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Meet the new EFA same as the old EFA

Written By: - Date published: 8:45 am, November 23rd, 2010 - 66 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, dpf, election funding, national - Tags:

Remember 2008 and the Electoral Finance Act? Remember “Democracy Under Attack!”? Remember the hate filled comparisons of Helen Clark to Hitler? Remember David Farrar’s shameful series of billboards comparing Clark to various violent dictators? Yeah, me too.

And then National became the government and decided to keep most of the EFA. While the Act itself was repealed in February 2009, the interim legislation that replaced it kept the EFA’s rules around disclosure (which the Nats voted against while in opposition). To develop a permanent replacement National began a consultation process (and full credit to them for handling this much better than Labour handled their reform), with a discussion document and then a proposal document in September 2009. Legal academic and constitutional expert Andrew Geddis commented:

Electoral finance reform: back to the future?

Stage two of National’s electoral finance reform proposals is out—and it looks oddly familiar

The revelation that National is still considering limits on third party (sorry, “parallel campaigner”) expenditure attracted no more than a pro-forma “tsk tsk” from the Herald’s (regular) editorial slot. …

We may even end up with an “EFA-lite”, which would be a supreme irony given the wailing and gnashing of teeth that took place from late 2007 through 2008.

The right wing bloggers went ballistic: “National Socialists Sell Out Again!”, and “National to reintroduce EFA-lite”, and so on. In February 2010 the actual proposals were released, to strangely muted reaction. Andrew Geddis again:

The Government has announced what it plans to do with the law on electoral financing. Not all that much, actually.

First of all, the Government actually doesn’t propose very much reform at all to the existing law on election financing. …

The proposals have since been turned into various electoral bills which which are making their way through bowels of Parliament. One of these Bills — the “Electoral (Finance Reform and Advance Voting) Amendment Bill” — passed an interesting milestone yesterday when the select committee reported back:

The Government will limit what lobby groups can spend on election campaigning in its redraft of election finance laws despite strongly objecting to such a limit in 2008.

Interesting isn’t it how the responsibilities of government mean that the Nats have to repudiate so much of their irresponsible opposition rhetoric! Kudos to National for retaining limits, albeit set too high. But some of National’s spinsters — less cynical and more crazy than the MPs themselves — are taking this latest development badly. Here’s DPF:

Return of the EFA

God I am pissed off. The Electoral (Finance and Advance Voting) Amendment Bill has been reported back, and National and Labour have voted for introducing a cap on third party spending.

I really wonder sometimes why we bother changing Governments, when the new Government adopts so many politics of the old Government – especially a policy that was a big part of why they got thrown out. …

I think many of those who protested against the EFA will feel a sense of betrayal with this bill. National has put the desire to be bipartisan with electoral law (which is commendable) ahead of doing what is right.

DPF’s problem is that he actually believed the batshit crazy anti EFA propaganda that served the Nats electoral purposes in 2008. The party itself is much more “pragmatic”, and has dropped that posturing like a hot rock, the same way they dropped their Iwi/Kiwi racist tactics and their reluctance to deal with Winston Peters. While I applaud the more pragmatic perspective on the responsibilities of government, I abhor the cynical propaganda that got them there.

So, meet the new EFA, same as the old EFA. And next time the Nats unleash a tirade of self-serving propaganda on some topic, if we the people remember how expediently they change their tune when it suits them, perhaps we Won’t get fooled again.

66 comments on “Meet the new EFA same as the old EFA ”

  1. burt 1


    It’s a disgrace isn’t it. Imagine the angst all the Labour team are having right now. Having defended this horrible law when it was going to serve Labour you lot then worked out how bad it really was once in opposition. That feeling of relief when it was killed off now must be very worrying. Imagine the powerful weapon you supported to be used on your opposition has now been wheeled back in to be used against you. What a laugh.

    Oh, it’s still a shocking law and I’ll be there beside you fighting it – but the whole time I’ll be reminding you that you supported a more restrictive version for your own team when it suited you.

