The beam in your eye

Written By: - Date published: 11:39 am, June 1st, 2012 - 53 comments
Categories: activism, greens, national, privatisation - Tags:

A tattered few on the Right are attempting to stir up an issue over the Greens using a bit of their leaders’ office budget on the citizens’-initiated referendum petition. The use of the $78,000 is completely within the rules and approved by the Speaker. The Greens, and the coalition, are helping us to keep our assets. Meanwhile, the Nats have budgeted $120 million to sell them. Who’s in the wrong?

53 comments on “The beam in your eye”

  1. The Baron 1

    I don’t get this. The Greens aren’t using the money to force anyone to sign the petition, and there is nothing in the rules that says CIRs have to be manned by volunteers is there?

    Makes no sense. I won’t be signing the petition, but I couldn’t care less whether the person asked me to is a volunteer or there thanks to the SJS job board. Good luck to them.

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 1.1

      “I don’t get this…”

      Simple. Corrupt people projecting their own ethics and behaviour onto others.

  2. ianmac 2

    One Graph tells a huge story James. Great.

    • John72 2.1

      I am sorry inmac, but that graph does not say a thing of any use. Neither axis is defined accurately. The source of data is unknown. It is an insult to the reader.

      • McFlock 2.1.1

        Nah, it’s just an illustrative diagram rather than a scientific reference.
        Pull the carrot out of your arse and chill out. 

        • Of course it’s not scientific- it’s not necessary to experiment to know that National are spending way more to tell people to like the policy than the greens are to ask them if they don’t, the figures are easily available.

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.2

        It shows. quite clearly, that the RWNJs, such as yourself, are complaining about a little itty bitty of spending but that you’re not complaining of the government spending several magnitudes the amount to do the exact opposite.

  3. Deano 3

    Parliamentary services money can be used for supporting MPs, apart from explicitly asking for votes.

    collecting petition signatures is clearly something that MPs regularly do, it’s not asking for votes. So, it’s fine.

  4. tsmithfield 4

    So, how are the volunteers being paid?

    If they are being paid on a quota or on a commission basis for signatures received, then I can see huge problems.

    • McFlock 4.1

      I bet you can – there’s no problem with the Green’s use of their office budget, so you start desperately grasping for something else.
      Funny how in the case of the nats we’re spoiled for choice in unethical/incompetent behaviour to comment on, but when it comes to the greens or even labour the pickings are a lot more lean. 

    • ianmac 4.2

      Come on TS. Expect better of you.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 4.3

      Its a flat rate , the ads say $18 per hour. But its only for a few weeks

      • tsmithfield 4.3.1

        OK. Fair enough. But I would assume that there would need to be some sort of measure to validate performance? Otherwise, the employees could be hiding away at home rather than collecting signatures, and picking up a pay cheque for nothing.

      • Fortran 4.3.2

        Is the $18 per hour cash in hand – or is it taxed as should be ?

        • McFlock

          I’m assuming you’re asking whether the advertised pay rate for a job is net or gross, rather than asking whether the Greens are supporting tax evasion?  🙂

        • felix

          You seriously think the third largest political party in the country would pay their employees in cash under the table?

          You fucking idiot. Go stand in the corner.

        • Deano

          If they’re being employed with Parliamentary Services money out the leader’s budget, then Parliamentary Services will be handling their contracts.

          I would suspect they’ve been taken on as contractors, not fixed term employees, in which case paying their tax is their business as they’re self-employed; if they’re fixed term, then Parliamentary Services will be doing PAYE.

          • Tigger

            Yes, they’re being paid under the table and will get bonuses if they compel people to sign against their will. Also they will illegal immigrants working without visas, they won’t keep to health and safety regulations, will drive drunk to and from work each day, will be carrying petrol in open containers and will be doing all manner of illegal drugs while on the job. Oh and also they’ll kill puppies and throw litter on the ground as part of their tasks.

            • Matthew Whitehead

              Sign against their will? What are they going to do, grab hold of people’s hands and put a pen in them?

              If you’ve got some actual evidence of misinformation or scamming, I’d like to hear it, because it’s probably absolute crap. The Green Party is one of the strongest parliamentary forces on the side of genuine, free democracy in this country.

