. The Nats and Labour aren’t trying to hide whose putting out the ads, they’re just stuffing up the technical form of words needed. Is the law on authorisation statements an ass? – Eddie

17 comments on “Let he who is without sin….”

  1. Bazar 1

    Throw the book at both of them, both National and Labour.

    And no the law isn’t an arse for needing authorisation statements.
    Without it, theres nothing stopping anonymous/untraceable advertising of bullshit.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      …anonymous/untraceable advertising of bullshit.

      That sounds like our MSM and their printing of slightly reworded NAct press releases.

    • Blighty 1.2

      Why an ad be counted as authorised if it is clearly a document published by a political party or other organisation? They are identified by, say their name and logo, in all these documents. They are not anonymous, so why does it matter if the document also says “authorised by”?

      The problem, as micky says, is when a party publishes something that they don’t think is an ad and so they don’t put the statement on it, and then it is found to be an ad. Like National’s letter to pensioners. They are explaining what they see as their policy on super in light of the budget and how people gain from it. They are not asking for votes, they are publishing the policy of the government. So they don’t think it’s an ad, no authorisation statement. EC finds otherwise and suddenly it’s a case for the police

      • Deadly_NZ 1.2.1

        The maybe TV3 with Garnet and Plonker should put up ads before opening their mouths.

  2. Is the law on authorisation statements an ass?
    Yep.  It has caused all sorts of consternation to Labour activists and presumably the Nats as well.  Even simple emails to supporters now have “authorised by” statements on them.
    The law was there to require a publisher to be identified.  The Exclusive Bretheren experience was the genesis.  Where the statement comes from a political party itself the need for an authorised by statement is bizarre.  Nanny state in the extreme.
    I actually do not oppose Key using PS money to publicise National policies as long as all the parties can.  I just wish there was a mature debate about it.  I trust that Cameron and others will now be jumping up and down about the use of their hard paid tax money for political purposes.
    But good on Jackel for publicising what looks like an extraordinary example of hypocrisy.

  3. randal 3

    Itw worse than hypocrisy. Its blatant ignoring of the laws of the land.

  4. Rich 4

    The electoral commission state that an elector’s date of birth is confidential and is not released to anyone. So if they gave dates of birth to the Nats, then it’s a breach of their rules and/or legislation.

    It’s possible that the Nats used other sources (like a credit reference agency) to find dates of birth. That in itself would seem to be a breach of the Privacy Act, as the information wasn’t provided to facilitate political campaigning. Or they could have obtained the data from another department, like MSD, which would also be illegal.

    The only other option I can think of is that they selected on an occupation field (which is available) of “retired”, or did a statistical trick – if the person lives in Tauranga and is called Norman or Gladys, chances are they’re a pensioner.

    • Rich 4.1

      EDIT: Well, the electoral commission site is a bit misleading. They aren’t allowed to provide candidates and MPs with the date of birth. They are required to provide the age group (in 5 year quanta).

      So that’s probably what the Nats did.

      • lprent 4.1.1

        Yes – the electronic roll has a 5 year range in it for each voter as a letter code. From memory something like ‘A’ – ‘S’, S being the 15-20yo and A being something like 120-125yo.

        • jackal

          Thanks for the info lprent. Would you happen to know if the A to S is searchable by Parliamentary Services and MP’s? Usually this information is only available to the relevant authority.

          I wonder if the pensioners details were gained for the specific purpose of John Key’s Electioneering Advertisement, as required under the Electoral Act 1993, and whether the proper fee was paid for the supply of this specific information.

          I’m also wondering if there’s an appropriate accompanying statement, that should be provided by the Chief Registrar, which would define the request and the parameters the information was to be used? I feel an OIA request coming on.

          • lprent

            The electronic electoral roll is made available to political parties, who will usually allow it to be accessed by MP’s and candidates.

            I’d guess that it isn’t allowed to be accessed by Parliamentary Services employees except those in the electorate offices – who are working directly for MP’s. You’d have to look at the Act. It is quite specific about what the electorate rolls and especially the electronic one may be used for.

            • Rich

              This is all documented, you know 🙂

              s114 (2) c sez: “a member of Parliament or person acting on behalf of a member of Parliament who wishes to obtain the information for the purposes of the member of Parliament”

              That would seem to me to include anyone in PS working at the direction of an MP. It wouldn’t allow a PS person to collect the data of their own volition.

              It also sez that you have to state the requester must state that “information is required for purposes permitted by this section” which is defined as “the purposes of the member of Parliament”. That would seem to me to include any kind of information, research or campaigning, all of which are the tasks of an MP. A party (whether inside or outside parliament) can also request information for their purposes.

              My reading, and IANAL, is that the only way you’d breach s114 is by using the data for some non-political purpose, like debt collecting or market research. It wouldn’t even be illegal to give the data to Farrar or someone to hassle people into focus groups, as long as it was kept political and the request originated from a party, candidate or MP.

  5. bbfloyd 5

    well, i’m pleased to see this has finally got peoples attention..

    i wrote this out verbatim on this site’s open mike and got no responses whatsoever… my mother, who is a pensioner living in te aroha gave it to me. she said that all her friends got one, and were confused as to what was actually being said.. the impression was that it was an attempt to confuse rather than inform…

    the letter itself is blatant electioneering…. any other interpretation is either dissembling, or blatant lies to cover for nationals cynical and corrupt political practices..

    i also read the labour pamphlets in question… they were actually a hell of a lot more informative(which says nothing), and did have the proper autherisation…

    attempts to lump labour in with nationals theft of public money for self promotion are no more than the the tried and tested “labour did it too” kaka that has served them so well as long as we have an utterly compliant fourth column…

    i really am getting tired of waiting for an honest, civilised, and responsible dialogue on the real and important issues facing us. i realise that this won’t ever happen until the”elites” stop operating on the basis of total self interest being a “goodness”…and realise the utter stupidity and ultimately self destructive outcome of that approach.

    i speak for the majority of people i know when i say that we are all utterly sick of our futures, and the futures of our children being held hostage to the greed and duplicity of national and their supporters..

    annother few years of this idiocy and we won’t have any young tradesmen/women, or skilled artisans, administrators, or anyone of consequence left… australia, and europe will be thanking the nats for delivering skilled workers to them allowing them to avoid the expense of having to educate them..

  6. Tombstone 6

    I was at the Riccarton Market in CHCH last week and there was a stand set up with National banners all over it and electoral material laid out on the table where 5 -6 young Nationals were trying to rally people to the National cause. Is that not electioneering and can they do that?

  7. Terry 7

    Yes, I am an old age superann. and I received an unwanted and unasked for letter from John Key (for whom never in a life-time would I vote) begging for the support of him and his Party. Never have I had official dealings with this Party so I truly wonder how he know my age, status, or address? It was both an ad AND a plea. I was much irritated.

  8. Rich 8

    See upthread. They’ll have got a list of people with an age group code, and then mailed everyone over 65.

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