    • Eddie 1.1

      I don’t think you read r0b’s post. And I don’t think you understand the issue.

      If you’re against this new law it’s for the opposite reasons that some the Left might have concerns about it. This is essentially the EFA with higher (too high) limits and a too-short campaign period.

      • burt 1.1.1

        I did read rOb’s post, especially this bit where he was talking about Labour supporters;

        “if we the people remember how expediently they change their tune when it suits them,”

    • lprent 1.2

      I’m not going to fight it. I don’t think that r0b will either. Perhaps you should read his last paragraph again (actually just keep reading it for a while to up the skull penetration).

      It is pretty much the same as the old law with the higher spending limits that the Nats want. I can live with the new EFA limits even if I think that they’re too high. Restrictions on people with money attempting to buy elections is a sensible idea.

      The only thing that I find irritating is the loss of the longer election period. The 2005 election showed us that the effective election period is a damn sight longer than 6 months. 2008 was pretty much the same at more than 10 months.

      • r0b 1.2.1

        Eddie, lprent, when it comes to politics I don’t think that burt has ever understood anything that he didn’t read on Kiwiblog first. Thus like DPF he is stuck (forever?) in 2008 propaganda, while outside the bubble the Nats have moved on…

        • burt


          So since I don’t understand anything other than what I read on Kiwiblog perhaps you could clarify for me where you stand today;

          Do you, like before the 2008 election, support the EFA?
          Do you, like after the 2008 election, want to see it scrapped ?

          Is it good law, bad law or are you waiting for the talking points to be issued so you know where you stand ?

          • r0b

            Do you, like before the 2008 election, support the EFA?

            Yes. The new EFA (like the old EFA) is far from perfect, but it’s OK. There need to be limits to the kind of tactics that the Nats used in 2005 (when the public reaction subsequently forced the resignation of their leader Don Brash). So, I’m not a legal / constitutional expert, and I await the analysis of those who are, but in the mean time I support the new EFA, warts and all.

            Do you, like after the 2008 election, want to see it scrapped ?

            No, I want to see it refined.

            Is it good law, bad law or are you waiting for the talking points to be issued so you know where you stand ?

            It appears to be adequate law, and I’m waiting for proper analysis by experts. You should try that open mind burt, instead of coming here vomiting Kiwiblog 2008 all the time.

          • lprent

            Want to point out where r0b said that he wanted a EFA scrapped?

            What I’ll bet you find is somewhere where he said it was a political problem for Labour, while still supporting the idea. But I can see how that subtle a distinction might confuse your synapses.

            Update: I see that r0b has already answered. Pretty much what I was thinking. It will be interesting to see how many procedural loopholes there are in it. The 1993 act was pretty damn awful for those.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.2.2

        I think the loss of the longer election period is all that National really wanted. They’ll start their campaigning in January or February next year. They upped the limits that can be donated anonymously as having their benefactors hidden so that they can’t be held to account is also high on their wish list.

        • lprent

          Yeah I’m aware of that. The problem that they have is that it isn’t as pleasant an environment for them now that they’re in government. They have to campaign largely on their record and that is pretty shite.

          Somehow I don’t think that billboards attacking Labour will work this time, so the money side doesn’t help that much. Means that a lot of the campaigning has to be done with people, which is Nationals weakest point. Paid canvassers are pretty useless generally and they don’t have the tactical stuff to exploit the info. So they’re restricted to the MSM, blogs and whatever their MP’s do. All while trying to run a government.

          I’d expect that they’ll try the electoral bribery route, but the kitty is pretty damn empty.

  2. Oh the irony. Reading kiwiblog and that other blog that cannot be named for spam reasons is suddenly enjoyable.

    It seems to be dawning on the RWNJs that their government is not one of principle but one of carefully measured soundbite and pseudo anger at any issue they can raise a backlash over.

    • lprent 2.1

      Yeah, I’ll devote some of my limited post writing to add some salt to the wounds.

    • burt 2.2

      You will need to dance on the head of a pin to avoid painting yourself and your team as muppets lprent; good luck with that.

