Archive for the ‘Electoral Finance Act’ category

The dirty tricks campaign to defend the EFA

June 5, 2008

The Greens and Labour, having rewritten our electoral laws to their own partisan political advantage, are realising that the public backlash against their dirty tricks, is greater than any benefit they may receivefrom silencing potential opponents with the Act. And partly as a result, they are staring at defeat in the ballot box this election. The whole purpose of the Electoral Finance Act, was not to end the practice of secret donors giving money to parties through trust funds, but help Labours partisan political advantage. When the initial Bill came out, it completely ignored secret donors, instead going overboard in silencing “third parties” (anyone who might run a campaign against Labour). Although the Bill was improved at select committeestage, secret donations are4 still allowed, they just are called “protected donations” and are channelled through the Electoral Commission instead of trusts. And tight restrictions on third parties still remain.

With their bid to steal the election through gerrymandering election spending laws to their advantage set to fail, these parties now face the prospect of a National Goverment (elected ironically as part of a backlash against the EFA) repealing the EFA (something which can’t come soon enough), and introducing new, more sensible electoral finance laws. In order to stop this from happening, the Greens are proposing to set up a sham “citizens jury” on state funding of political parties.

And this proposal is not just one of their wacky dreams. It turns out that 4.3 million dollars have been allocated in the budget for the citizens jury. And it was part of a previous agreement between Labour and the Greens. The terms of reference and advisors to the comittee have not been finalised, but don’t be the least bit surprised if they are done in order to help Labour and the Greens.

A good summary of what a citizens jury is, is availiable here. In short, a group of people are picked randomly from the electoral role, and “educated” (or in this case, brainwashed) on the issues by a group of “experts” (don’t be surprised if Mark Burton, Mike Williams or people like them end up as the experts, and lets admit they are experts. They are experts at dirty tricks) and then consult and come up with conclusions, which are then turned into law. Citizens juries are quite good in theory, as they are independent, represent the general population, and enable ordinary people to participate in the process. Ensuring they have non-biased advice (remember they are selected at random from amongst the country, and thus generally people not highly educated on politics) and truly representative is important.

Anyone with an education in politics can see that the citizens jury in this case is a mask to disguise a pro-Labour comittee as a independent comittee. For a start, if Labour and the Greens really beleived in citizens juries, why didn’t they have one on the EFA before it was introduced? Because they might not have liked its conclusions. Mike Williams in a forum on election funding said we already have a citizens jury, “it’s called Parliament”. This summarises their entire attitude to electoral law. No place for the ordinary people involved (rememeber the retrospective legislation for the pledge card Bill was placed under urgency, so as to deny ordinary people to have a say on it), only those who are elected representatives of the peopel, with the right to rewrite electoral finance laws a bauble of office.

So why have they changed their mind now. Because the New Zealand people might elect a different, less corrupt group of people to represent them in Novemeber (and the election will be in November, as that way will enable Clark and her cronies to cling to the power they love for the longest period of time). The Greens want to fast track the jury, to start and be set up before the election, so that National won’t be able to influence it. And then the jury, with it’s pro-Labour advisors will be brainwashed into reporting what Labour and the Greens want (state funding) and these parties will then use the report of this “independent panel” as a basis for opposing National’s repeal of the Electoral Finance Act (a promise, which they, as National has publicly stated its intentions in this area before the election (something Labour never did), will have a clear public mandate to carry out) and in doing so, subvert the democractic will of the New Zealand people who voted National to get rid of the EFA.

As David Farrar writes, “everything about this is being done the wrong way. The outcome has been predetermined. Instead of being set up in a bipartisan fashion on matters such as the type of electoral system, it has been set up to deliver just one result-increased taxpayer funding of political parties. Labour and the Greens both want that outcome, tried to do it through the EFA, and having somewhat failed are now trying to do it again.”

When dealing with electoral law issues, Labour have a clear record of corruption. We have gone under them, from the early election (2002, held under the utterly preposterous excuse that 11 minutes each day of points of order on the status of the Alliance made Parliament unmanageable), to the cancelled election (the by-election in New Plymouth that never happened, due to Labour passing retrospective legislation enabling Harry Duynhoven to keep his illegal seat in Parliament he resigned by reaplying for Dutch citizenship), to the stolen election (2005 with the pledge card after three warnings from the Chief Electoral Officer previously it was illegal, need we say anything more) to the silent election (this one, with the third parties silenced by the EFA). As Farrar continues, “Labour are quite simply corrupt when it comes to electoral law issues, and any process which involves them as Government choosing the expert panel which advises the Citizen’s Jury should be treated as naked self interest. Hell Mike Williams will probably end up as chair.”

Fortunately, we already have a citizens jury in this country. One that is advised through a free press, was previously advised through the free speech of political and third parties, and consists of 4 million people. And I look forward to that jury giving its verdict on Labour and the Greens come election day.