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Little’s Electoral Bill a curate’s egg – good in parts

Written By: - Date published: 1:51 pm, December 4th, 2019 - 11 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, campaigning, elections, electoral commission, political parties, social media lolz, spin - Tags:






I’ve always liked Punch magazine’s famous cartoon “True humility” where the curate assures his bishop who notices his egg is bad that “parts of it are excellent.”

Most discussion on Little’s Bill has focused on the bad bits regarding donations. The good bit requires all political ads online to be attributed.

The only effect of the ban of foreign donations to candidates or political parties over $50 will be to make the life of political party secretaries even more difficult than it already is to manage the minefield of convoluted electoral law. Party secretaries now have to scrutinise any donation over $50 to make sure that it did not come from a foreign source.

In reality this provision will be easy to work around for donors. So Little’s rushed Bill is more of a public relations exercise than a real attempt to improve the law. A major fault when it comes to foreign influence is to limit the scope to political parties and candidates. Lord Ashcroft didn’t fly out to New Zealand in his private jet twice immediately before elections here just to have a cup of tea with John Key. I believe he spoke the truth when he told journalists he didn’t donate to the National Party, but he runs a huge polling company and would likely have given them considerable assistance directly or indirectly. I made this point in my submission to the select Committee.

Henry Cooke of Stuff describes the Bill as “Good politics but terrible lawmaking”and suggests that we need another Royal Commission like the one in 1987 that brought in MMP.  He may  not be aware that that Commission canvassed the matter thoroughly and recommended State funding of political parties. It is the answer and support for it is growing.

The good bit in the Bill is the requirement for all political advertising on the internet media to carry attribution. Hopefully that will limit the Cambridge Analytica stye of under-the-radar advertising used in the Brexit referendum.

11 comments on “Little’s Electoral Bill a curate’s egg – good in parts ”

  1. ianmac 1

    Someone suggested that every voter be given a taxpayer voucher of $xxx to give to the party of their choice. Hard on small parties but….

  2. Stuart Munro. 2

    One of the failures of MMP has been that it has suppressed the emergence of genuinely independent MPs, with a consequent loss of freshness and dynamism to the country as a whole. With contemporary parties so compromised they cannot even pass an internationally normal tax like a CGT due to paid plutocratic resistance, it is not appropriate that the public fund them.

    And, the $50 limit is a nonsense – either foreigners should be allowed to donate or they should not. Guess which a firm majority of New Zealanders prefers – and since they prefer it, wtf is a $50 loophole doing there?

  3. Incognito 3

    Good post, thanks.

    A few people don’t seem to know the meaning of the word attribution.

    So, please allow me to take this opportunity because I believe that we should apply the same standards that we hold politicians to also to ourselves.

    Attribution may refer to:


    All three meanings appear regularly in Moderation notes here on TS 😉

  4. Karol121 4

    It does seem to be a form of political medicine quickly proposed through Mr Little to help alleviate the negative symptoms being experienced by many of us in relation to the feeling that democratic process, as a carpet mat, is being jerked at as we attempt to stand firm on it.

    We may have just been able to swallowed the eggy sulfur smelling pill in relation to Dr Feelgood excuses from New Zealand First Foundation types pertaining to New Zealand First contributory funding, and we may well have left it to digest and to deal with New Zealand First at the voting polls next year if the pill continues to cause adverse reactions after metabolising.

    But this party, party, party approach to funding appears to be an habitual, widespread activity across major parties as well.

    Perhaps NZ Labour has never gone down this track, but who really knows? It's occurred with the Australian Labor Party (ALP).

    Incognito raises a valid point too, in relation to interpretation and definition. At reading, and after the Bill gets passed (if it gets passed), there will have to be a crystal clear understanding of just what attribution is, so that it is defined, read and understood in context. It's not always as easy nor as straightforward as learning ABC's nor lesson 101 of 123.

    On political parties being funded for slush so as to facilitate self promotion in the faces of the public, such as shoulder rubbing photo shoots and gleeful whoopies, I personally don't have a problem with this.

    I am sure that funds specifically applied can bring many a satisfactory outcome irrespective of whether or not it is a form of feigned or contrived presentation to bolster eroding confidence, or even something as simple as simply Flash Harry antics.

    My only concern with any slushy slurry of funds, appearing to be sourced from and perhaps applied to grey area environments, is how much of it might be covertly used to target opponents or other less desirable or sympathetic to a particular party's overall objectives and which might ultimately only satisfy funders who may not show up as identifiable sources or even paints on radar.

  5. Buster12 5

    Lol. Dreams are free i guess.

  6. Descendant Of Smith 6

    Wealthy philanthropy and why we don't need it. I still think a turnover tax is the simplest solution.

    "The wealthiest Americans are often celebrated for their prolific giving, but is it altruism or is it all just hype? Hasan dissects how the ultra-rich use philanthropy to get richer, distract from the injustices on which they built their fortunes, and dictate politics and policy."

    Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj on Netflix:


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