      • lprent 2.2.1

        I’ve been absolutely consistent. Having a EFA restricting money buying elections is a good idea.

        This bill is inadequate for the task, but so was the last one. I can live with any EFA that clearly defines the spending limits and election time periods. I’ll expend effort to make those limits more reasonable (ie smaller) and the election period longer to reflect reality.

        Both of those will improve democracy here. Your moronic ideas that you never seem to actually articulate won’t.

  3. Craig Glen Eden 3

    The disgrace is the hippocracy that you and the Nats show Burt.

    Did you read the post!

    Their should be limits on third party spending and thats what National have finally acknowledged, which is not what they were saying when they whipped up a whole lot of simple RWNJ into a frenzy about how this was anti democratic, turns out it wasn’t anti democratic. Get it Burt you were sucked in, National played you like a fiddle.

    • burt 3.1

      You missed a key point, I don’t think you can talk about the need for spending limits and support retrospective validations of misused tax payers money spent on electioneering, as rOb has done repeatedly. Well not without looking like a partisan hack.

      • bbfloyd 3.1.1

        which would make them sound like you burt.. albeit with a brain..

        • burt

          So filtering out the personal attack, you seem to be agreeing with me that claiming we need to limit uncontrolled spending on electioneering and supporting retrospective validations of an unknown amount of money over 14 years spent on electioneering – is an untenable position for a reasonable person.

          • Draco T Bastard

            You still going on about that burt? Sheesh, you’ve had it explained to you numerous times and you still refuse to listen. If it hadn’t been done then all the legislation and court decisions of the previous 14 years would have had to be rolled back because every single government in that time frame would have been illegal as they all used those funds that way.

            • burt

              Well Draco, if it hadn’t been for David Henry’s written warning that the pledge card spending would be deemed electioneering the Labour party might have had grounds to play the “rules were confusing”, “others were doing it too” card(s).

              They ignored the warning and got pulled up – they didn’t like being pulled up so they validated under urgency. Tell me again why the govt of the day should be allowed to decide how they intrepret the law rather than the courts.

              Sure it would have been problematic to deal with the arrogant self serving theft of tax payers money – but there is a reason why we have laws constraining uncontrolled govt spending in it’s own best interest… It’s kind of so we can say we are a democracy.

              • Draco T Bastard

                The written warning itself made it necessary to put the retrospective legislation through because it retrospectively made all those governments illegal. As I told you before – it wasn’t Labours fault that the AG changed the rules.

              • burt

                The AG changed the rules… The AG changed the rules… The AG changed the rules… The AG changed the rules… The AG changed the rules… The AG changed the rules… The AG changed the rules… The AG changed the rules… The AG changed the rules… The AG changed the rules… The AG changed the rules… The AG changed the rules… The AG changed the rules… The AG changed the rules… The AG changed the rules… The AG changed the rules… The AG changed the rules… The AG changed the rules… The AG changed the rules…

                I’m not believing it yet, how many times did you need to say it before you started thinking it was true?

                • lprent

                  Say it 14 times. From memory the AG’s audit annually… So that is the number of times that various AG’s could have looked at this issue..

                  You’ve said it too many times

  4. ianmac 4

    Does the “new” EFA prevent anyone from donating say $500,000 to the Waitamata (?) Trust who then pass it on to the National Party thus by-passing the limit?

  5. felix 5

    Poor burt. Getting all flustered about a post that isn’t there.

    Any comment on the one r0b actually wrote, burtie?

  6. OleOlebiscuitBarrell 6

    The big difference this time is that it was done with cross-party support. Labour’s bill was hastily and poorly drafted and allowed Labour’s detractors to believe that it was drafted to suit the government.

    • burt 6.1

      Passing it under urgency also helped create that perception.

      • mickysavage 6.1.1

        It was not passed under urgency. It went through a full select committee process.

        And because Labour is being responsible and National was not makes it right this time and wrong last time?

        • burt

          Are you sure it wasn’t passed under urgency ? Perhaps you should check that.

