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The election year party donations returns

Written By: - Date published: 10:12 am, May 6th, 2018 - 40 comments
Categories: act, conservative party, democratic participation, election 2017, election funding, elections, electoral commission, greens, labour, mana, national, nz first, Politics, progressives - Tags:

These were publicly released recently and make for interesting reading.

And it should be noted that they do not include all donations that a party receives.  Non anonymous donations from a person that total less than $1,500 in a year are not recorded in the return.

The highlights are that Labour received $1.6 million up from $0.93 million last time.  National received an eyewatering $4.6 million up from $3.8 million last time.

Labour’s big donors included retired High Court Judge Robert Smellie, the unions and a group of artists captured by Labour’s treatment of their art sold at auction.  Prices paid over any return are I understand treated as donations.  Phillip Mills was also a large donor and has in the past made generous donations to Labour and the Greens.

National’s big donors included the interestingly named Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Industry (NZ) Limited.  Its shareholder is a Mongolian company with a similar name.  Perhaps Matthew Hooton, honorary counsel to Mongolia, is involved.

The vote per dollar donated analysis is interesting.  Some parties spent lots of money getting little support.  ACT was beaten only by the New Zealand People’s party whose donation of quarter of a million dollars by Roshan Hauinca resulted in not many votes.

Party Total Party Donations Vote $ per vote
ACT New Zealand $783,830.17 13,075 $59.95
Conservative Party $62,027.26 6,253 $9.92
Green Party $848,468.97 162,443 $5.22
Internet Party $882.42 499 $1.77
Labour Party $1,611,073.77 956,184 $1.68
MANA $2,708.00 3,642 $0.74
Māori Party $388,860.60 30,580 $12.72
National Party $4,579,086.44 1,152,075 $3.97
New Zealand People’s Party $259,985.30 1,890 $137.56
NZ First $546,253.77 186,706 $2.93
The Opportunities Party (TOP) $2,344,110.50 63,261 $37.05

And it shows Labour’s advantage over National and its disadvantage.  Labour has always had fewer financial resources but better activists and a greater moral authority.  Long may this continue.

Update:  A regular reader has asked me to point out that Inner Mongolia is actually a province of China and that the company has no connection with Mongolia, any Mongolian citizen or to Matthew Hooton.

40 comments on “The election year party donations returns ”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    National’s big donors included the interestingly named Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Industry (NZ) Limited. Its shareholder is a Mongolian company with a similar name.

    We, like the US and pretty much every other country in the world, should stop foreign donations. This seems like a foreign donation to me but probably gets round the rules by being a company registered in NZ.

    Labour has always had fewer financial resources but better activists and a greater moral authority.

    That’s because Labour and all other Left-wing parties are doing it wrong. I suspect it probably has something to do with how donations are addressed in law because what they need to do is to have their members donating $1/week rather than relying upon large donations from rich people and corporations. $1/week will probably be addressed as fees rather than donations though.

    We actually need to shift from the present model of large donations to either small donations or none.

  2. chris73 2

    Puts to rest the belief that money buys you elections I feel

    • AsleepWhileWalking 2.1

      Well I’ve never heard of the NZ People’s Party so that’s go to be the worst marketing in election history.

    • Matthew Whitehead 2.2

      Well, no, it doesn’t, it just shows that money is not the only factor. If you pour dollars into a party like ACT, sure, you’re wasting those dollars. But National has so much money it legally can’t spend it all on the campaign, (this is arguably why wealthy donors are even bothering with ACT- there’s only so much non-campaign spending that’s helpful) and still gets a very large amount of votes per dollar despite that. Part of this is about the challenges of being a small party- it takes a large amount of dollars to support the infrastructure of running a party and a political campaign, (two interrelated but semi-seperate things) so Labour and National have a built-in advantage in dollars-per-vote because there are efficiencies to being so large. It would be much more revealing to my mind to compare money spent on political campaigns versus votes, and put that in context of how effective each party’s campaign messaging was. I expect in general you would find a very high correlation there.