              • felix

                I heard they were offering crystal meth and homosexual favours in exchange for signatures.

                • McFlock

                  I heard they were bribing people to sign using the PS money set aside for sign language translation services.

    • Deano 4.4

      the 2,000 volunteers aren’t being paid. The handful of temporary staff are.

    • Dr Terry 4.5

      tsmithfield, it is a contradiction in terms that a VOLUNTEER should be paid! I can only think that you HOPE to see “huge problems”!

  5. insider 5

    Are these the same greens that were crying poor over supplying dictation facilities to their deaf mp?

    • Deano 5.1

      they weren’t crying poor, they were crying ‘equal rights’

    • Lanthanide 5.2

      Yeah, I didn’t like the way the Greens handled that at all.

      The situation was that Lockwood Smith was entirely willing to let Mathers have the money out of the general (whatever) budget, but that the strict letter of the rules prevented him from doing so. He had organised a committee meeting with the appropriate people who could change the rules and approve the spending, it just hadn’t happened yet. The Greens went out and acted as if Lockwood had said “No, and that’s final”, which was exactly the opposite of what he had said.

      Now, having said all that, where Lockwood had failed is that this issue was raised within days of the election in November, and it could and should have easily been sorted out before parliament began sitting, but it wasn’t. It would have been fine for the Greens to specifically trumpet that, but they didn’t. Or if they did, they let the media skew it to the above “no and that’s final” interpretation, which is obviously a lot more juicy than just a straight “speaker is useless at managing his time well” story.

      • Actually the fact that it hadn’t been sorted by shortly after the time parliament started was exactly the complaint that the greens made, it was simply not the headline of stories that ran because that’s kinda hard to work into a short sentence in the kinda confrontational style that editors like. If you want the full story you need to at least read the first two paragraphs- by which time you would have had the correct impression.

    • Dr Terry 5.3

      insider, would you please save our time by ceasing to send nonsensical comments!

  6. tsmithfield 6


    • felix 6.1

      Go back and delete your other two comments while you’re at it, they’re both bullshit.

      • tsmithfield 6.1.1

        Be careful what you wish for. You’re going to find yourself very busy if you think that people should delete their posts that are in the “bullshit” category.

        • Dr Terry

          You are, in a democracy, welcome to send in your posts, even though they might be bullshit.

        • ianmac

          Many of your contrary views are worth considering TS. They often add depth as counter to the current debate. Please don’t make me Delete this comment.

  7. Lanthanide 7


  8. Nick 8

    First of all, the argument advanced by this post is stupid. The end does not justify the means. Suppose Russell Norman started robbing old ladies at night to get $78,000 to fund the signature collectors, then would that graph be a sufficient answer to the questions being asked? The Greens can’t engage in any method of unethical fundraising they choose just because the bar on the right is higher than the bar on the left. The argument for the Greens spending this money from their parliamentary budget ought to stand up on it’s own, even if John Key was organising the sale of SOEs on his free weekends.

    But I do think the spending is fine. Political parties are bulk funded, if the Greens want to waste their limited resourses hiring people to collect signatures then so be it.

    Just one thing though: Can we start calling it a “Political Party initiated referendum”? CIR is kinda misleading..

    • warren 8.1

      What part of “The use of the $78,000 is completely within the rules and approved by the Speaker” do you not understand? Come on, it was a very short post, you might have attempted to actually read it before firing your keyboard.

    • Are you arguing that the Speaker was wrong to rule this OK? If so, you can’t exclusively blame the Greens, you have to blame them and the government. I don’t see a problem with it, and nobody’s made a good argument yet that this is dangerous to our democracy.

      The Greens are citizens and also have a right to support CIRs, regardless of how you feel about them spending some extra money on a few temporary staff.

  9. A point well made. I like this graph.

    • Why? Comparing costs to something much larger is pointless. I could compare how much money I have to spend on promoting my political views on the peition compared to how much money they are spending and it would be even more unbalanced.

      It also indicates priorities – a probably futile exercise in PR petition compared to doing parliamentary work that will benefit constituents and the country.

      I don’t think this is good use of parliamentary funds, whether it wangles itself within the rules or not.

      Graham Edgeler made a good comment, about the disparity between party politicking resources (taxpayer funded) compared to the public who might have an interest in a petition.