          • Draco T Bastard

            The third reading was passed under urgency so that it could be in place by the beginning of the election period. The first two readings went through all the proper process.

          • burt

            Close, there was no second round of consultation and there were litterally hundreds of amendments rushed through for the final reading that was passed under urgency.

            Hardly proper process….

            • RedLogix

              Frack…you don’t want to see a list of legislation passed under urgency by this NACT govt then do you?

              • burt

                Yes I do actually. Urgency for the benefit of getting something rammed through is always a concern. Sure emergencies are sometimes real but impending xmas holidays are not justification for passing constitutional level changes in a hurry – by either/any team.

  7. Hamish Gray 7

    Wait so the Nats are going to pursue a law that you support, Rob, and instead of congratulating them you go for the “look they can’t be trusted, they change their mind on a dime” angle? Wow, real constructive stuff – even when they do something you like, you’re so blinkered that you can’t acknowledge it. Even DPF, as much of a spinmeister as he is, has the courtesy of posting when he agrees/sympathises with the Left’s position on something.

    [lprent: You look like you’re getting perilously close to trying to put words in an authors writing. I ban for that because I regard it as a type of trolling. Argue about what is in the post – don’t make crap up. If you want to push your own argument, then use OpenMike where I’m more lenient. ]

    • r0b 7.1

      even when they do something you like, you’re so blinkered that you can’t acknowledge it

      Blah blah blah. Try actually reading the post Hamish.

      • Craig Glen Eden 7.1.1

        I dont think Hamish and Burt can comprehend, they read but have no understanding of what they read. This trait is often seen by teachers with Kids who read a book but ask them why things happened in the story or what happened next, total blank response ah ah. Reading level age 12 comprehension level 8 year old.

  8. SHG 8

    I lambasted Labour and the Greens for the EFA back in 08. I decided to vote National in the last election almost solely because of the EFA and Labour’s justifications for it.

    So today I’m feeling rather silly.

    Did I say silly?


    • r0b 8.1

      There is a lot like you on the right wing blogs I’m sure.

      Sorry, but I think you’ve all been used in a cynical propaganda exercise that the Nats themselves never believed. Yeah, I’d be angry too.

      Keeping that in mind, why not go back and re-evaluate Labour’s record objectively when it comes time to vote again in 2011.

  9. ak 9

    My God this is hilarious. After rising from the floor solely on the back of Brash’s racism – only to receive F&S Mk II for all their faux-sincere shrieking – and then two whole years of grinning along under an inane and incompetent smack-ban”Labour-lite” before finally having the most obscenely contrived instance of their very own hysteria-mongering thrust back in their faces, our erstwhile tory moronity is now genuinely outraged!

    Puts Monty Python way in the shade – talk about bring on the clowns, look- there’s even wee burt with his retrospectively validateds!! Come on Slater, gis some porn with Grinny’s head on it, go on granny, wheel out the Lenin pix!

    It’s our new export opportunity: comedy – with our very own Bush impersonator. These from just the last few days:
    Sometimes winning is losing, and this is one of those
    Nothing’s changed in NZ; actually we think it’s better
    I think they voted with their feet on Saturday…..they voted for the National Government

    The Farce of the South Pacific.

  10. Tanz 10

    This site should embrace National and it’s undemocratic, lying, BS policies, yes, some of us voted National and we got Labour, except with a grinning idiot up front. National/Labour, no bloody difference. What a pack of blue-blooded liers. Giving the finger to the public once again. No wonder people in general are either cynical or not interested in NZ (corrupt) poliircs, eh what.

    • Colonial Viper 10.1

      The grinning idiot upfront has a very short political life expectancy.

      • Tanz 10.1.1

        Hope so. Such dishonesty. Where is the Herald on this one. Come on, granny. Can we have Helen back now? All is forgiven.

        • felix

          Nah, you don’t want her back. Don’t you remember? She was a childless lesbian who wanted to ban showers. Or something.

          That’s why you wanted a change, right? You get that 50 bucks a week?

