New Citizens’ Party paper flouts electoral law

Written By: - Date published: 9:30 am, March 8th, 2011 - 34 comments
Categories: by-election, crime - Tags: , , , ,

The United Chinese Press newspaper is potentially facing prosecution under the Electoral Act after it ran adverts on the day of the Botany by-election supporting New Citizens’ Party candidate Paul Young. The paper, the party, and the bidders for the Crafar Farms all appear to have strong links each other and the Chinese government.

We’ve been following the story of these organisations for a while on The Standard. All three sprung out of nowhere. They seem to share personnel and all place an emphasis on strong links with the Chinese government and are campaigning for more Chinese investment in this country.

Now, there’s nothing new about parties, industry players, and media outlets being linked.

There’s National’s links with various business bodies like the EMA and Business Roundtable, and its long-time media friend, Granny Herald.

Labour, of course, was birthed by the unions and the labour movement used to have its own newspaper, The Standard (or, as we call it, v1.0).

But the shadowy relationship between the New Citizens Party, Natural Dairy New Zealand (formerly called China Jin Hui Mining Corporation and owned by the Chinese government), and the United Free Press smells like an orchestrated attempt by the Chinese Government to influence our politics. The fact that the New Citizens Party leadership held a meeting in Beijing attended by Natural Dairy New Zealand only heightens these concerns. (the new bidder for the Crafar Farms after Natural Dairy’s was rejected is also Chinese with heavy government links).

Free press and new political parties are great. Foreign government sock-puppets are not.

This latest incident, which appears to be a deliberate flouting of our electoral laws does little to reassure me.

34 comments on “New Citizens’ Party paper flouts electoral law”

  1. Lew 1

    Predictions on when some clueless troll will cry “OMGRACISEM”?

    (Happened pretty quick when Pablo raised his own questions about these links on KP).


  2. toad 2

    The rise of the Communist Party of China (New Zealand Branch) New Citizens Party caught me pretty much on the hop.

    Can someone fill me in on what its policies are other than facilitating Chinese investment in New Zealand.

    • fizzleplug 2.1

      Not just the New Citizens Party, but the Botany by election in general caught the whole Green Party on the hop, sneaking up on them like that.

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    Rookie mistake, and sorta dumb, advertising on election day. Wonder if it was incompetence or arrogance. Will be interesting to see what the investigation turns up.

  4. Given that both the paper and the party had been briefed by the Electoral Office as to what they could and couldn’t do, it’s more than “sorta dumb”. It shows a complete lack of respect for the rules, and it needs to be stamped on quickly.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 4.1

      There seems to be a ‘loophole’ , with the paper being printed before 6PM the previous day.
      or so they say. You would want the printing records to have ‘proof’ in the legal sense.

      • It’s not a ‘loophole’. It’s a design feature.

        Electoral Act 1993, s 197:

        (1) Every person commits an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $20,000 who at an election—

        (g) at any time on polling day before the close of the poll exhibits in or in view of any public place, or publishes, or distributes, or broadcasts,—

        (i) any statement advising or intended or likely to influence any elector as to the candidate or party for whom the elector should or should not vote; or
        (ii) any statement advising or intended or likely to influence any elector to abstain from voting; or
        (iii) any party name, emblem, slogan, or logo; or
        (iv) any ribbons, streamers, rosettes, or items of a similar nature in party colours:

        provided that this paragraph shall not apply to any statement, name, emblem, slogan, or logo in a newspaper published before 6 pm on the day before polling day:

        • lprent

          Yeah. The act is a bit archaic in some ways – it assumes that there are just print media or broadcast media.

          That provision is what allows us to leave the rest of The Standard’s posts up that provide opinion and comment on the elections if you take broad view of a ‘newspaper’. But we don’t put posts up on the day or allow comment on the by-election apart from saying that it is on. But it all depends on what is the definition of a newspaper.

          I think that Eddie probably has it wrong on the legal issue if they published prior 6pm the previous day.

          However if they were actively distributing the paper on election day then I’d say that they are definitely trying to circumvent the intention of the act. That should be complained about if only so the act can be looked at.

          Imagine if you printed a set of leaflets in a ‘newspaper’ format 2 weeks before the election and then put them in letterboxes on the day or handed them out outside of the polling booth as a free newspaper. You could argue that is also legal.

          • toad

            I remember in 2005 the Exclusive Brethren leaflet full of anti-Green lies and half-truths being in my letterbox at 8.30am on polling day, but not being there when I checked it about 5.00pm the previous day.

            I made a complaint, but it wasn’t upheld because there was not conclusive proof that it was distributed on polling day.

            • the pink postman

              The same thing happened In the Waikato Toad, ACT and the exclusive Brethren delivered pamphelts on election day .Protests fell on deaf ears. There is no doubt that the political Right have a lot on their side. The Nat’s never paid the GSt they owed for the previous election yet Labour was savaged over the so called pledge card pay out. Unfortunatly for the Left the Right are well entrenched into the places of influence .

        • wtl

          While I can see the point of this ‘design feature’, surely printing the newspaper before the deadline with the intent to distributed it and influence voting on election day goes against the ‘spirit’ of the law?

        • mcflock

          Interesting – “publish” includes distribution and “leaving in any place” as well as printing: Section 3D.

          So it would be an intriguing point as to whether a newspaper can be “published” twice under the act.

          There is always the possibility that the activities were so blatant that nobody considered them when formulating the legislation, of course.

          • lprent

            Meaning of publish
            In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, publish, in relation to an election advertisement, means to bring to the notice of a person in any manner—
            (a) including—
            (i) displaying on any medium:
            (ii) distributing by any means:
            (iii) delivering to an address:
            (iv) leaving at a place:
            (v) sending by post or otherwise:
            (vi) printing in a newspaper or other periodical:
            (vii) broadcasting by any means:
            (viii) disseminating by means of the Internet or any other electronic medium:
            (ix) storing electronically in a way that is accessible to the public:
            (x) incorporating in a device for use with a computer:
            (xi) inserting in a film or video; but
            (b) excluding addressing 1 or more persons face to face.
            Section 3D: inserted, on 1 January 2011, by section 5 of the Electoral (Finance Reform and Advance Voting) Amendment Act 2010 (2010 No 137).

            Ummm so the act of distribution can be publishing. That makes me more hopeful of a successful complaint.

    • the sprout 4.2

      in fairness, the chinese govt and its nz organs probably don’t think they need to respect nz law and democracy considering this govt was quite happy to let armed chinese guards assault russell norman on the forecourt of our parliament.

  5. Christopher Nimmo 5

    Aww… this is a crying shame! I did actually try to help them out by pointing out about a month ago that their website should probably have an English language option and that it should carry authorisation.

    And they listened to me! (Which must be just about a first for a political party)

    I hope the NCP is able to move beyond its roots (particularly the Chinese-centric aspects). A party representing the somewhat marginalised migrant communities in NZ could be a valuable addition to our political landscape.

    • wtl 5.1

      The problem with a party devoted to the ‘migrant communities’ is that such communities are not homogeneous, making it very hard for such a party to properly represent the interests of migrants as a whole.

      • Christopher Nimmo 5.1.1

        Fair enough, but then again, no community is homogenous. Not Maori, not “workers”, not even “environmentalists”, not even “rich white men”. That doesn’t mean, however, that there are no issues which they might hold in common.

        • wtl

          But the point of course is that most parties that are defined more by ‘issues’ rather that being based on a certain group (e.g. pro-worker, pro-business, pro-environment), making them considerable more homogeneous. The NCP (and Maori Party), are exceptions to this. After all, as toad already pointed out, exactly what does this party stand for, apart from promoting investment by China in NZ? (which makes their party name a bit of a misnomer – obviously there are no issues with CITIZENS, new or otherwise, owning assets here, but non-citizens are another mater).

    • Aroha Allen 5.2

      This is true. The migrant community is quite a niche. Will be interesting to see how this population responds to the party. A bit of diversity is good.

  6. Adrian 6

    Piss off, CN. This is Beijing set up, Beijing paid for, Beijing run, lets run the bastards out town as we would do if it was Washington or London.

    • Christopher Nimmo 6.1

      And yet a political party must have five hundred members to be registered. Are ALL of these people Chinese government sockpuppets? How about all the people who voted for the NCP in Botany? Are all these people “bastards”?

      Maybe, just maybe, there are people out there who aren’t complete tools of a foreign government, who want people in parliament to reflect their New Zealand experience?

      • mcflock 6.1.1

        Some of them might be idiots who join or vote for a party without researching its origins or policies – all slogan, no actual policy.

        Like middle NZers who vote NACT.

