Granny Herald tries to defend itself against National Party bias by saying it ran a headline “I am not a liar” over Brash after he admitted on bFM knowing that the Brethren were going to issue pamphlets attacking labour, three days after saying he knew absolutely nothing about them.
Brash’s exact words were “I knew they were going to issue pamphlets attacking the government, and I said ‘that’s tremendous, I’m delighted by that because the government is lousy and should be changed.'”
Any ordinary person would say that amounted to consent to their distribution by the leader of the National Party.
But Brash’s was not the only National Party denial that was issued that day. Steven Joyce, the National party manager, wrote to the Chief Electoral Office that same day to say “the National Party had not authorised or consented to the publication or distribution of the pamphlets.”
That statement was all about the money. Joyce was replying to a letter from the Chief Electoral Office asking a number of questions, based on the similarity of the blue tick on the pamphlets to that used by National. One asked whether the National Party knew about the pamphlets.
We now know from the Hollow Men that Joyce did know about the Brethren’s activities and Brash and others knew about the pamphlets. Had Joyce told the truth, that the National Party knew about the Brethren campaign and consented to the distribution of the pamphlets, the Chief Electoral Office would undoubtedly have decided that their expense should be attributed to the National Party. An extra million dollars would have put National way over its limit.
National’s parallel campaign with the Brethren corrupted the 2005 election process. Also for a newspaper to argue that a million-dollar print advertising campaign would have absolutely no effect is about as silly as it gets. That is the real insult to voters’ intelligence.
The Herald can be excused for not knowing about this at the time, but not for not understanding now the implications of Brash’s denial on the National Party spending limits. The Electoral Finance Bill is needed so rorts such as this cannot happen again.