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Written By: - Date published: 12:24 pm, April 16th, 2009 - 26 comments
Categories: election funding, labour - Tags: , , , ,

We should expect National as the political arm of business to surround itself with dirty money and conflicts of interest. As a self-proclaimed social democratic party Labour has no such excuse.

So:

– What is Labour’s education spokesperson Chris Carter doing accepting election donations from a private college?

– Why is Shane Jones accepting money from possibly the most reactionary business family in New Zealand, the Talleys?

– And why was Labour’s then climate change minister David Parker accepting money from the Road Transport Forum?

One of the biggest problems of the last Labour government was that it kow-towed far too much to business at the expense of a lot of people who voted for them. It’s time Labour cut the cord with the business lobby and reconnected with its grassroots.

26 comments on “Questions”

  1. bobo 1

    This is bad.. Labour could be a long time in opposition if this is a growing trend, because the media spotlight doesn’t shine as bright on opposition MPs generally could they be getting sloppy already with the departure of Clark ?

    • Tane 1.1

      These donations were accepted under Clark. That’s not saying she knew of or approved them, but it’s not a Clark-era vs Goff-era issue.

      [captcha: $2,055,827 surplus]

      • bobo 1.1.1

        Any idea why the links have come out now surely the media would have been all over this when they were in government. Not that the media do much indepth digging unless its given to them on a plate.

  2. Johnty Rhodes 2

    bent fucking socialists, all greedy wankers.
    I am going to re-register dickhead and come back on, this is my 5th alias.

    [Tane: I’m going to have to let this comment through for its sheer “wtf?” value.]

    • jerry 2.1

      You should sore up the WTF comments and post them all up in a couple of months……sometimes I can’t help reading them and laughing out loud despite their complete bizarreness.

  3. Stephen 3

    ‘WTF – win!’

  4. Back to more serious things.

    This is what happens when you do not have state funding of political parties and the sooner that this is implemented the better.

    Politics is no longer the mass movement that it was back in the 1970s, TV and take out food have meant that any sort of community group has almost inevitably gone into decline.

    And the expectations on political parties are much higher. Running a party is no longer something that an enthusiastic amateur can do.

    So running a party has become more and more expensive. And campaigns are not cheap. You can no longer book 5 school halls and hope to by holding public meetings contact a significant number of your electors. They stay home in front of the idiot box and in any event MMP electorates are that much bigger.

    That is why all of the MPs have active fundraising activities. And money being offered without strings attached is of course accepted.

    By all means we should avoid developing a system where privilege and access can be bought. But we will need state funding to do so.

    • Rex Widerstrom 4.1

      This is what happens when you do not have state funding of political parties and the sooner that this is implemented the better.

      Think for a minute about what you’re saying here, micky. That our politicians are so corruptible, venal and power-hungry that they cannot be trusted to accept money from anyone because inevitably that money will buy the loyalty and integrity that rightly belongs to the people of New Zealand.

      So the people of New Zealand must reach into their far-from-bottomless pockets and offer our own, bigger, gratuities to buy that loyalty back.

      I’d argue instead that it’s time we completely re-engineered the way we select candidates and then elect them as MPs. That we establish an independent Commissioner of Parliamentary Standards based on the original UK model (not the emasculated one the politicians changed it to when too many of them were getting caught). And that we institute a harsh and punitive response to anyone who offers themselves for public office and then is found to have prostituted that office for personal gain – even if that gain is purely re-election.

      • mickysavage 4.1.1

        Hi Rex

        What I am saying is that a major party needs $2m and a MP $20k to run an effective campaign and donations currently constitute a significant proportion of these amounts.

        There is nothing illegal with the Transport Forum or Fletchers making donations. These have occurred for a long time and National in particular has benefited from this largesse.

        The worry is that donations may be linked to future expectations. The perception is not good and the best way to ensure that inappropriate pressure is not applied is to remove the need to rely on these donations.

        To achieve this state funding will be required. It is nothing unusual, Australia and Canada and even the US (!) have forms of state funding.

        Many kiwis already dig deep into their pockets. With state funding more will but it will be a lesser amount. My calculation is that it would probably be about $2 per citizen per election year. For that cost they reduce the effect of big business on the political process and I think it is cheap at the price.

        • Pascal's bookie 4.1.1.1

          All we need is a mechanism whereby each citizen directs where their 2$ goes and there goes most of the objections around public funding. Tick a box at enrollment time.

          • Felix 4.1.1.1.1

            I like this for several reasons – one of them being that MPs should be you know, doing, like, actual MP work for us and not running around collecting money for any reason.

            I don’t see how it prevents them from taking backhanders though.

          • ripp0 4.1.1.1.2

            Hi PB,

            You mean like tick and charge later, or tick to enroll..??