          • Tanz

            How judgmental. She is married, so how could she be a lesbian. I don’t care about her being childless, that’s her choice, but I do care about childless people telling parents how best to raise their kids, especially when most parents do their utmost to be good parents. The real child abuse meanwhile carries on, pretty much unabated, and often unreported, royal weddings are given much more importance and coverage, gossip, etc.

            Bill English is more a carbon copy of Clark, Key is just a smiling poster boy who loves and craves the media attention. Oh well, we’re stuck with him for some time yet…unless Goff can pull a rabbit out of a magic hat…Key has lots of luck, I reckon.

            • Pascal's bookie

              “She is married, so how could she be a lesbian.”

              Why dontcha ask your mate Wishart?

              • Tanz

                So, you do read his books, then? I try to take a fair point of view, from both sides of the fence.

                • Pascal's bookie

                  I’ve read plenty of his work, but what’s that got to with anything?

                  • Tanz

                    Because you mentioned his name. At least I know you’ve read his books, before judging them and him, that’s all.

                    • felix

                      Who’s judging, Tanz?

                      Pb just implied that Wishart thinks Hulun is a lezza is all.

                      Which ain’t judging, ‘cos it’s just saying what Wishart says an that.

                • felix

                  Tanz are you single? I’d like to hook you up with my mate Brett Dale.

                  • Tanz

                    Yep, single, Like Queen Elizabeth 1, single.

                    • felix

                      What’s that mean, single and German? Single and into ruffles? I don’t know all the dating scene lingo – you want to meet my mate Brett or not?

                      I reckon you’d get on like a house fire, albeit a slowburning one.

    • Draco T Bastard 10.2

      What a pack of blue-blooded liers.

      I don’t know why you’re surprised – some of us have been saying for years that NACT are a bunch of psychopathic liars.

      National/Labour, no bloody difference.

      There’s a difference. Labour are no where near as right-wing as National nor as authoritarian.

      • lprent 10.2.1

        Half of the problem I suspect is that many of the people complaining about National now (and who voted for them at the last general election) weren’t old enough to savor the full hypocritical stench of a National government after the last time they gained the treasury benches. It was 20 years ago.

        Basically National will promise anything to get into power. They will then renege on all of the important things once in office.

        The easiest way to describe people surprised by this long established behavior is that they are born suckers. Time to suck up the experience and learn.

        Labour generally is somewhat better after winding up doing some of the same during the 80’s. At least they had a relevant reason, had a rather strong division inside the party fighting it (hard to see any shame amongst the Nats), and eventually exported the people who thought that lying to the public to get elected was a good idea to Act.

        Helen largely achieved or tried to achieve what was in her pledge cards, and so will Phil. National doesn’t even really try unless it is so minor that it is irrelevant.

        • Tanz

          Or that will get Key a front-page photo op. Oh, the angst! This govt is wasting their time in office being really dumb. Yes, I feel pretty silly too, you just can’t trust the Nats. This is worse than the Shipley years, because she had least had gumption. I hope that National sink in the polls. Perhaps the PM will chose early retirement, maybe he’s tired of it all, because this is strange stuff, indeed. Drats.!

        • felix

          Yep Lynn, I’ve noted that too. If you were under 30 in 2008 you hadn’t really seen much of National in power as a voting age adult.

          You can also add to that a large group of people who have immigrated to NZ during the last 10 years or so.

          It adds up to a decent chunk of voters who, politically speaking, were simply born yesterday.

        • Rex Widerstrom

          The easiest way to describe people surprised by this long established behavior is that they are born suckers. Time to suck up the experience and learn.

          Or born in the 80s (when they’d have been shielded from most of it by childhood) or even the 90s.

          These people can’t help when they were born, and thus their complete lack of historical reference or perspective.

          The problem arises when their very youthfulness is what gets them hired as news reporters and presenters, promoted immediately to the Gallery, and unsupervised by anyone who didn’t grow up surgically attached to a game console.

