Last week, the government introduced a bill into Parliament – the Appropriation (Continuation of Interim Meaning of Funding for Parliamentary Purposes) Bill – aimed at bringing clarity to parties’ Parliamentary spending by extending the current definition of funding entitlements until 2009.
Indeed, it will be very clear that parties can spend money on whatever they want so long as it doesn’t directly ask for votes…
This ought to have been uncontentious
because the left likes stealing money, everyone else should too!
– the definition (with its ban on spending funds for “electioneering”, meaning the explicit solicitation of votes, funds, or members) is what everybody other than the Auditor-General
and the Solicitor General, Maori Party, Jim Anderton, Don Brash and most of National and the general public
has always understood to be the case, and the extension is necessary given the failure of the Parliamentary Services Commission to reach agreement on a better one.
Funny how they had all these months to do that, but according to Gerry Brownlee on Morning Report yesterday Labour only contacted other parties in August…
But of course the opportunists in the National Party, who leapt eagerly on the Auditor-General’s flawed interpretation last year,
Actually, I think they jumped on it a wee bit before that. In fact, maybe they listened to Mr Brady (wasn’t he listed as “Person of the Year” for his efforts?) and what he said several months earlier when Labour was caught with it’s hand in the jar.
have decided to oppose it, beating the “state funding by stealth” drum
Well, I’d rather hear National’s drums than the Labour violins that are screeching in our ears so much recently.
and raising the spectre of another pledge card (something which was in fact legal under the guidelines as understood by everyone other than the Auditor-General, but which of course should have been declared as electoral spending under the Electoral Act).
Yup, the card was legal. Even the one that said “paid for by Labour members”. And why wouldn’t it be, if the Labour party says so – it’s not like the Auditor General has any say over the law in these matters?
This is simply the height of hypocrisy.
Well, because Labour… oh, sorry – you were about to say something?
Firstly, because despite all their screaming about Labour’s pledge card,
Actually, due to gender balance issues, Labour screams, National shouts.
in May this year they were perfectly happy to put out one of their own, implicitly (but not explicitly) seeking support for the National Party, and bearing the Parliamentary crest – precisely the behaviour they supposedly object to (yet another case of one law for all – for everyone but National).
As I/S knows, the AG ruled that the proximity to an election counts when publishing. Publishing a pamphlet 18 months before the election, is very different from publishing one during the campaign.
And secondly, they informed the government that they privately supported the legislation, but that they would publicly oppose it for political reasons – a fact admitted to by Gerry Brownlee in Question Time yesterday:
Gerry Brownlee: I have in my possession a document that sets out the fact that National was happy for a rollover, provided it would lead to a much shorter election period. I seek leave to table that document…
Wow, an example of my previous comment. Gerry seeks to table a document setting out National’s true position, and it’s called an “admission” of guilt. In fact, the issue is murky, with Labour taking advantage of National’s good faith to claim support that was never there. Gerry’s document is explaining that – it’s the opposite of an admission of guilt.
Funny how he didn’t quote this part:
Hon Bill English: I seek leave to table an email from *Wayne Eagleson on 27 September to Heather Simpson making it quite clear that National will not be supporting the proposed extension of the existing legislation.
Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? Yes, there is objection.
I wonder who objected?
If there’s a more glaring example of hypocrisy, I’d love to see it.
…said the man with his eyes screwed tight shut, furiously duct taping his head whilst standing facing the far corner of a dark basement.
There are problems with the potential misuse of Parliamentary funding, but the problem lies in the Electoral Finance Bill, not the Parliamentary spending rules. Sections 58 and 81 (2) (g) of the bill specifically exclude from the definition of “electoral expense” material published by candidates in their capacity as Members of Parliament. So while these materials may fall within the definition of “election advertisement” in s5, they would not count towards candidates’ or parties’ spending limits. On the one hand, its easy to see why such a clause is necessary – MP’s publish a great deal of material in the course of representing and communicating with their constituencies, and this ordinary business of representation and advocacy should not have to stop simply because it is election year.
No, but it should stop for the 3 month campaign period. Clearly one of the benefits of the proposed 1 year ban is to make it impossible to stop abuse of the system.
And OTOH, this exemption also allows incumbent parties to pull tricks like the pledge card, effectively violating their spending limit and setting up a very uneven playing field.
Something we can agree on.
But the proper solution is to refine the exemptions in the EFB, not to try and cripple Parliament from doing its work and leading our national conversation.
Yea, “refine”. I guess that would be those “drafting errors”?
Unfortunately, National is acting in bad faith on that issue as well, and I don’t expect them to contribute usefully to a solution anytime soon.
Considering this guy’s calling National supporting open and free society bad faith, I won’t be holding my breath waiting for him to find something in the “useful contribution” category any time soon.
But that’s the left for you. Assault, lie and steal – so long as it’s for the cause it’s ok.
I actually find it quite sad to see the left reduced to this sort of level, it’s not pretty watching people throw away all pretence of integrity.