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    We obviously need some laws that prevent such connections between political parties and foreign governments/businesses.

    • Its a bit strange and I wonder if there were 500 members ? No doubt National would welcome a Right-Wing party to fill the gap that will be left by the demiss of the ACT party so perhaps some of them joined up? However I find the whole thing a bit weird to say the lest/

  8. prism 8

    Natural Dairy New Zealand (formerly called China Jin Hui Mining Corporation and owned by the Chinese government)

    Is Bill Ralston representative in New Zealand for the Natural Dairy NZ company? If so he would know the electoral laws and could pass them on to the new party if there are close ties.

    By the by I was talking to a NZ living in Oz and he says they are feeling pressure from the land-buying of Chinese wanting farms. In light of their drought and still large population, and the possible lack of water particularly from Tibet which they have annexed, it could seem a good idea to look at other places with spare land and water down south.

    • mcflock 8.1

      ISTR a Gwynn Dyer piece about the Chinese govt (and others) buying up massive tracts in the more stable African countries, as well.

      A, here we are . From 2009. The paragraph I especially like is:

      The first is that sovereignty trumps contractual obligations every
      time. If the African countries that are leasing their land fall into
      difficulties in feeding their own populations, as they are likely to do if
      world grain prices rise sharply, the first resource they will turn to is
      the foreign plantations on their territory. Governments that cannot feed
      their populations face overthrow, and will break contracts without the
      slightest hesitation.

      • prism 8.1.1

        mcflock – Sounds straightforward, governments seeing feeding their population as a No.1 priority. That is if there aren’t higher values (money, prestige and power) to be got by looking at things differently. All governments have to be pragmatic, and we hope they will be of integrity to the people also, but sometimes the pragmatism rises up like liquefaction and smothers the principles.

        • Colonial Viper

          Governments that cannot feed
          their populations face overthrow, and will break contracts without the
          slightest hesitation.

          Ah, no, disagree here.

          Look at Zimbabwe, Egypt, etc. despite civil unrest, massive unemployment and food shortages, dictatorial governments can stay in place for years. If not decades. Mugabe has crafted the fine use of food supplies and violence as a political tool.

          And Chinese military assistance can always be used to shore up strategic foreign governments if China deems it necessary. No way Europe or the US is getting into the middle of something like that.

          Nevertheless China and Chinese nationals are generally well regarded by the populations in Africa and South America. That is what I hear. China, unlike the west has actually placed a large amount of money and attention in those areas. So although China can play the game of being a backer of bad governments it is actually doing all it can to create partnerships with these countries.

          For instance China has overtaken the US as Brazil’s top trading partner. It is commonplace to see Chinese nationals in the CBD’s of major Brazilian cities. China is also Argentina’s no.2 trading partner.

          Can you believe that. In large tracts of South America, the US is no longer the dominant economic partner. China is.

          • McFlock

            True about China’s aid program, but it relies on China being economically strong. If, say, a property bubble burst and fucked the middle class, China might be drawing funds towards internal security rather than shoring up friendly regimes. They’ll probably pick the best fruit baskets and let the others wither.

            I’m not so sure about Zimbabwe as an example – my impression is that people are waiting for Mugabe to drop off and the bastard is diligently failing to oblige. Egypt finally did have at least a nominal change this year – we’ll see how the elections go.The drivers of american tanks in Cairo saw which way the wind was blowing and acted accordingly.

            Tunisia and Libya are good counterexamples, too.

            I guess that the rule of thumb is that while overthrow isn’t guaranteed in the face of food shortages (which is the immediate issue in general economic collapse, if you want to throw in Ireland and Iceland, etc), it’s a powerful motivator.

  9. Fisiani 9

    The taxpayer ought to get the benefit of a hefty fine to add to the Christchurch fund

  10. Aroha Allen 10

    The New Citizen Party in particular Paul Young managed to rank 3rd ahead of Act and 6 other candidates running. It seems as though NZérs want another choice and why not give it to them. This is the reason we live in a democratic society, so people have choices and if the 5% threshhold is met in the General Election than the people have spoken.

    I don’t see the need to throw racist remarks, (Zorr and Adrian) it is petty and quite frankly does not need to be brought up in discussions.

    I enjoy living in New Zealand and having the right to my vote and I like the fact we have new party’s forming (e.g. pirate, legalise marijuana, etc.) it shows our diversity and its something as a Kiwi I am proud of.

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