      Besides, the problem with money buying elections isn’t just on the voter end. It’s on money influencing policies. Arguably the reason we have such a centrist Labour Party in New Zealand isn’t actually because the voters want it that way, it’s because that’s how they get the money from donors they need to support a large party and large campaign. It is a self-perpetuating corruption cycle.

      The sooner we can bring in a sensible public financing system, the better, IMO.

      • dukeofurl 2.2.1

        So called ‘allowable campaign spending’ only covers what could loosely be called ‘advertising’ such as bill boards, media ads, phamplets and associated costs.

        Lots of campaign spending doesnt need to be identified, a biggie is polling, market research, focus groups and so on. Others with more knowledge may identify expensive parts of elections that can be kept quiet.- Im wondering how facebook fits in here as its ‘technically billed to Ireland , do you only itemise the local part ie commission?

        Some new national Mps , seem to be able to leave their last job and campaign full time from the time of their selection – are they given a ‘party wage’?
        National of course has lots of party expenses not covered by public funding – Golden parachutes for departing Mps ?

        • Matthew Whitehead

          As long as they’re not push-polling, I am fine with polling, focus groups, and other similar research activities being exempt from campaign spending limits. The point of spending limits is to make sure advertising isn’t a substitute for speech, but research activities are the money equivalent of listening, (actually, they’re valuable ways to clarify the anecdotes politicians collect on the campaign trail, so they’re not JUST about using money effectively, they’re about understanding how many people think the things your supporters are telling you) rather than speaking, and I would absolutely rather politicians know what the electorate is thinking.

          My understanding is that the regulation is on spending by parties, not on where the recipient of that spending is situated, so I’d be very surprised if facebook ads didn’t count.

      • Ad 2.2.2

        If you want to talk about influencing policies, you would need to face up to the unions balls deep into the Labour Party. No National equivalent to it.

        Even Federated Farmers would blush at that level of influence into campaign finance and executive committee and candidate selection and policy committees that Labour enables from unions.

        • Hanswurst

          If you want to talk about influencing policies, you would need to face up to the unions balls deep into the Labour Party. No National equivalent to it.

          Wonderful piece of false equivalence there. Next you’ll be asking us to face up to the influence of voters on the outcomes of elections.

        • Marcus Morris

          I get so tired of this old chestnut. The Labour Party was the political voice of the Trade Unions and, once upon a time, no one had any illusions about it. Those of us who still cherish the notion of the Welfare State are very grateful for that and are still angry that, for far too long, the Labour Party was in the thralls of Neo-liberalism. To think that the Tories do not come under the influence of their large donors is simply naive. Think “Road Users Association” for a start. It may not have quite the same influence now but Federated Farmers must have exercised huge sway within the National Party for much of its history and recall the very nasty campaign it fired up against Jacinda Arden in the latest campaign.

        • dukeofurl

          Most unions arent affiliated to Labour, so have no ‘inside influence’

          There is the other matter, unions are their membership, often in the 10’s of 000’s.
          How many 000’s of people does the Mongolian Horse’s Arse represent ?

        • Matthew Whitehead

          For sure, they are. The question becomes whether that influence is inappropriate due to donations, or whether it’s powered by the members of those unions, in which case, it’s the same as any other faction of a political party- having lots of members onside buys you lots of party influence. As I have no direct dog in the game with the Labour Party, I’m a poor person to answer that, but I will say that “unions having too much power” is really low on my list of worries about the Labour Party right now. Maybe that’s wrong, but I will leave it to people who know the party better to make that call.

      • Gosman 2.2.3

        I thought Labour was meant to be good for business as well as workers or is that not true?

        • Matthew Whitehead

          Labour having better economic policies for business than National does is absolutely true IMO. But that doesn’t mean I want the party reliant on big donations to survive- Labour should be developing policy based on what’s actually better for us as a nation, rather than on what gets them donations to continue on as a large party.