          I learned a hell of a lot about what Labour was, could and should be like by listening at length to a man who used to write speeches for Peter Fraser and Walter Nash. I learned a lot about politics and how to report it from reporters who’d covered Holyoake onwards when I started out a decade later, after observing politics closely since Marshall and then dabbling in part time reporting. And I still floundered for context and some wisdom to impart for around another ten years.

          You don’t know what you don’t know, as they say. And there’s no shame in that… unless others are reliant upon you to tell them what they don’t know.

  11. The party itself is much more “pragmatic”, and has dropped that posturing like a hot rock, the same way they dropped their Iwi/Kiwi racist tactics and their reluctance to deal with Winston Peters. While I applaud the more pragmatic perspective on the responsibilities of government, I abhor the cynical propaganda that got them there.

    Try as I might, I can’t find a thesaurus anywhere that shows “pragmatic” as being interchangeable with “unprincipled”, “gutless” and “willing to do anything to regain or retain power”.

    Perhaps I’ll go look under “Quislings”…

    • r0b 11.1

      The “scare quotes” help with the translation…

      • I was referencing the second, unquoted, use of the term. But I know we disagree on this r0b as we’ve had the debate before. You, along with many others, seem to see reversal of fundamental principle and dealing with abhorrent political forces as pragmatic governance. I see it as a total lack of integrity.

        Because I happen to believe that many of the National MPs who spoke against the original EFA (DPF has somne examples here) believed what they were saying and still believe it. But they’ll allow their vote in favour of EFA Mk II to be cast in favour, like good little troopers, so as not to interfere with their personal preferment.

        I accept there are perfectly logical reasons for supporting the provisions of the EFA. What I don’t accept, however, is opposing something yet voting for it.

        Yes, it’s virtually the basis of party politics and “stable” government. It is not, however, good government because it is inevitably a tyranny of the minority (usually the Executive, or more commonly nowadays a select subset thereof). That is the very anithesis of the operation of a Parliamentary democracy, and we need to keep reminding ourselves that when praising compromise, pragmatism, or any other terms used (inaccurately, IMO) to describe the process.

        • r0b

          You, along with many others, seem to see reversal of fundamental principle and dealing with abhorrent political forces as pragmatic governance. I see it as a total lack of integrity.

          It is both. But the sin arises not from being pragmatic now, but from the original sin of the hysterical attacks in 2008.

        • Pascal's bookie

          I happen to believe that many of the National MPs who spoke against the original EFA (DPF has somne examples here) believed what they were saying and still believe it

          But why believe that they were being honest back then. I think, and thought back then, that were being as precisely honest about this as they were being about:

          shower heads,
          Maaaaris stopping good kiwi battlers having barbies on the beach,
          ‘Communism by stealth’,
          ‘breeding for a business’,
          the sanctity of marriage,

          …all of which got cranked up to 11, and all of which was cynical bullshit. So why would you think they meant their allegedly heart felt rhetoric on the EFA when the rhetoric around the other issues was just as strident?

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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • David Parker congratulates New Year 2021 Honours recipients
    Attorney-General and Minister for the Environment David Parker has congratulated two retired judges who have had their contributions to the country and their communities recognised in the New Year 2021 Honours list. The Hon Tony Randerson QC has been appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Year’s Honours highlights outstanding Pacific leadership through challenging year
    Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio says the New Year’s Honours List 2021 highlights again the outstanding contribution made by Pacific people across Aotearoa. “We are acknowledging the work of 13 Pacific leaders in the New Year’s Honours, representing a number of sectors including health, education, community, sports, the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Supporting seniors to embrace technology
    The Government’s investment in digital literacy training for seniors has led to more than 250 people participating so far, helping them stay connected. “COVID-19 has meant older New Zealanders are showing more interest in learning how to use technology like Zoom and Skype so they can to keep in touch ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Additional COVID-19 tests for returnees from higher risk countries
    New virus variants and ongoing high rates of diseases in some countries prompt additional border protections Extra (day zero or day one) test to be in place this week New ways of reducing risk before people embark on travel being investigated, including pre-departure testing for people leaving the United Kingdom ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago