National’s campaign to muzzle union continues

Written By: - Date published: 4:14 pm, May 21st, 2008 - 138 comments
Categories: dpf, election funding, same old national - Tags: , , ,

It seems National has succeeded in the first step of its campaign to muzzle the EPMU and the fifty thousand workers it represents. Over at the bog our mate Davey is crowing about the high court win that recognises the union as a legal person for the purposes of the act. This still means that the Electoral Commission has to decide whether the union is sufficiently involved in the affairs of the Labour Party to be precluded from third-party registration or not but it certainly weakens their case.

There is going to be a lot of gloating from the right over this, but let’s be clear. Crown Law advice was that the EPMU was not a person and it’s clear as day that the EFA was never intended to exclude democratic organisations such as the EPMU from campaigning. This is a weak point of the law that has failed under heavy (and expensive) legal attack by National and it needs to be fixed.

National has repeatedly stated that it does not want the EPMU excluded from its democratic right to campaign for the rights of its members but just wanted to test the law. Given the fact that the EPMU has run aggressive and successful campaigns against National in the past, I don’t think that’s true. But if it is then I would say National better put its money where its mouth is and support an amendment to clear this issue up. I’m not holding my breath on that one.

In the meantime we’ll all just have to wait for the Electoral Commission’s decision.

138 comments on “National’s campaign to muzzle union continues”

  1. And it is Nationals fault that Labour wrote and past bad law ? Yeah right!!!

  2. mike 2

    So “common sense” didn’t prevail then.

  3. But Labour designed and sponsored the Bill.

    Either the EFA is doing what its supposed to or the Bill is so flawed that even opponents of it can use it against the Govt.

    IrishBill, your soooo lame.

  4. Matthew Pilott 4

    Hoolian, I think you’ll find many people agree parts of the law were poorly written.

    There is a fair bit of daylight between your two very simplistic standpoints.

    Do you support National’s effort to try and muzzle a 50,000 strong democratic organisation?

    mike – ‘fraid not. Pity it took a cynical court case to make the point though.

    Bryan – no one said that.

  5. Tane 5

    All law requires testing, and sometimes amending. National didn’t raise their concern that the EPMU could be muzzled and issue a press release offering to amend the law to make sure no unions were caught by it.

    Instead, they used a proxy to whinge to the Electoral Commission, then when he failed used the vast resources of their big business backers to silence 50,000 New Zealand workers. Even after this decision I’m yet to see National offer to amend the law.

    Why would they do this? It wouldn’t have anything to do with National wanting to silence one of its strongest and most effective critics, would it? We all know work rights is one issue where National is very weak – look at Bill English tying himself in knots over National’s plans for workers on Agenda on Sunday.

    This whole thing stinks of National using its wealth and power to muzzle ordinary working New Zealanders. Those who defend National’s actions have shown where they really stand on democracy.

  6. Hoolian – it’s “you’re” not “your”. I’d say that someone so retarded they can’t even understand writing is probably not going to grasp the subtleties of a legal argument.

    Mike – no common sense didn’t prevail. National’s team of high priced lawyers prevailed. Now that’s what I call democracy.

    Bryan – the 1993 electoral act was just as bad but it didn’t have a cynical oppositions throwing vast wads of cash into attacking its every minor flaw.

  7. I heard on the radio in passing that Davies friends the Sensible Sentacing Trust and Family Fist are also co complainants? any substance to this?

  8. milo 8

    This is what happens when you ram through partisan legislation in the face of massive criticism and opposition. “Full speed ahead and damn the torpedos” sometimes leads to bad consequences, you know.

    I even commented on this blog, before the EFA was passed, that the bill would be turned against its sponsors, and that you should be ready for election-year lawsuits.

    It gives me little joy to be proved right. This is a bad law.

  9. “It seems National has succeeded in the first step of its campaign to muzzle the EPMU and the fifty thousand workers it represents.” Surely it is the Electoral Finance Act that is muzzling the EPMU ? Unless you are saying the High Court is somehow in the pocket of the National Party ?

  10. Tane 10

    I heard on the radio in passing that Davies friends the Sensible Sentacing Trust and Family Fist are also co complainants? any substance to this?

    I understand they’re party to John Boscawen’s claim that the EFA breaches the Bill of Rights.

  11. It gives me little joy to be proved right. This is a bad law.

    The last one was just as badly written but it wasn’t put up at a time there was a well oiled, well funded and viciously cynical opposition campaign machine running.

  12. Tane 12

    This is what happens when you ram through partisan legislation in the face of massive criticism and opposition.

    Possibly. More likely it’s what happens when you pass legislation stopping National from rorting election campaigns with big money.

    I even commented on this blog, before the EFA was passed, that the bill would be turned against its sponsors, and that you should be ready for election-year lawsuits.

    So did this blog. National has a lot of money but no way to spend it. What better way than buying high-priced lawyers to gag your opponents and score some free PR points? Bear in mind as well that Labour and its Parliamentary allies passed the EFA – the unions potentially affected by this didn’t.

  13. Tane: “Labour and its Parliamentary allies passed the EFA – the unions potentially affected by this didn’t.” Surely Labour and the Unions are so closely entangled they are effectively the same thing ?

  14. Their voice isn’t silenced, they can stand on the street corner just like anyone else, just their right to buy $120,000 of speech in one big lot.

    Where have I heard those arguments before, that’s right from here on why the much vaunted law was going to stop the eviiiiiil Brethren from saying anything again.

    Face facts fools, it isn’t about free speech it is about compliance with YOUR law. You guys supported, you campaigned for and your sponsor-party put it through with the barest majority possible.

    Suck it boys, suck it up, there is more hurt to come.

    [Tane: Whale, so thick you have to misrepresent arguments to make your point. No one who supported the bill said organisations should be forbidden to spend money campaigning, or restricted to anywhere near as low as $12,000.]

  15. Surely Labour and the Unions are so closely entangled they are effectively the same thing ?

    We’ll have to wait for the Electoral Commission to decide that. Just as an aside Bryan, have you noticed what I did to your site yet?

  16. Tane 16

    Surely Labour and the Unions are so closely entangled they are effectively the same thing ?

    You obviously don’t know a lot about Labour or unions. Farrar is playing on your ignorance – try to have some self-respect.

  17. Nick C 17

    “Do you support National?s effort to try and muzzle a 50,000 strong democratic organisation?”

    “What better way than buying high-priced lawyers to gag your opponents and score some free PR points?”

    Thats just such a stupid way to frame the arguement. Clearly national has every right and a responcibility to ensure that the law is being applied properly to all participants, no matter how many members they have. The fact that the law labour wrote is so crap only makes your position so much more shakey. The real question here is whether the high court made the correct desision.

    [Tane: Interestingly though, they’re only targeting their critics, and one of their most effective ones at that. Where’s National’s test case against the Free Speech Coalition or Sensible Sentencing?]

  18. [a_y_b: Woah there Sod. Deleted.]

  19. Hoolian 19

    Hoolian – it’s “you’re’ not “your’. I’d say that someone so retarded they can’t even understand writing is probably not going to grasp the subtleties of a legal argument.

    Dude, take a chill pill. Whoops, a tiny, small discrepancy but it doesn’t change a thing of what I said. To be frank, I don’t expect someone who insults people over grammar to be much of a legal expert either.

    Possibly. More likely it’s what happens when you pass legislation stopping National from rorting election campaigns with big money.

    And look it stopped Labour playing with big money too! Neat, huh?

    Surely Labour and the Unions are so closely entangled they are effectively the same thing ?

    Why yes, if you want to be a member of EPMU then you are automatically a member of the Labour Party which is retarded. Its like saying if you want to run a business then you must be part of ACT, or if you want to grow organic carrots, then a membership to the Greens is expected. Absurd! But what else can we expect?

  20. erikter 20

    “This whole thing stinks of National using its wealth and power to muzzle ordinary working New Zealanders.”

    Tane, could you please stop being disingenuous?

    The EFA was and is a bad piece of legislation. The High Court has ruled and it’s now the Electoral Commission’s turn to review its initial decision.

    The fact that the National Party was the complainant does not alter the fact that the same law written, sponsored and rammed through Parliament by the Labour Party is now being used to shut the EPMU’s voice.

    A dismal legislative failure of this socialist government.

  21. Lew 21

    This blow to the EPMU pains me, but it’s a government own-goal. If you pass law, you need to be prepared to live with it. The blame rightly lies at the feet of those who drafted the EFA. The EPMU should be furious about this one, at the government for drafting weak law, not at National for exploiting its weakness.

    That said, I think the question of whether the EPMU is materially involved in the running of the Labour party is self-evident, and the Electoral Commission should find in their favour and name them a third party.

    L

  22. Matthew Pilott 22

    Nick C, it’s not a poor way to frame a question just because you don’t like the implications. As explained above, there are numerous other avenues to ensure the law is correct. The avenue National chose was to muzzle a 50,000 strong democratic organisation.

    If you don’t like the question, perhaps you should reconsider what you think of the people that made me ask it.

    Do you support national’s attempt to muzzle a 50,000 strong democratic organisation? Or perhaps do you think they sould have pursued another method for ensuring the electoral law was correct?

    I’ll put it to you this way: Do you think National would have taken the same court case against the Business Round Table, if the other circumstances were the same?

  23. Lew 23

    Matthew Pilott: I expect Labour might have. And they’d have been entitled to do so.

    L

  24. Nick C 24

    “Possibly. More likely it’s what happens when you pass legislation stopping National from rorting election campaigns with big money.”

    Thats a seperate arguement altogether, but what you did there was suggest that its ok that for the law to be poorly written, confused and have many unintended side effects so long as it clamps down on your political opponents. Well done Stalin.

  25. Why yes, if you want to be a member of EPMU then you are automatically a member of the Labour Party which is retarded

    Um no what’s retarded is getting shit like this wrong. If you are a member of the EPMU (or any affiliate) you can be a member of the Labour party if you chose to be and pay no party membership. I should know because I used to be an EPMU member.

    erik – sorry bro but there is a lot of legislation that has weaknesses in it and there always has been and most of it works just fine because nobody spend tens of thousands of dollars challenging it. If National had not spent big money putting strain on this clause the intention of the act would still be intact.

  26. Tane 26

    And look it stopped Labour playing with big money too! Neat, huh?

    What big money? And how is it Labour’s? National has merely silenced a democratic organisation from campaigning for the rights of its members.

    Why yes, if you want to be a member of EPMU then you are automatically a member of the Labour Party which is retarded.

    Again, so ill-informed. Members of affiliate unions are entitled to the benefits of Labour membership if they wish. They are not members of the Labour Party.

    Nor is it ‘retarded’ or ‘absurd’. Read up on the history of the party and why it exists in the first place. Here’s a hint: it’s in the name.

    Tane, could you please stop being disingenuous?

    Except that National does have motivation to muzzle the EPMU and that’s, funny enough, the very organisation it decides to target. Why is that?

    [captcha: ‘critical Pierson’, I kid you not]

  27. randal 27

    I think the EPMU will have found the correct response by the time of the election. anyway they unlike the National Party and the EB’s were never involved in anonymous campaigns to buy elections

  28. Confusion reigns.
    Remind me again who it was that drafted and introduced the applicable law that caused this muzzling of the epmu.
    I Have immense respect for you guys at the standard. Fighting to the last man under insurmountable odds.
    A modern day Custers last stand. This entire debacle had it’s genesis in Heather Simpsons bullying of parliamentary services to approve the labour party’s plundering of the public purse.
    The end game has begun.
    I look forward to the day that the incoming government ends forever the dodgy money go round between the government and the unions.
    And on a different note we may have reached the terrible milestone of 2000 announced redundancies for the month today.
    Perhaps we can all hope that todays decision will hasten the day that Phill Goff and Andrew Little can work together to restore labour to the point where our parents and grandparents (who all voted Labour) will stop spinning in their graves at what Helen and Heather have done to what was the workers party rather than it’s current incarnation as the party workers party.
    CAPTCHA survived mrs

  29. Tane 29

    The EPMU should be furious about this one, at the government for drafting weak law, not at National for exploiting its weakness.

    Lew, all law can be challenged on interpretation. National saw what they thought was a loophole that would let them silence their opposition and went to town with high-priced lawyers. If they really cared about free speech National would have raised the issue and offered to amend the legislation. Instead they chose to try and silence their opponents and take great pleasure in doing so. Why do you think that is?

  30. Nick C 30

    “I’ll put it to you this way: Do you think National would have taken the same court case against the Business Round Table, if the other circumstances were the same?”

    Interesting hypothetical. Firstly the BRT has no involvement whatsoever with any party on an admin level.

    Secondly I dont think so, because Labour would beat them to it. And they would have every right to. Theres nothing wrong with taking someone to court in order to apply a law, so long as you have a case. Clearly the high court decided National did.

  31. Yes I am sure they would take such action unfortunately though the President of the BRT isn’t a candidate for National or any other party, none of the members of the executive of the BRT sit on any branch, board or decision making team of the National Party. Given that I would suspect such a legal action would be considered vexatious and fivilouos but the court.

    Now about the EPMU and Labour….well join the dots

    President is candidate
    EPMU is affliate
    Nat Sec on board of party
    50,000 members also members by affliation of Labour…..hmmmm wonder where that will go

  32. sean14 32

    Tane –

    Even after this decision I’m yet to see National offer to amend the law.

    The government didn’t need National to pass the law, surely it doesn’t need it to amend the law?

    This whole thing stinks of National using its wealth and power to muzzle ordinary working New Zealanders.

    Are you saying that the High Court is in the pocket of the National Party?

    It beggars belief that you object to the law of the land, as passed by the government of the day, being enforced by the courts. The Standard? More like no standards.

  33. And on another note. How many of us are getting heartily sick of the poster who calls himself LEW being so smart. Every time he posts my brain grows a little bit. Lew please stop being smart and right about everything, you are adding gravitas and respectability to a blog that does not deserve it.

    [lprent: now that is a really smart back-handed compliment. See – Lew’s treatment is working already.]

  34. Nick C 34

    “If they really cared about free speech National would have raised the issue and offered to amend the legislation. Instead they chose to try and silence their opponents and take great pleasure in doing so. Why do you think that is?”

    I think you are applying a double standard to national that you would never in a million years apply to Labour. National tried to make dozens of ammendments to the EFA but they were all turned down stupid. Would you really exepect Labour to do that if the sides were flipped? No, you would be furious.

  35. Tane: “We know that there is much still to do and that the party and the CTU have a range of new policies we want to see actioned this year and in the next Parliamentary term.” http://union.org.nz/policy

  36. Lew 36

    Tane: I agree that National’s actions aren’t charitable here – but why should they be? The EFA was passed despite much wailing and gnashing of teeth by National, and widespread predictions of just this sort of thing happening.

    Perhaps if the government had compromised and made some significant amendments in response to National’s wishes they could have expected National to `go easy’ on them in the courts. They didn’t and now they (and unfortunately the EPMU, who are the innocent party in this all) are paying the price. A prudent government would have made certain this wasn’t possible. Crown Law seem to have dropped the ball on this one.

    I do agree it’s bad, and there’s a black irony to it, but it’s surely not unexpected.

    L

    Captcha: `cocktail scout’. Hooray!

  37. Hey Cameron. When you tried to rip off the tax payer and your other creditors did your dad bail you out? It’s just it looks like the liquidator never followed up on a pretty clear-cut case so I’m assuming you settled. Oh and how are things with the Staples?

  38. Tane 38

    The government didn’t need National to pass the law, surely it doesn’t need it to amend the law?

    No, National opposed it tooth and nail, on the face of it because of their dislike of its drafting, but more substantively because it meant they could no longer buy elections with the ease they used to.

    And of course, they’re not going to offer an amendment. But they’ll sure raise hell as soon as Labour or the Greens try to do so themselves.

    Are you saying that the High Court is in the pocket of the National Party?

    No, I’m pointing out that the National Party’s motives in this case are not pure – in an election year they are trying to silence some of their opponents on a issue where they are weak. They have chosen deliberately to take this course of action when there were others available. Now we have the Orwellian prospect of a party claiming it’s saving free speech by crushing it.

  39. Tane 39

    Bryan: Yes, the CTU works with the Labour Party, just as a range of community and business organisations do. And it’s not even affiliated. In any case, so what?

  40. Tane 40

    The EFA was passed despite much wailing and gnashing of teeth by National, and widespread predictions of just this sort of thing happening.

    Except that it’s actually the National Party doing this, not some abstract agent they’d predicted might get litigious. They’re not sitting back laughing, they’re actually doing it, and to an innocent party at that.

    I’m not sure how National or anyone else can defend muzzling free speech in the name of protecting free speech when numerous other options were open to them.

  41. Ali 41

    And you’re claiming that national is trying to muzzle free speech?! How outrageous! Who passed the efa again?

  42. Nick C 42

    Tane 2 points:

    Firstly you missed the point on your first responce, clearly the question is whether National has some sort of obligation to offer an ammendment to the law, rather then take Labour to court. Of course not, National are not the govt (although they will be on the latest poll numbers), its not their job to make laws! Why should national show mercy to Labour and change the few parts of the law that disadvantage them, letting them off the hook when that same law is spesifically designed to crush national?

    Secondly what are the alternatives (other then changing the law)? Its Labour who crushed free speech by making this law. When it is said that North Korea has no free speech do we blame the leaders like Kim Jong Il who make the law, or the army who follow it? Of course its the law makers who we blame.

  43. Scribe 43

    Tane,

    Yep, this is outrageous. A court of law interpreting legislation!!! Call the UN.

    If Labour had taken a case against the Business Roundtable or — gasp — the Exclusive Brethren and there had been the same result, this would have been legislation working as designed. Because it’s the other way around, it’s an absolute travesty of justice.

  44. higherstandard 44

    I can’t believe you chaps didn’t see this coming after the number of commentators who have repeatedly pointed out that this was hastily put together poorly conceived legislation

  45. randal 45

    by your logic nic c the National Party would be right at home in north korea. serioulsy the EPMU is not going to resile from anything and according to Andrew Little on the news just now they intend to carry out the campaign on workers rights they had already planned right up to the election. good on them. workers rights left up to national means no rights as all.

  46. HS – I repeat this: there is a lot of legislation that has weaknesses in it and there always has been and most of it works just fine because nobody spend tens of thousands of dollars challenging it. If National had not spent big money putting strain on this clause the intention of the act would still be intact.

    The thing is bro, legislation is an attempt to taxonomise the infinite possibilities of the real world. The reason most law works is there is a consensus based around the spirit of the law. National has done all it can and spent a lot of money to attack that model for political ends. This will come back to bite them.

  47. Scribe 47

    higherstandard,

    I can’t believe you chaps didn’t see this coming after the number of commentators who have repeatedly pointed out that this was hastily put together poorly conceived legislation

    Heck, National warned them too, but Labour kept talking about how “the law of common sense” would apply. The law of the law has been applied.

    The irony that National didn’t want this law, then Labour forced it on the country, and now Labour suffers the consequences, is delicious.

    Robinsod,

    This will come back to bite them.

    I doubt that. Have a nice evening.

  48. higherstandard 48

    Yes RS

    National is exploiting the flaws in the law for their own political purposes just as Labour passed the legislation for their own political purposes in the first place – such as punishing the exclusive bretheren and also to tilt things in their own favour during election year.

    And I agree the reason most law works is there is a consensus based around the spirit of the law – in this case there never was and there never will be.

  49. Rex Widerstrom 49

    Of course National’s hands aren’t entirely clean, and there are probably some within the party who would be delighted if the EPMU were actually silenced as a result of this. Whoever they are, they’re as much enemies of free speech as the people who drafted, defended and voted for this iniquitous piece of legislation. Sad to say, some of those people I once counted as friends and a handful I used to admire.

    But there are no doubt others within National who are simply taking great delight in the fact that the end result of all of this may be that Labour is faced with a choice between sacrificing the EPMU’s legitimate right to political engagement or repealing this travesty; between the rights of a union becoming “collateral damage” in their attempts to muzzle opposition, or an embarrassing back-down.

    Labour and its allies should real this law fortwith and replace it with a simple piece of legislation requiring full disclosure. That’s all that’s needed, because the NZ populace aren’t stupid. I don’t care how much money you throw at me, I couldn’t devise a political campaign that convinced enough of them to back something that was fundamentally against their best interests, particularly if they knew who was paying for it… and I doubt anyone else could, either.

    To go beyond disclosure and try to cherry pick who can spend what to say what about whom invites just this sort of mess. The proponents of this law (who, as Tane points out, wasn’t just Labour but didn’t include the unions) are reaping what they’ve sown, so a degree of schedenfreude amongst those of us who opposed it from the outset, while not perhaps our finest moment, is at least understandable.

  50. Nick C 50

    Randal I was merely trying to prove with that analogy that Labour, being the people who made this law are the ones obstructing free speech, not the people who applied the law in the high court.

    I absolutely support the EPMU’s right to campaign on workers rights. Perhaps you should ask yourself this: which of the two main parties passed the law that is now obstructing the EMPU’s right to campaign? National is merely trying to ensure that the law is applied consitently and fully.

  51. Daveski 51

    Talk about LMAO.

    The courts are wrong.

    DPF is wrong.

    The Nats are wrong.

    Isn’t is strange that everyone is wrong EXCEPT for Labour and the law?

    Why doesn’t someone come with the Labour’s Always Right Even When It’s Wrong Act … you’d have to be worried about the ability to draft it tho!

    Still LMAO

  52. higherstandard 52

    Rex W

    Perfect pragmatism.

    Labour and its allies should repeal this law fortwith and replace it with a simple piece of legislation requiring full disclosure.

    Agreed absolutely.

  53. AncientGeek 53

    hs: There never is in electoral law. There have always been challenges to it in the courts whenever it is changed.

    The only thing that is different this time is the 3rd party provisions being done before an election. Usually it is done after the election.

    But we’d expect the Nat’s to try to make side-issues the focus of the election campaign. Means that they don’t have to do anything substantive about policy. What was that old roman thing – to avoid politics amongst the masses, provide bread and circuses. The current equivalent is taxcuts and shallow soundbites.

    The act was always going to get challenged. But it is still good law. I’m sure that the Electoral Commission will uphold the EPMU’s right to become a 3rd party. I’m also sure that the Nats or someone will haul that decision back to court again.

    It is basically pointless amending the act until the legal battle subsides. The judges will show the way if any improvements are needed.

    BTW: Has anyone any idea when the EC will rule again?

  54. Nick C 54

    “The reason most law works is there is a consensus based around the spirit of the law.”

    We are talking about a law here that was passed for one reason: To hurt national. That is its only ‘spirit’.

    Perhaps National should follow the spirit of the law by hurting itself. But either way this is just Annette’s stupid “law of common sense” which is so flawed in another guise.

  55. AncientGeek 55

    NC:

    We are talking about a law here that was passed for one reason: To hurt national.

    Bullshit. If you don’t understand the issues that caused a majority in parliament to vote for the bill, then perhaps you should find out.

  56. higherstandard 56

    AG

    No don’t divert the issue the bill was designed by Labour for their own political purposes not out of the goodness of their heart and a sense of fair play.

  57. Shaneo 57

    Bad luck guys. You thought the EFA was next best thing since sliced bread. Well its not – it muzzles free speech and now the consequenses are yours to live with.

  58. AncientGeek 58

    hs: As far as I’m concerned the act was designed to fix the following flaws in the 1993 act (in my order of relevance with examples of each problem):-

    1. recognize that the MMP campaign period was longer than 90 days (nationals billboards)
    2. ensure that third parties had to register with the electoral commission if they wanted to campaign in the election. (brethren)
    3. tighten up on the use of electoral offices for campaigning (these had become much better funded because they’re effectively becoming social work offices of the final resort).
    4. deal with the accounting issues raised against all parties by the AG and EC after the 2005 election.
    5. tighten up on the accounting for party campaigns (several court cases since 1996 have shown parts of the act to be ambiguous on the electorate limits)

    The political parts of the bill largely got shed during select committee and inter-party negotiation.

    What is wrong with each of these? What would have you done for each of them?

  59. AncientGeek 59

    There are a number of other things I would have liked to have in there. For instance a requirement for parties to report their spending commitments on a month by month basis to the EC, including copies of the paperwork. The EC to provide these online for public scrutiny.

    Completely abolish blind trusts.

    etc..

  60. sweeetd 60

    Oh come on, the EFB is an ass. It was all about getting even with the EB’s.

    A simple ‘must disclose’ statment would have fixed all the problems with the EB’s ’05 campaign.

    Labour et al lost today due to a poor drafted bill rushed through at haste.

  61. KenS 61

    This is terrible news! I hope they change the law to exempt the uinions because I think unions wanted an exemption when the law was being considered.

    Here’s hoping Labour finds some way around this case to get the unions and workers’ voices out and heard. Without union help we are in real trouble.

  62. randal 62

    I dont want to be at Natoinal HQ on the night they lose the election!

  63. illuminatedtiger 63

    Question:

    Why can’t the Free Speech Coalition Trust be struck off as a third party in light of David Farrar’s connections to the National Party as both their pollster and operator of their blog?

  64. sweeetd 64

    AncientGeek, “Bullshit. If you don’t understand the issues that caused a majority in parliament to vote for the bill, then perhaps you should find out.”

    What, Labour and its patsys??!? This was and always has been about the EB’s, a private organistion, having the gall to oppose labour. That is what annoyed labour. Dress it up anyway you want AncientGeek, it still looks the same.

  65. higherstandard 65

    Randal if you’re dressed as you are in your atavar methinks you are more likely to be at Rainbow Labour HQ than at the Nats on election night.

    AG Think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this while I an sure each of your points was raised during the select committee briefings I’m still of the belief that the primary reason for the EFB was a vindictive one and that as Rex suggests as long as there is full disclosure about where the money’s coming from to pay for electioneering and there’s rules in place for how much everyone can spend who really cares

  66. burt 66

    Hands up all the people here who have defended the EFA, defended the partisan way it was drafted, defended the passing of it under urgency and defended it’s intentions to stop parallel campaigns?

    Now all of you with your hands up – wipe your noses and go to the front of the class, don’t take your books you’ll all be down the back again shortly once the EPMU are through abusing you for supporting this miserable piece of legislation simply because Labour created it. The short bus will be along soon to take you to the 9th floor for a debrief and communal tears in the coffee session.

    What really makes me laugh though is the way you apologists frame it – you supported it, you supported Labour passing it under urgency, you laughed at and ridiculed people opposing it and warning against it’s consequences and now you blame National & DPF for this outcome – who slapped you all with the I’m a victim stick?

  67. higherstandard 67

    sweetd

    From memory the EB had a go at the Greens as well as Labour as it was they pretty much f’d it up for National who without the ensuing shambles probably would have got in at the last election.

  68. burt 68

    higherstandard

    The EB also acted entirely within the law as it stood at the time – the same cannot be said for the muppets that drafted this ridiculous EFA.

  69. Sceptic 69

    The Electoral Commission next meets on June 12 so that will probably be when the EPMU matter is considered again.

    Illuminated tiger – In principle there is no reason why the Free Speech Coalition Trust couldn’t be struck off. You’d have to show that the Trust meets the test of “being involved in the administration of the affairs of the Party”. Farrar’s case relies on the fact that the EPMU as an affiliate is constitutionally recognised by the Labour Party Rules and that they have delegate rights on a number of committees because of that affiliate status. As far as I’m aware there isn’t anything in the National Party Constitution which recognises the Free Speech Coalition Trust nor provides them with any rights on National Party committees.

    Under your suggestion you’d also have to prove that kiwiblog is National’s blog – which may be quite difficult as all this is based on is repeated rhetoric on this blog and other such blogs.

    You’d also be suggesting that by acting as someone’s pollster (ie providing a service) you become involved in the administration of the affairs of a party. That would be a dangerous precedent as it would suggest that other service providers to political parties (their accountants, lawyers for example) would also be prevented from being a third party because they entered a contract to provide services to a political party.

  70. AncientGeek 70

    SD: The EB’s campaign was bad news alright. They did not do the correct attribution, yes.

    But worse was that they had no requirement to account for the money they spent campaigning during the campaign period, whereas all political parties did.

    Worse again, there was no requirement for them to show their sources of finance.

    Both of the latter showed up some terrible holes in the 1993 Act.

    Similarly, the National party ran most of their spending outside the campaign period in their billboard campaign starting in April 2005. None of that was required under the 1993 Act to be publicly transparent. Yet it was clearly campaigning and cost a bomb, and violated the intent of the 1993 Act – read the intents at the start of the act.

    Similarly most parties ran blind trusts, especially the Nat’s, so the sources of finance for the election campaign were deliberately hidden. Again this violates the intent of the 1993 act.

    As I said – if you don’t understand the issues with the 1993 act, then you hardly understand the 2007 act either.

  71. burt 71

    AncientGeek

    Apparently all you need is a little common sense to understand the 2007 ACT – but tell that to Labour, Trevor Mallard and the EPMU and see what sort of reaction you get.

    Labour have squarely shot themselves in the foot trying to tilt the playing field in their favour, sadly that’s the state of it in a nutshell.

  72. higherstandard 72

    Regarding acting within the law true Burt very true

  73. Sceptic 73

    Also Ancient Geek – one of the main things in the Electoral Finance Act is the definition of election advertising in section 5. What constitutes election advertising is crucial because it decides whether or not your advertising is subject to the EFA. If your ads fall outside that definition then you’re generally not subject to it.

    Do you believe that this definition is a clear or good definition or do you agree with the Electoral Commission Chief Executive that “the definition of an election advertisement was still “a large grey area”” http://www.nzherald.co.nz/topic/story.cfm?c_id=286&objectid=10511422&pnum=2

    Having a definition crucial to EFA issues still very unclear 6 months into election year seems like a fairly crucial error on Labour’s behalf.

  74. Billy 74

    Similarly most parties ran blind trusts, especially the Nat’s, so the sources of finance for the election campaign were deliberately hidden. Again this violates the intent of the 1993 act.

    This does not violate the intent of the 1993 Act. The point was that anonymity was OK so long as it was anonymity from the party receiving the donation. It was an offence against that Act to disclose the identity of the anonymous donor. In fact, anonymity was a goal of the old legislation. Quite the reverse of how you represent it, AG.

  75. burt 75

    Sceptic

    You won’t get much traction on this blog using phrases like “crucial error on Labour’s behalf” – this is all DPF’s and National’s fault – If they had just hung up their campaign intentions and sat quietly waiting for Labour to spend millions of tax payers dollars then none of this would have happened. It’s not fair when Labour need to follow the laws they made for others – it’s got to be somebody else’s fault, the victim mentality of their supporters can’t exists in an environment of being responsible for their own predicament.

  76. illuminatedtiger 76

    Their pollster and party member.

  77. burt 77

    rOb

    If you are around, this is an interesting turn of events. I must say you did seem to have it nailed first time around but it appears that greater legal minds than your’s have had the final say.

    What now? Do you think the EPMU will continue with it’s planned campaign and Labour will simply count the EPMU spending in it’s own returns? – isn’t this what Labour said the EB & National should have done?

  78. Well, can’t say I have sympathy here for either the EPMU or the Labour Party. If they want to work with each other, well and dandy, but they can’t then claim they’re independent parties under the law.

  79. AncientGeek 79

    hs:

    Think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this while I an sure each of your points was raised during the select committee briefings

    They were as far as I’m aware. That is why there was sufficient support to pass the legislation.

    Sceptic:

    Do you believe that this definition is a clear or good definition or do you agree with the Electoral Commission Chief Executive that “the definition of an election advertisement was still “a large grey area’

    Good question – I don’t know. It wasn’t an area that I looked at because it didn’t really impact at ground level (where I campaign) last time. It is impacting this time, but it is mainly a matter of getting things labelled. The biggest hassle has been getting a definitive answer about exactly what has to be done. But that process is getting close to finishing now that the EC has made some rulings. It is a minor issue.

    The Electoral Commission next meets on June 12 so that will probably be when the EPMU matter is considered again.

    Ok. Assuming a month or two before the court hears it again (I’m assuming that it will be appealed again), then there should be time for the EPMU to get a decision and decide what they will do well before the election. There are several strategies I can think of off-hand.

    it: Skeptic is correct. The affiliated unions were always going to have the hardest time under this law. Thats why there will be a lot of interest in whatever judgment comes out of it. However that was an inevitable consequence of the law mets historic ties. That was always going to be an area that would have to be determined by the courts. Otherwise it left the door open for all sorts of interesting organizational schemes.

    Billy:

    In fact, anonymity was a goal of the old legislation. Quite the reverse of how you represent it, AG.

    Quite correct – I stand corrected.

    I think, and by the sound of it most people on this thread think, that was a bloody stupid idea. It was the thinnest of chinese walls because there was absolutely no way of enforcing the intent. All it took was a quiet word to tell someone that $x would be turning up, and the entire intent of the old act in that area was violated. Bloody hard to prove anything either. I dislike unenforceable laws.

  80. Billy 80

    And ‘sod and others, it is patent nonsense (or, as Joyce used to like saying, ballocks) to suggest that the fault lies with those challenging the law, rather than the law itself. To say that any law can be “cracked” if enough money is thrown at it is just stupid. Rich people have just as much or, in individual circumstances more, reason to break the Securities Act or the Crimes Act or the Property (Relationships) Act, but I do not notice those pieces of legislation “failing” (if that’s what you think it is) in the same way.

  81. Billy 81

    “It was the thinnest of chinese walls because there was absolutely no way of enforcing the intent.”

    I do not necessarily disagree, but the point is: anonymity was not only encouraged under the old law, it was a legal requirement.

  82. Harry 82

    Tane sez

    No, I’m pointing out that the National Party’s motives in this case are not pure – in an election year they are trying to silence some of their opponents on a issue where they are weak. They have chosen deliberately to take this course of action when there were others available. Now we have the Orwellian prospect of a party claiming it’s saving free speech by crushing it.

    Perhaps I should point out that the Labour Party’s motives in this case are not pure – in an election year they have passed legislation to try to silence some of their opponents on a issue where they are weak. They have chosen deliberately to take this course of action when there were others available. Now we have the Orwellian prospect of supports of this act claiming it’s saving free speech by crushing it.

  83. AncientGeek 83

    Harry: another one of those interesting myths. Figure out the timeline and figure when they could have done it.

    The act was designed to correct the problems that had shown up so strongly in the 2005 election.

    The AG’s final report was released in October 2006, and that required before the detail of the bill could be worked out. It had been openly foreshadowed during and after the election campaign of 2005. Hell – I was pushing for changes in mid-2005 because of the things that were happening. We started preparing to campaign at the start of 2005.

    October 2006 was also when Helen announced that it would be put forward in 2007 to be available for the 2008 election. One of the stated intents was to increase the electoral campaign period because 90 days wasn’t working under MMP.

    It was put to parliament in July after several drafts and work by the crown law office and had to be completed by December if it was to go into force for the changed campaign period.

    Given a 3 year election cycle and the limits – that was really all of the time that was available. Would you have preferred to have not had anything fixed in that bloody stupid 1993 kluge, bearing in mind what happened in 2005?

    If the nat’s want to change it, they’re going to have exactly the same constraints. The only reason that the 1993 Act didn’t was it had a full 2 years after the 1990 referendum, and 3 years before the next election. There was a lot of complaining that was too rushed as well (and it showed).

    Personally I’d like to see the electoral term raised to 4 and preferably 5 years. It seems reasonable bearing in mind what happens in coalition politics.

  84. Harry – I think that you’ve successfully pointed to the absurdity and irony of the law of unintended consequence. This law MUST have been poorly drafted when to date, the only people to have fallen foul of it were the ;party who proposed it, one of that party’s most experienced politicians, and the party’s most significant affiliate.

    Mind you, when the Minister responsible for the legislation says something like this:

    “Hon ANNETTE KING: No, the Minister of Finance has not sought my advice, any more than that member has sought my advice on some of the things that his members are doing in their electorates now. I think the best thing to do, for every member, whether a Minister or a member of Parliament, is go to where he or she can get proper advice, and it is certainly not from me.”

    … nothing would surprise!

  85. r0b 85

    Well, I seem to have missed all the excitement this evening! A bit to catch up on.

    Burt: I must say you did seem to have it nailed first time around but it appears that greater legal minds than your’s have had the final say.

    I am happy to be wrong in the good company of the Electoral Commission Burt. I have read the ruling in full, and learned a lot from it, the legal definition of “a person” turns out to be very complex. I was aware that this was the case in law in America (if you haven’t seen the film “The Corporation” then I highly recommend it), but it was interesting to see the relevant legislation in NZ explained.

    The ruling as it stands is just that the EPMU must be considered as “a person” in the context of the EFA 13 (2) (f). That’s it, no more. It says nothing about whether the EPMU can register as a third party, that is again a matter for the EC. To me it seems likely that the EC will conclude that the EPMU cannot register as it is involved in the administration of the Labour Party.

    Then we will be in a very interesting situation. Everyone (even Hooton!) seems to agree that the EPMU should be allowed to register and spend on political advertising (as it has in the past), but a complex legal opinion will mean that it cannot. So it seems to me that there will be considerable consensus to amend the bill to reflect its proper intent. It will be very interesting if the National Party oppose this – their anti-free speech agenda will then be very nakedly revealed.

    And a final comment on one of the myths going round this thread — many people have said a version of it but this one is Burt: “Labour have squarely shot themselves in the foot trying to tilt the playing field in their favour, sadly that’s the state of it in a nutshell.” This is claiming that Labour tried to write a biased law and failed. This is silly, if Labour were trying to write a biased law it would have been easy – “unions can advertise and no one else can”. Done. What actually happened was that Labour tried to write a fair law in a very complex and contentious domain. In trying to write a fair law they have been caught out on a technicality. But anyone taking cheap shots about how the drafters of the law were incompetent or stupid should actually read the judges ruling and consider the complexities of the issues involved. This stuff isn’t easy to get right, but it’s important that we do.

  86. Dean 86

    “What actually happened was that Labour tried to write a fair law in a very complex and contentious domain.”

    And failed.

    After 9 years of being in power.

    But it was probably a full moon, right? Or it was the previous National government’s fault?

    Take your choice r0b, because either would be something we’d expect from the Labour party.

  87. Razorlight 87

    This whole thing is hilarious.

    One of Labours clear objectives was to silence cashed up opponents of their government. How much abuse has that religous group recieved from the Left over the past 3 years.

    So they construct a shoddy piece of legislation to silence this critic. They are told the legislation is shoddy. They ram it through anyway.

    Then they are found to breach this legislation and their political opponents use this shoddy legislation to silence Labour supporters.

    This is comical and shows how completley incompetent this goverment has become. They have shot themselves in the foot and are wondering why their support is disintergrating.

    What National has done may or may not be right. What is clear though is Labour has no one else to blame but themselves.

  88. r0b 88

    We can always trust Dean to raise the level of the debate eh.

    And failed.

    They didn’t fail to write a fair law Dean, they failed to write a technically perfect law. Anyone who thinks this stuff is easy needs to explain how the Electoral Commission also got it “wrong” in their interpretation.

    After 9 years of being in power.

    What does that have to do with anything?

    But it was probably a full moon, right? Or it was the previous National government’s fault?

    It’s the “fault” of the people who drafted the law Dean, but the “fault” is small. This stuff is complicated – again, the Electoral Commission also got it “wrong” in their interpretation. Go and read the ruling for yourself, you might learn something.

  89. burt 89

    rOb

    It will be very interesting if the National Party oppose this – their anti-free speech agenda will then be very nakedly revealed.

    You yourself probably called National’s opposition to the EFA as it was first proposed, amended, committee’d, amended and passed under urgency an attack on free speech. Please explain to all people, not just National party supporters, how the hell any of us can have any confidence in the intentions of Labour after all of this. Politically I’d say they are in self destruct mode, look at the shambles – draft a contentious law, get caught, have an MP caught, completely f##kup the status quo on their pretty little parallel campaign strategy with the EPMU.

    The EFA was touted as being about transparency, I cannot see how you could possibly allow the EPMU to register as long as Little sits in both camps. He has a simple choice if he wants to act in good faith and enforce the intent of the law rather than introduce another round of BS trying to polish the EFA turd.

    The ruling may be technical, but how would you feel about John Key sitting on the board of 20 ‘associations’ all with $120K to spend. Without Little resigning (somewhere) and with amendments made for the ‘unions’ there would be no moral or ethical objection to John Key doing exactly that.

    But hey amend away, I’d never tell Labour to stop digging on this one, I gave that several amendment cycles ago.

  90. r0b 90

    One of Labours clear objectives was to silence cashed up opponents of their government.

    Ahh no, One of Labours clear objectives was to have balance and openness in the funding of electoral advertising.

    How much abuse has that religous group recieved from the Left over the past 3 years.

    Almost none? Far less than they dished out to the Greens, that’s for sure.

    What National has done may or may not be right. What is clear though is Labour has no one else to blame but themselves.

    Well you got the first bit right. I even agree that Labour has no one to blame but themselves, but what they are “to blame” for is aiming to write fair legislation and failing to write perfect legislation. It is a much lesser sin than National’s trying to use the imperfect legislation to stifle free speech in a democracy. Shame on National, and those that support them in this action.

  91. Dean 91

    “We can always trust Dean to raise the level of the debate eh.”

    We can always trust r0b to get defensive whenever Labour is called into question eh.

    “They didn’t fail to write a fair law Dean, they failed to write a technically perfect law. Anyone who thinks this stuff is easy needs to explain how the Electoral Commission also got it “wrong’ in their interpretation.”

    They failed to write a law after having 9 years practice at it.

    I’d call that imcompetent, but maybe it was just rushed. I mean, come on r0b. Even Mallard doesn’t seem to have figured it out yet.

    And if you don’t think 9 years of experience in passing laws is a good reason not to stuff things up so badly then really there’s no sense in talking to you about it.

    If the same mistake had been made by a National government, you’d be baying for their blood. And you know it.

    “It’s the “fault’ of the people who drafted the law Dean, but the “fault’ is small. This stuff is complicated – again, the Electoral Commission also got it “wrong’ in their interpretation. Go and read the ruling for yourself, you might learn something.”

    I thought Annette King said “common sense” would prevail?

    Is that not the case? Was she wrong?

    Or was there a full moon?

    Remember, r0b. She was the minister in charge of this farce, those were her words, and you’re a member of the same political party. I’m sorry if the shoe is uncomfortable, but you have chosen to wear it.

  92. KenS 92

    You Tories will never understand, you have your big money by unfair means, so we need our unions and workers. This case is so unfair and that’s why Labour needs to change the law to exempt unions from it, thats what they wanted when the law was being considered and they should have got it. The Tories smashed the unions and the public service in the 1990’s and now they are doing it all over again with court cases.

  93. Dean 93

    “Almost none? Far less than they dished out to the Greens, that’s for sure.”

    You sure are reading different newspapers and websites than I am. They’ve even been called “chinless scarf wearers” by the political party you’re a member of.

    Let’s see you defend that one. Full moon notwithstanding, naturally.

  94. Razorlight 94

    ‘Almost none? Far less than they dished out to the Greens, that’s for sure.’

    You aren’t serious are you. The EB has been subjected to ridicule because they dared to oppose the Left. They made some administrative mistakes, that was their only fault. And as a result they have been abused in a way that if they were Jews or Muslims, Annette King and Trevor Mallard would have been hauled before the Human Rights Commission.

  95. John Boscawen 95

    This issue and others like it could have been prevented if the parties supporting the bill had listended to and followed the recommendations of our Human Rights Commission. The HRC said in their September 9 submisison that the bill was ” inherently flawed” and should be withdrawn. Parliament ignored them.

    They repeated that at the Select Committee hearing on October 18th. I was present when Rosslyn Noonan said: ” The Commision’s preference is, and remains, that the proposed legislation, the bill, is withdrawn and redrafted to take into account the very substanial and indepth submissions of the over 600 submitters to the Select Committee. If it is not withdrawn, and rewritten the Commision’s view is that it is essential that any chnages be subject to the widest possible scrutiny to ensure the credibility and legitimacy of whatever electoral law reform emerges”.

    So the HRC wanted the bill withdrawn and for parliament to start again. Failing that, they wanted the bill to be subject to a second round of public consultation. Parliament ignored the Human Rights Commission on this too.
    A trade union should need to go to court in a democracy to fight for its right to be involved in the electoral preocess, but that sadly is what the EFA has given us.

    The government should repeal the EFA before they are furthur embarassed. The law is uncertain and complex and will likely lead to a number of election results being contested in court after the election.

  96. John Wilkins 96

    George Darroch: fuck off. As a $14.50 an hour minimum wage worker you are dead to me. You make huge accusations about Labour and the unions but as a union member I can tell you you don’t have a clue how either organisation works. You are the reason I don’t vote green.

  97. Dean 97

    John,

    “This issue and others like it could have been prevented if the parties supporting the bill had listended to and followed the recommendations of our Human Rights Commission. The HRC said in their September 9 submisison that the bill was ‘ inherently flawed’ and should be withdrawn. Parliament ignored them.”

    The HRC only matters to Labour when it suits them to matter. As you’ll see from r0b and company and their continuted protests that there is nothing to see here, and could we all move along quietly please.

    You can’t talk sense to them. Only that issued by the Labour party matters. Except when it suits them otherwise.

  98. r0b 98

    You yourself probably called National’s opposition to the EFA as it was first proposed, amended, committee’d, amended and passed under urgency an attack on free speech.

    No Burt, I called that a desperate defense of their ability and intention to buy the 2008 election with the same kind of dishonest tactics and big money backers that cost them the 2005 election and their previous leader, the late and unlamented Don Brash.

    Please explain to all people, not just National party supporters, how the hell any of us can have any confidence in the intentions of Labour after all of this.

    Because they clearly didn’t write a law that was biased towards them or they wouldn’t have been caught out on this technicality, they clearly set out to write a fair law, and that is something that we should all approve of.

    Politically I’d say they are in self destruct mode

    Good oh Burt, I shall afford your opinion on this matter all the weight that it deserves.

    The ruling may be technical, but how would you feel about John Key sitting on the board of 20 ‘associations’ all with $120K to spend.

    I would feel that was a pretty transparently foolish thing to do.

    But hey amend away, I’d never tell Labour to stop digging on this one, I gave that several amendment cycles ago.

    Make up your mind Burt – was the law rammed through without consultation, or were there several amendment cycles? When you run your “Labour Bad National Good” nonsense over here it’s best to pick just one line and stick with it…

  99. John Boscawen 99

    My last sentence should have read : ” A trade union should not need to go to court in a democracy to fight for its right to be involved in the electoral process”. I ommitted the word “not” in error.

  100. infused 100

    “The HRC only matters to Labour when it suits them to matter. As you’ll see from r0b and company and their continuted protests that there is nothing to see here, and could we all move along quietly please.

    You can’t talk sense to them. Only that issued by the Labour party matters. Except when it suits them otherwise.”

    Exactly. This is the funnest stuff I’ve ever read on this blog. Seriously. You’re still defending this daft law? My god. Like others said though, you only have yourself to blame.

    Should have slowed down. Listened to the ammendments that other parties wanted. You allowed some, only those that didn’t impact on you in anyway.

    Sorry, but you do have only yourself to blame. Wonder how Helen is sleeping these days?

  101. AncientGeek 101

    JB: So you’d have preferred to have run the election in 2008 with those incredulous holes in the 1993 act that showed up in 2005?

    A trade union should need to go to court in a democracy to fight for its right to be involved in the electoral preocess, but that sadly is what the EFA has given us.

    That is what happens with new laws. They tend go in front of a court to iron out the rough edges. That is how the system works. Parliament writes the legislation, and the courts interpret it and balance against other law.

    With all of the kurffle from the opponents of the act, that the law was only written to unbalance the playing field, both last year and this. The only major public problems have been on the left. Proportably who the act was written to bias towards.

    Makes a bit of a mockery of the opponents claims doesn’t it really. Seems like it really doesn’t seem to have been so unfair after all.

    Perhaps you’d care to enlighten us of the problems of the other sides with the EFA. Or more likely we’ll just get more of the Chicken Little universe – “the sky is falling” from the acts opponents. But then they do seem to be a trifle hysterical most of the time.

  102. AncientGeek 102

    In the end, if there is an adverse decision, the EPMU can decide to allocate their money against the NZLP budget. Or they can remove themselves from any administrative positions in the NZLP and campaign on their own.

    It is a bit of a pain – but new laws do a certain amount of that. Just getting a campaign period that is more based in reality is worth it on its own.

  103. infused 103

    AG, do you actually believe the stuff you write?

    “That is what happens with new laws. They tend go in front of a court to iron out the rough edges. That is how the system works. Parliament writes the legislation, and the courts interpret it and balance against other law.”

    No, Labour tried to silence everyone else apart from unions. But… It going interpreted in a way Labour didn’t expect. Bugger eh.

  104. r0b 104

    So John, you’ve made something of a boutique lifestyle campaigning under the flag of “free speech”. I think that you are sailing under false colours. Convince me that I’m wrong – what do you make of National’s attack on free speech?

    This issue and others like it could have been prevented if the parties supporting the bill had listended to and followed the recommendations of our Human Rights Commission. The HRC said in their September 9 submisison that the bill was ‘ inherently flawed’ and should be withdrawn. Parliament ignored them.

    Parliament followed a full process of public consultation, public submissions to the select committee, modifications to the original draft, and so on. Could they have done more? In theory perhaps, in practice the timing constraints were extreme, see AG’s post above:

    National’s campaign to muzzle union continues

    The government should repeal the EFA before they are furthur embarassed.

    Heh – you wish. The EFA is doing it’s job, a level playing field. I can understand how that must upset you!

  105. Delma 105

    John Boscawen: what do you make of National arguing in the EPMU case that its attempts to silence the union do not impinge on the Bill of Rights while meanwhile you are taking a case to the High Court arguing that the EFA impinges on the Bill of Rights?

    How can you trumpet the National case but go against it entirely in your own?

  106. Dean 106

    r0b:

    “Parliament followed a full process of public consultation, public submissions to the select committee, modifications to the original draft, and so on. Could they have done more?”

    They could have listened to the HRC. Wouldn’t that have been nice? Happily the next time the HRC passes on a recommendation you’ll be happy to ignore it too, right?

  107. lprent 107

    Interesting debate. I’m really surprised that I only had to intervene once, and that was just the eternal ‘sod & whale.

    Keep it up. I prefer it when I only have to scan and read. I get more work done.

    Lynn

  108. burt 108

    rOb

    Make up your mind Burt – was the law rammed through without consultation, or were there several amendment cycles?

    I think you know the answer to that, as Dean said, against the HRC advice the bill never got a second airing and was passed under urgency.

    Yes it had many amendments, all bills do – but it was passed under urgency against HRC advice to scrap it and go back to the drawing board. So why don’t we do just that, lets go back to the old bill for the election, set the date 90 or more days from now and no drama.

    Now about that policy advertising…. that stuff that was illegal, done in 2005 (and probably 1999 & 2002) and retrospectively made legal, then made legal in the EFA was illegal under the previous act… OK, what now? Let me guess – Allow the unions in and “move on”.

  109. r0b 109

    Dean: They could have listened to the HRC. Wouldn’t that have been nice?

    It’s hard to tell whether this line is based on ignorance or deliberate distortion. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that it’s ignorance.

