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Policy for Money?

Written By: - Date published: 9:50 pm, April 29th, 2012 - 13 comments
Categories: accountability, act, election funding, john banks, john key, national, privatisation, Privatisation - Tags:

One interesting sidelight in the John Banks donations affair is his alleged request to split Kim Dotcom’s $50,000 donation into two lots of $25,000  “so it could be declared anonymously.” Banks apparently was not aware that the limit above which donations  in  local body elections must be declared is $1,000, the same as it is for electorate candidates in general elections. He may have been confused with the limit above which  declaration of party donations from known persons in general elections is required, which is now set at $15,000. This provision does not apply in the Local Electoral Act.

Party donations for the 2011 general election must be declared to the Electoral Commission by the end of April, and will be published on Tuesday . One new provision in the Act provides for the declaration of the number of donations in two bands, from $1500 to $5,000, and $5,00 to $15,000. It will be very interesting to see the number of upper level donations in National and ACT particularly.

These parties proposed as policy the partial sale of electricity assets. One of the reasons given for this by the Capital Markets Task Force was the need to deepen our thin capital market by providing more high-dividend stock. Whatever may be the outcome for mums and dads, there is no doubt that sharebrokers, the NZX, and asset sales advisors were advocates for and will be principal beneficiaries of this policy, to the tune of $100million according to Tony Ryall.

They are also the most likely to be able to manage donations so that they come from a variety of companies, just as Banks asked Kim Dotcom to do according to the German. Of course we will not know the specifics as the only information we will have will be the number of donations at each level.

The concern about this is that it raises more questions about the provision of policy for money. This is a live issue in Britain, with revelations from a Conservative fundraiser Peter Cruddas offering this explicitly, as well as the ongoing saga of the Murdoch media and the BSkyB takeover. Closer to home we have the issue of access given to SkyCity by John Key resulting in the Casino of National Significance.

All of this says that we have a considerable way to go before we can say that our political system is transparent and that there is no question of unknown money buying influence. In my opinion, we need complete transparency about all political donations, and public funding of political parties to make up the shortfall and guarantee complete independence from the influence of money in politics. At a few million a year, it would certainly be a much better spend than $100million to the overseas finance companies.

 

 

13 comments on “Policy for Money?”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    Two things need to be done about political donations:-
    1.) No business, trust or association can make political donations.
    2.) Every donation must be recorded against a name and IRD number.

    Time to get rid of the corruption that is showing up in our political system.

    • Tigger 1.1

      +1. Simple. Transparent. Politicians should be proud to introduce this system. Donors who aren’t happy with such transparency shouldn’t be giving.

    • QoT 1.2

      I like it. But I’m enamoured with the wonderful simplicity of One citizen one dollar one vote which r0b highlighted back in October.

      • Kotahi Tane Huna 1.2.1

        +1

        Whatever the solution, it will be completely pointless unless the police enforce it – cf: election broadcasts.

      • Chaz 1.2.2

        How about one citizen, one tax dollar, one vote per dollar?
        Oops, that would be the end of the left as a political force though. Can’t actually have the people paying for everything having a say in what happens to their money, can we.

        • QoT 1.2.2.1

          Oh, you’re so cute. Raising the bogeyman of “the rich pay more!!!” in a thread about how the rich get to buy policy through donations. One day, the irony of this will occur to you, and your head will go POP.

    • McFlock 1.3

      I’ve been at political meetings where they had a “pass the hat” to pay for the hall. Fair enough that such piddling expenses are collected anonymously.
          
      But when the aggregate becomes substantial (say above $1000) then I agree – always an identified donor.
         
      The other issue I have was some fundraising raffle the [i think the nats] held with a donated prize (a gold nugget I think). If someone bought 500 tickets at a hundred dollars a pop for a chance of winning a $1,000 nugget, is that counted as a donation? I have no idea, but would think so. And if the donated nugget were given a list value of $1,000, but someone bought it off the party for $50,000, would that count as a donation? Or just a healthy capital return?

    • Chaz 1.4

      And what about the unions Draco? Exempt from the rules the rest of us are expected to abide by, as usual?

  2. Shaz 2

    I agree with you Mike. I wonder also how many donors are represented by key-holding lobbyists?

    Since its a secret the names and portfolios of the 20 lobbyists who have swipe cards to the Beehive have to be guessed at. Let’s have a go.

    I think we can safely assume that the lobbyists are unlikely to be from the trades unions, Citizen’s Advice Bureaux, Rethinking Crime and Punishment or the NZ Nurses organisation.

    I speculate that there are lobbyists with freedom to move around parliament and influence at will from the following industries and companies: Roading and construction; the mining lobby; the arms industry; representatives of chambers of commerce and employers; breweries, farming; retail; private prisons; the insurance industry; private schools and private health care; the film industry, telecommunications; electricity generation and gambling; banking and share-broking.

    We could speculate that there is a cost for a keycard or for a PQ or for preferential legislation beyond the 2 examples that are public (and give the government no cause for concern) but that would be just downright naughty wouldn’t it? My point is that while there is no transparency about funding the speculation about cash for influence is damaging to all parties.

  3. Jenny 3

    To a large extent the monied have corrupted the democratic process. Why else do they fight so hard to keep the true extent of monied influence secret. From electoral donations, to the constant professional lobbying of parliamentarians secrecy shrouds all these transations. To overcome all this undue influence from the wealthy the best disinfectant is sunlight. But like the blood sucking vampires of fiction those with this power to influence our democratic process will spare no effort to make sure that all these undemocratic practices are kept as much as possible in the dark.

  4. Sanctuary 4

    “…One interesting sidelight in the John Banks donations affair is his alleged request to split Kim Dotcom’s $50,000 donation into two lots of $25,000 “so it could be declared anonymously.” Banks apparently was not aware that the limit above which donations in local body elections must be declared is $1,000…”

    There were five anonymous donations of $25,000 to Banks in his declaration. My guess is Banks already knew he had three anonymous donations of 25k so asked Kim Dotcom to split his so he had five anonymous donations – that way he could claim he didn’t know WHICH particular donation of 25k came from who.

    My theory certainly fits the sort of sharp practice and cynical guffawing entitlement that is the MO of the crony elite in Auckland.

  5. Clashman 5

    Im looking forward to seeing how far we have slid down the ladder in the next lot of international corruption rankings.

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