The Validating Bill

October 18th, 2006 at 8:17 am by David Farrar

This went up yesterday on the Parliament website. The bill has gone through the first and second readngs and is now in committee stage where amendemnts can be considered. It will get voted on either part by part or clause by clause. There are seven clauses, of which four do the business:

Clause 4 defines the appropriations to be validated as being from 89/90 to the current day. This goes beyond what is needed. The Auditor-General has not found there to be illegal expenditure before 04/05. There is no legal requirement to validate back to 1989. Going back that far is Labour making a political statement that we believe the Auditor-General has changed the rules, so we need to validate all the way back. The Auditor-General is quite adamant he has not changed the rules.

Clause 5 validates the expenditure and deems it not have have breached the Cvil List Act or the Parliamentary Service Act(s). What is not clear to me is whether it does totally kill off the Darnton v Clark lawsuit. That lawsuit alleges a breach of the Constitution Act 1986 s.22(c), the Public Finance Act 1989 sections 4, 5 and 9, and Article 4 of the Bill of Rights 1688.

This is the problem of rushing stuff through under urgency – Parliament does not have time to make a considered decision. The best course of action would be for the Committee of the Whole to amend the Bill to specifically exempt the lawsuit (which was filed many months before the Auditor-General’s report) from being affected by the Bill. I hope all the minor parties would support this (it only affects Labour’s pledge card) and even Labour might agree that to kill off the lawsuit by retrospective legislation is an abuse of Parliament.

Clause 6 says this Act doesn’t affect the criminal liability of any person. That is good. What again is unclear (lawyers please chime in) is whether the offences listed under the Public Finance Act for breaches of it (and one lawyer has suggested Heather Simpson could well have a case to answer) are offences of “criminal liability”?

Finally Clause 7 over-turns the Auditor-General and former Solictor-General’s determination of the law, and redefines electioneering as Labour wants it to be. This definition will last until Dec 2007 and is:

“Any communicatiion that explicitly seek seeks support for the election of a person … seeks support for the casting of a party vote … encourages any person to become a member … solicits financial support”

The key word here is explicit. This has just legalised Labour’s pledge card for the next 15 months. If you have an early election, Labour can now legally plunder the taxpayer again. This definition allows state funded newspaper adverts the week of the election etc.

Here’s an example of what would be legal under these rules:

Party B is going to destory this country with its policies. They have to be stopped. They will abolish the minimum wage and force children into slavery. If you don’t want this to happen, well don’t forget to vote at the election this Saturday”

Now this does not explicitly seek the party vote for a particular political party so is legal if this bill gets passed.

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112 Responses to “The Validating Bill”

  1. Graeme Edgeler () says:

    The offences one consider might have been committed (breach of s 76(2)) are criminal. Offences against s 76(1) – which I don’t think are in play – are not criminal.

    (See Crimes Act 1961, s 2 “definition of crime” and s 329 for summary offences that are triable indictably)

    As for the possibility of an election next year with taxpayer funded ads, yes they could, but everyone who cares would know to look for a Parliamentary Crest, and they’d lose lots of votes.

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  2. sonic () says:

    So we are against people running negative ads even if they fo not call for a vote for a particular party?

    Exclusive Brethren anyone?

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  3. Spam () says:

    Sonic:

    Are the EBs going to be taxpayer-funded?

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  4. Owen McShane () says:

    Helen is on the wrong end of a private legal action.
    She may well have been found guilty.
    So she is arranging for the passing of retrospective legislation to get her off the hook.
    She had an obvious conflict of interest and should not have been in the house.

    I am sure Standing Orders prohibit anyone voting in Parliament when they have a clear conflict of interest.

    Therefore this Act may not be legal.

    Get an opinion from Bill Hodge or someone.

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  5. David Farrar () says:

    Sonic – out of taxpayer funds we certainly are!!

    Graeme – the bill does not require the crest on the advertisements.

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  6. DavidW () says:

    or even

    “If National get in they will evict you and sell your state house out from under you.”

    In comparison, the EB’s put up what I consider reasoned arguments to not support the Green Party policies (refer to Sir Humphries analysis of the EB pamphlets)

    who really unleashed the attack dogs in the last election?

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  7. Owen McShane () says:

    Helen is on the wrong end of a private legal action.
    She may well have been found guilty.
    So she is arranging for the passing of retrospective legislation to get her off the hook.
    She had an obvious conflict of interest and should not have been in the house.

    I am sure Standing Orders prohibit anyone voting in Parliament when they have a clear conflict of interest.

    Therefore this Act may not be legal.

    Get an opinion from Bill Hodge or someone.

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  8. DavidW () says:

    Owen,

    If you are right (although the Speaker apparently disposed of Conflct of Interest points yesterday) then claims of breach of privilege would be the next logical course.

    Tui ad anyone –

    “the Speaker is impartial …. yeah right”

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  9. Graeme Edgeler () says:

    Owen – Standing Orders do not do that.

    They merely require that before that person votes they declare any financial interest.

    Moreover, as DavidW impliedly notes, that matter has already been determined – standing order 167 notes:
    “If any dispute arises as to whether a member has a financial interest, the matter is referred to the Speaker, whose decision is final.”

    The Speaker ruled, and on reflection, I think it’s the right one.

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  10. sagenz () says:

    Financial interest – continuing to receive a prime ministerial salary. The speakers decision is final. Oh well conflict of interest, more corruption. The list goes on

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  11. Sinner () says:


    So we are against people running negative ads even if they fo not call for a vote for a particular party?

    Exclusive Brethren anyone?

    We are not — but Labour certainly is.

    We’re in favour of any and all advertising by anyone – provided they pait for it themselves. It’s called democracy

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  12. Graeme Edgeler () says:

    tt – this Bill has nothing to do with the Electoral Act.

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  13. sonic () says:

    This is funny.

    http://img.scoop.co.nz/media/pdfs/0610/agflowchart.pdf

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  14. Conor () says:

    David,

    Clause 4 was required by Treasury who said the ruling called into question all spending from 1 July 1989 and advised those expenses be validated.

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  15. Rumpole () says:

    David
    “Any communicatiion that explicitly seek seeks support for the election of a person … seeks support for the casting of a party vote … encourages any person to become a member … solicits financial support” Does this mean that anyone including National can spend whatever they like advising electors who not to vote for & why?

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  16. Conor () says:

    David,

    Clause 4 was required by Treasury who said the ruling called into question all spending from 1 July 1989 and advised those expenses be validated.

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  17. David Farrar () says:

    Conor – that has been asserted but I have been unable to get a copy of the advice to read it myself. Based on media reports the advice said there *may* be implications.

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  18. Craig Ranapia () says:

    Conor:

    Well, Treasury may assert that. Still, it’s interesting to note how much Treasury advice is airily dismissed as ‘an ideological burp’ by Dr. Cullen when it suits. Then again, to be fair, it’s a good rule of thumb in most areas of life that it’s always easier to be heard when you’re saying what the object of your attention wants to hear.

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