    THe HRC always supported the principles of the bill. They opposed many aspects of the first draft and made a submission. In response many changes were made to the second draft, which the HRC approved of. They had some remaining comments on specific clauses which they expressed. You can see their comments
    here here , and here.

    In short, in no way was the HRC ignored.

  110. r0b 110

    I think you know the answer to that

    No Burt I don’t – what’s your opinion here – was the law rammed through without consultation, or were there several amendment cycles?

    Yes it had many amendments, all bills do – but it was passed under urgency against HRC advice to scrap it and go back to the drawing board.

    Lots of bills get passed under urgency at the end of a year. And the HRC advice applied to the first draft, not to the second amended version, please see the HRC comments linked above. I know this is a convenient lie to push for your “National Good Labour Bad” agenda, but it is a lie Burt.

    Sadly Burt the rest of your post made very little sense, so I can’t comment.

  111. burt 111

    rOb

    Rather than trying to polish the EFA turn some more we could force all parties to comply with the old legislation for one more round. The AG did a pretty good job of pointing out the rules of the game last time. Reckon Labour are up for it? Would be fun to see what a legal election looks like in NZ.

    Yes you are correct, the HRC was certainly not ignored, just well informed advice was not taken. Refusal to accept wise counsel is usually a precursor to major f##kup’s.

  112. r0b 112

    And so good night. The morning shift can take over when they recover from their “Drinking Liberally” hangovers. Lucky sods sure got the better deal tonight!

  113. burt 113

    rOb

    I never said there was no consultation, however if you think canning the second airing after the massive response to the first one, then passing it under urgency was OK because that’s what was easiest for parliament and it’s the way it’s done, then you won’t see eye to eye on much when we discuss ethics, morals or principals. What sort of car have you got mate, Ford or Holden?

  114. burt 114

    rOb

    From the decision.

    The interpretation contended for by the Union, would place greater limits on the freedom of expression of natural persons than of artificial persons.

    Now back to amendments, confidence in intentions and *cough cough* National wanting to shut down free speech? Man you guys are hard to understand. All I can draw on is my dear old granny saying “the guilty always accuse the innocent of the things that they themselves are plotting to do.”

    Good night.

  115. AncientGeek 115

    infused:

    AG, do you actually believe the stuff you write?

    Well you know how it goes – like armchair generals, there are armchair politicians, and armchair activists. Ie people who are good at doing nothing while shooting their mouths off. People who don’t think about the logical consequences of what they say on other peoples lives.

    I’m not one of those. I tend to actually do the things I talk about. So I form opinions from experience rather than idle chatter. That is reinforced by a rather wide range of reading and academia. It still means I get things wrong, and I get pulled up on them here by people, as Billy did earlier. That is how you learn and this place is sometimes pretty good at reinforcing learning.

    But it gets pretty apparent around here who is worth while listening to and who isn’t. Now tell me again why I should be all that enthralled by your comments?

  116. Seano 116

    [Tane: Interestingly though, they’re only targeting their critics, and one of their most effective ones at that. Where’s National’s test case against the Free Speech Coalition or Sensible Sentencing?]

    Get real Tane, this is politics. The EFA was passed for a political purpose. If it was for some altruistic reason then the comments of the Human Rights Commission, the Law Society et. al. would have been taken into consideration.

    Why on earth would the Opposition (which comes from the word “opposition”) want to test legislation on groups more likely to be its supporters?

    As Ancient points out, all the EPMU has to do is, well, comply with the law. Much like the Opposition. And its supporters.

  117. Robinsod 117

    Does anyone know when the Sensible Sentencing Trust are planning to register as a third party?

  118. higherstandard 118

    hmmmmmmm

    Now who was it that said on this site the EFB was a non issue and that no one really cared about it anymore ?

  119. ak 119

    Non-issue HS? Heck no.

    TORY FREE-SPEECH FIGHTERS DESPERATE TO MUZZLE UNION has a great resonance. Ta muchly all.

    [lprent: Please don’t SHOUT. It hurts my sensibilities]

  120. higherstandard 120

    Good deflection AK but I’m afraid the parties that passed this bill into Law are the real villains

  121. John Boscawen 121

    Responses to last night’s comments:

    Ancient Greek,

    What I would have preferred was that parliament had listended to our Human Rights Commission. I found it incredible that Labour,Green,and NZ First MPs would ignore the advice and recommendations of our Human Rights Commision, particularly on the issue of free speech. I would have preferred the bill had been withdrawn and redrafted as they said it should. Failing that, if they were intent on pushing ahead with changes I would have preferred that those changes were open to a furthur round of public consultation. ( as recommended by the HRC)

    When Rosslyn Noonan appeared before the select committee on 18 October she tabled a document listing four “essential ” changes to the bill. This document is still on the HRC website. One of these “essential” changes was that restrictions should not be placed on our ability to speak out for any more than three months prior to the election. In answer to Rob’s question there was more than ample time to either redraft the bill, or have a second round of public consultation and still have plenty of time for a three month restriction.

    Ancient Greek, yes courts do interpret the law, but it should not be so uncertain and complex this becomes necessary on a regular basis. The Electoral Commision are quoted in the Herald yesterday as saying they do not know for sure what an “electoral adveretisement” is. How does this help to run our election with certainty?.

    Take for example the case of Trevor Mallard’s car. It is easy to put an authorisation sign on this. However the real issue will be how much “cost” does TM report on his expense return. Is it just the cost of the paint job?, depreciation on the car? petrol? parking at th eairport?. The way is open for the second placed candidate in Lower Hutt to commence legal proceedings after the election unless TM takes a vey conservative view with his election expenses.

    Ancient Greek referred to all the public problems coming from the left and so this some how made the Act right. We are talking about the most fundamental right of free speech and the right to participate in the electoral process. You can not asseess an Act and say because only “left ‘groups ae affectted, it is ok. It should not matter who is affectted.

    With regard to “right ” groups being affected, the few ones I know have chosen not to register because of the uncertainty and have decided to change what they say in election year to ensure they do not make any “election advertisements” . So censorship is working. For example it was initally my intention to register the Freedom of Speech Trust, however after taking advice, I decided it would be simply much safer to not to make “election advertisement”. I am simply running a campaign for the repeal of the Electoral Finance Act, in the same way that Greenpeace campaigns against whaling in the southern oceans.

    Robinsod asked the morning when the Sensible Sentencing Trust would register. They may not. They just make sure they do not make election advertisements.

    Rob asked if I supportted National’s “attack on free speech”. I do not think National are attacking free speech. They strongly opposed the EFA which restricts the rights of people and organisations involved with a political party to be involved in the electoral process. I think the EPMU should be able to be involved,in the same way that I think the SST should be able to place “election advertisements”

    Finally with regard to my case against the Attorney General the AG acts as a watchguard of our rights under the BOR. The orginal EFB provided that every New Zealander who wished to make any form of political comment in election year would first have to sign a statutory declartion. The Crown Law office thought this was acceptable. The AG thought this was acceptable. However the HRC said it ‘was a dramtic assault on two freedoms New Zealanders cherrish, the right to free speech and the right to participate as informed citizens in elections. I beleive the crown law office advice is wrong and that the AG, deputy PM Michael Cullen failed in his job. I am bringing these proceedings to challenge the precedent the Crown Law Office and the AG have created. If I win, parliament may change the law and so allow the EPMU too participate without restriction.

  122. IrishBill 122

    That’s all very interesting John but you failed to answer one key question. Do you support the National Party’s action against the EPMU’s registration as a third party even though the National party strongly argued the EFA does not breach the Bill of Rights Act as part of its case?

  123. John Boscawen 123

    Irish Bill, I do not have a view I am sorry.

    I have not read the decision.

    It surprises me that you said ” the National Party strongly argued the EFA does not breach the Bill of Rights Act as part of its case”.

    I believe the EFA does breach the BORA and that was part of our argument to the court, so I would need to understand more about their case before commenting furthur.

  124. IrishBill 124

    Oh. I would have thought that a man who has dedicated so much time and money to overturning the EFA would have been very interested in what is perhaps the most important decision made on it yet. I guess not.

  125. Tim 125

    This annoys me intensely. Because of this law the EPMU may be hindered from running an effective workers’ rights campaign in election year. This is a big deal. EPMU workers and activists did such a great job of rallying to defeat the 90 day bill in 2006. When was the last time we saw a union mass meeting like that? When was the last time we saw workers mobilised around political issues on such a scale?

    What annoys me even more intensely is the ham-fisted way in which Labour rushed through significant changes to electoral law just before election year, when such wide-spread changes weren’t even necessary. It’s a ridiculous, incomprehensible law. The fact is that the EB’s campaign last election probably got Labour into Parliament. Voters don’t like secret big-money campaigns and turned off National because of this.