          Public financing would level the playing field a lot in terms of party finances, and it will avoid Labour going further down the path of the US Democratic party, which is essentially paid to lose by big business.

          • Gosman

            You will never get public financing of political parties through Parliament especially if you further restrict private financing.

    • AB 2.3

      That’s a deliberately disingenuous reading of the numbers. Nobody claims any absolute correlation between money spent and results obtained – there is no direct ‘buying’ of anything.
      The purpose of money is to make enough of a difference to tip the result in your favour – often just movements of a few % in popular support at the margins.

      So these numbers do not constitute any argument against the urgent need to reduce the influence of private money in politics. Fortunately we are nowhere near as bad as the USA yet.

      • Nick K 2.3.1

        Exactly. There are election spending caps so a party could raise $10 million yet still only be able to spend as much as the next party.

        • mickysavage

          The cap is only on advertising related spending. There are plenty of other things the money could be spent on.

          • Nick K

            How dreadful that political parties in a democracy are able to spend their own money. We must stop that!

            • dukeofurl

              Dont you mean ‘donors money’ Only a fool would think so much big donations is strings free.
              TOP is a prime example. The party was a mirror to the one donors needs and wants

              • Nick K

                Very true. The unions give huge money to Labour in return for the laws they want.

                • dukeofurl

                  Really .
                  The ‘huge money’ goes to national, what does your research show the big donors for national are getting.
                  National gets $1 mill from large donors, unions give how much ?

            • greywarshark

              Nick K
              You are mendacious. Money for promotion and advertising and propaganda and just spreading the Party name over the minds of voters – it makes a difference. You know it does. Politicians are judged in USA by the amount of funding they can garner for themselves and the Party they have allegiance to. The same here.

              Little scornful jibes by you shows that you are a RW lightweight that doesn’t give serious thought to having a good political system that is as fair and equitably run as possible.

    • Nic the NZer 2.4

      Thats a mighty stupid belief. The money buys the politicians not the elections, duh.

      • greywarshark 2.4.1

        Nic the NZer
        You are the stupid one. You come to this blog and could learn something.
        But there is only room for one idea at a time in your brain. Let it spread out with a mind exercise each morning – Try to understand one impossible thing every morning before breakfast.

        Eric Clapton when he was young had to go through this learning stage –
        He sang Let It Grow. Listen and learn.

    • Ad 2.5

      A decent integrated policy set and a charismatic leader wastes the Tory donors for voter yield.

      And Tory money doesn’t buy you friends – the friends you need to form a government.

    • Incognito 2.6

      I feel that 44.4% + ACT was way too close for comfort. I feel that money has a lot to do with it but it is just a feeling …

  3. Incognito 3

    Call me cynical but those amounts of party donations may in their own right influence public and voter opinion. It is easy to spin it as a ‘measure’ of past, current, and future success and some kind of justification of part policies and ideology. A party with an overflowing ‘war chest’ is more likely to be viewed as a potential winner – politics is war by other means. In other words, money speaks, almost literally.

    • Nick K 3.1

      Yeah, well I’ll remember that when/if the left introduce state funding of political parties.

      • dukeofurl 3.1.1

        So much ignorance. State has funded parties in parliament for some time.

        Outside the regulated period, Parliamentary Service funding is available for MP communications as long as they have a parliamentary purpose and do not ask for money, votes, or party membership.

  4. mickysavage 4

    Wow Donghua Liu gave $20k to the Māori Party. That name brings back memories …

  5. Gosman 5

    Why are many on the left so worried about money in politics?

  6. mosa 6

    At least on the left side you always get full disclosure of donors contributing so everyone is in no doubt as to where the money comes from unlike the National party and its media friends who always hope to stir hysteria around trade union influence for the Labour party but set up an anonymous trusts like Waitemata to conceal their friends and supporters from public scrutiny.

  7. Philg 7

    The Party ‘Donations’ inequity only proves how bought our system of Dimocruptcy is.

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