            The former could be passable though I’d guess a barcode or something had account data on it.. and I’m far from sure about any privacy issues arising therefrom..

            The latter, I could see lower enrollments unless a really strong public educational job had been done prior..

            or were we tongue-in-cheek here.. 😉

          • Pascal's bookie 4.1.1.1.3

            ripp0:
            Ha.

            Nah, tick which pollie’s you want to get your already paid (via tax) share of the public funding.

            Have the tick separate, or detachable, from enrollment details to help with the privacy details. Or could mebbe have party membership as an optional extra to encourage the participation.

            The basic idea is to have public funding, without politicians deciding who gets funded how much.

            Outlaw other donations, especially from non natural persons.

          • jerry 4.1.1.1.4

            What about funding from the unions to political parties – surely that should still be allowable.

          • Rex Widerstrom 4.1.1.1.5

            All we need is a mechanism whereby each citizen directs where their 2$ goes…

            Bill & Ben must love you right now… 😛

          • Pascal's bookie 4.1.1.1.6

            jerry, I can’t see why they should be any different. At a guess I’d say they’d be happier not to feel they have to fund political parties. Care to explain?

        • Rex Widerstrom 4.1.1.2

          Hi micky… Yeah I accept what you’re saying and I accept that a) it’s not a lot of money in the scheme of things and b) it’s the quickest fix.

          But even if we were to adopt your suggestions I’d still like to see NZ also adopt mine. It’s just not good enough that we’re electing, to the highest court in the land, people whom we cannot trust to resist “fear nor favour”.

          And Felix makes the excellent point above that it wouldn’t stop politicians accepting additional money, under the table, from external sources.

          Additionally I’d ask whether you don’t in fact mean a candidate needs $20,000 to run an effective campaign? Or are we giving the incumbents a bigger advantage than they already have?

          If it’s candidates (and it seems the only fair answer is that it is) then mention of Australia is very relevant because Pauline Hanson is just the best-known of a large number of fruitcakes who stand for election and get paid per vote received. If, like her, you can get enough people to support you to get that figure up, but not enough to actually get chosen, you can be paid the equivalent of an MP’s salary while not doing their job (or indeed any work for the public at all). In Hanson’s case she received, I think, some $400,000 over the course of her personal campaigning (as distinct from monies paid to One Nation).

  5. senzafine 5

    For once Tane, I agree with everything you’ve said. Except perhaps the Dirty Money slur, but thats simply a matter of opinion!

    • lyndon 5.1

      Well, Friedlander said they gave MPs money so “[Forum] members in that area can go and talk to them about issues that affect our industry”.

      I suppose legally the question is whether the MPs see it that way, but it looks corrupt in that
      – if it’s not special access it should be free, and
      – if it is, they shouldn’t be selling it anyway.

      [hence – dirty money]

  6. I thought I had visited a different blog for a moment when I first read the post. I think tane is spot on and these dodgy donations are reprehensible.. Irrespective of whether it was a blue team or red team MP getting them.
    The inevitable call for public funding of parties is sickening. Pay us from the public purse or we will take backhanders from lobby groups?? Ummmm OK!

  7. Roger 7

    I don’t particularly like the idea that private donors might have some influence on policy. But if you don’t want private donations – presumably you want taxpayer-subsidies for political parties? How is the polling going on that?

  8. John E. 8

    What is going on here?

    Did any of these candidates exceed their spending limit? If Labour candidates do not accept donations, and National candidates do – when do we next expect to see a change in government?

    I am surprised that the group of National MPs with quite high donors was not mentioned here. I can’t remember who they all were, but donations from business of some $40,000 spring to mind. Think about it – what is the point of funding an individual candidate unless you think the INDIVIDUAL can do something for you in return. Perhaps these electorate MPs do more for favoured constituents than other MPs do. This would be the interesting or scandalous story if there was one.

  9. marco 9

    Just saw on the news and Worth is trouble again. It must be time for that muppet to fall on his sword, he is getting beyond a joke and hopefully Key shows some guts and axes him tomorrow.

  10. Trevor Mallard 10

    I also received a donation from the forum. I made it clear that the person who delivered the cheque, who is a major employer in Hutt South, had always had, and would continue to have easy access to me. As a major supporter of the development of rail network I don’t always agree with Tony Friedlander but local transport guys have a range of views – those with smaller trucks know that it will be better for them for the railhead for big containers to be in Wellington rather than Palmerston North. This requires enlarging tunnels so that the wagons with the big new shipping containers can fit through.

    We do need to move to state funding as in Aussie or parts of US system but it is not worth pretending the Nats are not going to raise more on top of that.

    $5k useful donation but because Hutt South pretty well organised and donation was late it effectively went into the 2011 camapign account. We of course did the right thing and put it into our levy in advance account with head office.

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