  126. randal 126

    give the EPMU a GO. its their turn. If it is time to give the nats a GO then its time to give the EPMU a GO. After all they do something for their members so they should havea bigger GO than the nats who only do somethings for their own little claque while all the blusterers who line up to yell give the nats a GO get nothing but a silly grin.

  127. John Boscawen 127

    Irish Bill, its a question of priorities. I am busy organsing the next provincial protest calling for the Act’s repeal. You have only just told me National do not beleive the EFA is not inconsistent with BORA.

    Tim. You said this is a ridiculous and incomprehensible law. In its submission the HRC emphasised the fact that the bill was complex and was likely to lead to less, rather than more political involvement. The Human Rights Commision beleives it is important that as many people as possible should be involved in the electoral process. This was a key reason why they thought the bill should be withdrawn and redrafted. I admire the HRC and its Commissioners Rosslyn Noonan and Judy Mc Gregor standing up for our rights to be involved in the political process.

  128. r0b 128

    JB: Rob asked if I supportted National’s “attack on free speech’. I do not think National are attacking free speech.

    How utterly and cynically predictable of you John. The EPMU are in do doubt that their rights are being attacked:
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/4555891a11.html

    EPMU National Secretary Andrew Little was disappointed with the decision and said the National Party was trying to gag its right to free speech.

    So who knows best – you or the EPMU themselves?

    If you are an advocate of free speech I call on you to publicly and vigourously attack National’s attempt to deprive the EPMU of their right to advertise in this election.

    If you are a cynical political hack trying to discredit the EFA for the big money types who like to try to buy elections then just ignore this comment, or carry on trying to argue that black is white.

    Go on, surprise me.

  129. erikter 129

    “How utterly and cynically predictable of you John. The EPMU are in do doubt that their rights are being attacked.”

    Rob, the EPMU and its members are free to believe what they want. Howver, the reality is that the High Cort has ruled against them and they will have to abide by the law.

    Yes, the law, the same one that the Labour Party and its acolytes passed in urgency, the EFA.

    Yours is another vain attempt to shoot the messenger, when in fact you should be directing your rage towards the Labour government (your political masters?).

  130. Tim 130

    John – I have to say I disagree with you on everything politically except perhaps the EFA (it’s only good to the extent it ended secret donations). Free speech is important so we can see precisely what abject morons Family First, the exclusive brethern and so on are.

    I do find it a bit rich that the National Party is now supporting the HRC, when it spends most of its time degrading it, and even had an “anti-PC” spokesperson Wayne Mapp, who heaped fulsome criticism on the HRC. Guess when it’s minority rights under attack it’s a different kettle of fish for the National Party.

  131. MikeE 131

    Heh,

    Pwned.

  132. James Kearney 132

    Heh,

    Pwned.

    You mean John Boscawen? Yup.

  133. dave 133

    Andrew Little is wrong, the EPMU are not being gagged. They have their right to free speech. They are actually moaning that they have their right to paid speech gagged.

    Let ’em moan. Why isnt the EPMU criticising the Crown Law for the crap advice they gave?

  134. John Boscawen 134

    Rob, Yes I do believe the EPMU should be allowed to participate in the electoral process, just as I believe every other individual and organisation should be allowed to participate. Sadly however it would appear the Electoral Finance Act restricts their ability to do so, and to an extent greater than applies to many other organisations. This is the reason why I ran a campaign against the Electoral Finance Bill and why I am currently running a campaign for the repeal of the Electoral Finance Act.

    Free Speech and the right to participate in the electoral process affects all New Zealanders, no matter what their political persuasion. It is no coincidence that one of the most vehement critics was Rosslyn Noonan a former trade unionist.

    Tim has stated that he agrees with me on this particular issue (but he feels apparently not on most other points). I think this highlights that thinking people from both the left and right realise that the EFA is an attack on free speech. Another example is Bryce Edwards. Bryce is also a critic of the Act and is a political science lecturer at Otago University. When I rang him recently to ask if he would speak at my Tauranga Protest March he insisted on telling me first about his support of left wing politics. As it happened he was not available that weekend but would have spoken had he been free. It concerns me not that Bryce is from the “left wing”. He simply knows the Act is wrong and is prepared to say so. He can see the Act can just as easily gag left wing groups such as the EPMU as right wing groups. Either way it is wrong.

    Finally Tim comments the one good thing the EFA does is to prohibit anonymous donations. This is what the supporter of the bill have trumpeted but it is also not true. There is no limit whatsoever to the number of donations of $999 I could make to any political party. If for example I wanted to donate $100,000 to the Labour Party all I need to do is to get 101 bank cheques for $999 and drop them off one at a time. Bryce Edwards makes this point in his article published recently in The New Zealand Law Journal. Similarly if I was a major corporate and had a number of subsidiary companies there is nothing to stop each subsidiary making donations of $9999. While the financial agent of the political party concerned would know of my donation there would be no need for it to be disclosed to the wider New Zealand public.

    Prior to the Act being passed I had a private meeting with an MP who supported and subsequently voted for the Act. He openly acknowledged that loopholes like the above were still available and individuals who wanted to continue to make substantial anonymous donations were free to do so. So sadly Tim, you are mistaken on this issue, although i can understand why you think that is the case.

  135. “George Darroch: fuck off. As a $14.50 an hour minimum wage worker you are dead to me. You make huge accusations about Labour and the unions but as a union member I can tell you you don’t have a clue how either organisation works. You are the reason I don’t vote green.”

    All I did was state the bleedingly obvious – that the EPMU have choosen to be affiliated with Labour, and spend a lot of money supporting the party every election.

    That’s their right, and they obviously feel that Labour best suits their members interests – to the extent that they deliberately stood Lynne Pillay against Laila Harre – a successful attempt to replace a staunch and consistent champion of workers rights with a useless bench-warmer. What’s Lynne Pillay done? Oh, that’s right, the Waitakere Ranges Protection Bill. Still, getting rid of the Alliance made it easy to go with those noted workers advocates, United Future.

    I know all too well what poverty feels like, what low minimum wages, jobs without health and safety protection, piecework, casual work, being ripped off and screwed around by bosses, and let off for no good reason (and an unemployment benefit that barely covers rent and food). I know the value of a good union and count a number of union organisers among my friends. I also know the pain of a bad one – one that won’t back you up, doesn’t think your workplace worth organising, thinks it works for workers rather than with them, and flies it’s executive in business class (I’m not making this accusation of the EPMU but an Australian union I refuse to join), and supports a neoliberal party that doesn’t give a whit about workers in other countries.

    Hmmm, I didn’t mean to be so spiteful.

  136. Tim 137

    John – I didn’t know that about the EFA. I could try reading it to see whether I agree with you or not but I’m not sure I’d understand it (or anyone else would)!

    George – pretty lame bagging the EPMU. You’re really just bagging 50,000 workers and the many dedicated and hard working organisers there. It’s capitalism that divides workers according to industry and so on, don’t join in the division.

    Bryce’s and Chris Trotter’s takes on the EPMU come from people far removed from the front line. Maybe Bryce should spend a day as a delegate or organiser. He couldn’t handle it. It’s far easier being a malcontent political lecturer criticising from the sidelines. When was the last time he stood on a picket line or got involved in grass roots action? Where was Bryce during the EPMU coal miners’ strikes/lockout? The AA strikes? The 90 day bill rallies? Much easier to fan political divisions than support workers though isn’t it?

  137. r0b 138

    JB: Rob, Yes I do believe the EPMU should be allowed to participate in the electoral process, just as I believe every other individual and organisation should be allowed to participate.

    Excellent – me too. I look forward to you putting your money where your mouth is, and conducting a vigourous campaign against National’s attempts to exclude the EPMU. I’d come on that march for you John.

    Sadly however it would appear the Electoral Finance Act restricts their ability to do so, and to an extent greater than applies to many other organisations.

    Ahh well, I guess not then. What self serving nonsense. In the opinion of the Electoral Commission (the group charged with interpreting and implementing the act) no such restriction existed. National has run an expensive and aggressive legal campaign to challenge the EC because the EC’s decision didn’t suit them. The EFA didn’t restrict the EPMU in the opinion of the EC, but National kept pushing until they got a legal result that reopened the issue.

    The fact that for National this is purely an issue of suppressing free speech is made completely obvious by their use of an injunction to muzzle the EPMU. If the intent was to “clarify the law” then no injunction was needed. Injunctions don’t clarify the law, their sole purpose is to shut people up.

    So here you stand John, with your “free speech” flag of convenience in tatters. If this was about free speech you would be protesting National’s actions, not giving them a free pass on the grounds that “the EFA can be read as not expressly forbiding National from suppressing the free speech of the EPMU so it must be OK for them to do so”.

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