      If I wanted to promote a petition I’d have to use my own money. Unbalanced democracy – where the MPs make the rules to give themselves an advantage.

      The same unfair advantage happens at elections, especially with travel costs.

      • Selling the public on asset sales you’ve made without their support is far less useful than asking the public whether they oppose them, Pete, and there’s absolutely no way to spin that in favour of the government or its two hangers-on.

      • Murray Olsen 9.1.2

        If you wanted to run a petition PG, Colin Craig would probably contribute handsomely.

  10. Andrew Geddis posts on this at length:

    Boo for my side. Boo!

    He also says Hypocrisy

    The initial problem with the Greens throwing their support behind the CIR process is that it leaves them somewhat open to charges of, if not hypocrisy, then at least selectivity. Because our last experience of CIR – the so-called “Smacking Referendum” back in 2009 – produced a pretty decisive vote against a policy that its member was instrumental in guiding through the House and into law. Yet on the day the vote’s outcome was announced, then-Green MP Sue Bradford responded to it by saying: “Even a large `No’ vote tonight won’t be a clear mandate to the Government to act in any particular way.”

    And hijacking CIR

    There then is a broader problem with a political party so deeply involving itself in the CIR process. When this was set up, it was designed to be a way in which broader civil society can send a message to parliamentarians on issues that it thinks important enough to mobilise around.

    So to now have a political party effectively bankrolling the process of forcing a CIR represents something of a distortion of its intent. Essentially, it is turning CIR’s from expressions of the views of a self-organising general public into yet another campaign tool deployed to advance the particular interests of organised political parties that are funded through public subsidies.

    And a few more:

    …it becomes pretty hard to rail against the influence of money in politics when you yourself are spending money trying to influence politics.

    …even if you achieve your goal of getting the requisite number of signatures and force a CIR vote on the issue, it is going to be tainted by accusations that it is just a Green/Labour stunt rather than a genuine exercise in demonstrating the public will.


    …that then hands the Government the perfect excuse to ignore the result of the vote, no matter how overwhelming. And that then makes the whole exercise a waste of time and money.

    Which brings me back around to my first point. We should just dump CIR’s altogether – not use them for things we like, while ignoring them for things we don’t.

    CIR – fine in theory, well, they would be if they weren’t toothless, but in practice a futile waste of time and money, especially as time goes on and political parties learn to use them to extend their own campaigning, abusing the intent of their own rules.

    • Regarding your first quote: The wording of that particular referendum was atrocious and unclear, which was why the Greens argued it didn’t give any mandate to oppose reform of the law. Years later the sky still hasn’t fallen and the push to reinstate that dinosaur of a defense that in excusing and ignoring child abuse has completely deflated.

      Regarding the rest of Geddis’ piece: The Greens don’t argue against ANY money in politics, they argue against money drowning out speech rather than being used to facilitate it from the grass roots. There isn’t any inconsistency or hypocrisy there, although I would prefer that referenda not be financed through parties, this doesn’t even approach bankrolling- hence the point of the graph- this spend is dwarfed by the amount governments spend on selling their policies to the public regularly, and that size difference isn’t reflective of the fact that the difference is qualitative as well as quantitative.

      • Pete George 10.1.1

        this spend is dwarfed by the amount governments spend on selling their policies to the public regularly

        I agree, and I don’t like a lot of the political advertising dressed up as informing voters.

        But that doesn’t mean a smaller amount makes it right.

        The amount the Greens are using to promote their peition dwarfs the amount that’s available to me or any non-party who might want to promote a petition.

        I’d love to have enough money available to set up a rapid referendum system that is available equally to any party, group or individual. This should be publicly funded and administered neutrally. Would Greens support that?

        The current system is far to slow and designed by politicians to be easily ignored, and is now being hijacked by politicians to push policies or anti-policies to the public, when it should be for the public to push their wishes on politicians.

        If the asset sale petition initiates a referendum it will be too late, and severely diminished in authority due to the degree of party involvement. Greens, Labour and NZF have made it even easier for National to ignore the results.

        • mike e

          pompous git how much funding do lobbyists give to the Nactional and united failure party

  11. bbfloyd 11

    my word, you out waffled your self on this one..! still pointless distraction at best, but an impressive quantity of it..

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