The battle against the Electoral Finance Bill goes legal

November 2nd, 2007 at 8:10 am by David Farrar

I am delighted with the application in the High Court for a judicial review of the Attorney General’s decision to notify Parliament that the Electoral Finance Bill does not breach the Bill of Rights.

That advice, based on a Crown Law office opinion, has been relied on heavily by the Government to discredit submissions from the Human Rights Commission and the NZ Law Society (and many individual lawyers) that the Electoral Finance Bill does breach the Bill of Rights.  In fact the Human Rights Commission correctly labels it a “dramatic assault” of two of our treasured freedoms – speech and political participation.

All New Zealanders should be grateful to Grey Power, the Sensible Sentencing Trust, John Boscawen and Rodney Hide that the are going to give us the opportunity to have a judicial ruling on who is right – does the EFB breach the Bill of Rights.

The court can not stop the Bill.  Parliament is supreme.  But if it finds that the Attorney-General was wrong in the Crown Law assertion there is no breach, then that will have a powerful and hopefully persuasive effect on MPs.

The initial court hearing is on Monday. I plan to be there.

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59 Responses to “The battle against the Electoral Finance Bill goes legal”

  1. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    I have read Val Sims assertions, and frankly they are eye-was. They list situations which will do nthing to stop rorting of elections, toothless prosecution powers, ways to criminalise the average person, all based on a hotch-potch of references to Canadian, US and British Law, which bear little relationship to the bones of the EFB.

    When pushed, to stretch credibility, her fall-back position is ‘well we have to defer to Parlaimanet on that one’ (my rhetoriacally slanted quotations).

    On top of which her assertions that NZ Law do not contravene The Bill of Rights, she is bound to admit that the British basis for her assertions only holds because no one has yet challenged it. WHich is tantamount to saying I know it’s dodgy, but so far, so good.

    This is the crock that the Government refer to when in answer to their critics they say ‘Our advice is that it does not contraven the BIll of RIghts” (Clark, Hansard 16th Sept.)

    NOw, who was it that tole us that Sims got a nice little promotioon AFTER she wrote this dubious piece of ‘advice’?

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  2. milo (525 comments) says:

    These people clearly have too much money if they can waste it on legal actions like this. Their excess money should be taken off them in tax, and defence of our rights left with the People’s Government, where it belongs.

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  3. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    This is precisely the kind of action Helen and co will not relish. It shines full public glare on their little ‘beltway issue’ attempts to suppress freedom of expression.

    It will certainly blot Helen’s copy book when she applies for any academic or UN post (though to be fair, she can now blame Burton in absentia).

    I hoe we all get our day in court, come election time.

    There’s nothing to see here, move on……

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  4. deanknight (263 comments) says:

    It’s doomed.

    The Attorney-General’s report is part of the proceedings of Parliament and therefore protected by parliamentary privilege and article 9 of section 1 of the Bill of Rights 1688.

    On parliamentary privilege (in relation to the recent fracas) see:

    > LAWS179 “Parliamentary privilege and the fracas in the lobby”

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  5. Robinsod (350 comments) says:

    DPF – I see you and Whale have put $10k toward the appeal. How much have you raised over at KTB? Oh and who’s donating? ‘Cos I heard it’s being used as a front for National party campaign donations but don’t worry bro, when I heard it I said straight away “nah DPF wouldn’t get into those kinds of shenanigans – I’ll ask him asap”. I’ve got your back bro.

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  6. Monty (980 comments) says:

    I am so pleased to see this action being taken and congratulations to all involved.

    I pray the action will be successful and then will delight in this corrupt government standing up and sayiong it is all okay and they are defending the rights of free speech.

    More importantly this needs to get legs in the media to wake to country up to Labour’s proposed corruption of out democracy. It would be interesting to see the arrogance of labour to shove it through regardless, but with this action, I can see the Greens and Winston First backing out with their support (I assume Prissy Peter has already seen the writing on the wall) – leaving Labour red faced, angry and confused.

    I also await the comments by the loony left on this blog, or will they stay away.

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  7. tim barclay (886 comments) says:

    If I get this right the feeble legal opinion that was used by the Attorney General regarding the Bill is going to be challenged in the High Court. I assume this advice to Parliament was a statute based requirement. Very novel. Monday will be about timetabling I assume. I am not confident the Courts will want to enter into this debate and will find a way to avoid it.

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  8. Monty (980 comments) says:

    Typical – Robinsod (and others will follow) and not address the court case buy try and thread Jack – do not fall into their temptation – stick to the debate. How much will Cullen et al be shitting themselves at the publicity this case will bring to this corrupt bill.

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  9. KevinOB (267 comments) says:

    At least it’s in the High Court where the Attorney General , being the chief legal officer of the Crown is duty bound to appear and defend it. Alas, he is a legal novice with some knowledge of history and a known penchant for tax hoarding. He will have to delegate the job to Val Sims’ boss from Crown Law.

    Still, there are the appeals: this all about law so there should be opportunity to take it to the Supreme Court, possibly several times if it referred back to the lower court on any issue. The Bill could be law before the matter is finally decided.

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  10. David Baigent (172 comments) says:

    deanknight Says that the Judicial Review is “doomed”.

    Well yes almost certainly, but it is another signal to the voter that something smells of corruption in high places.

    The members of parliament are forced now to ask themselves what are the consequences to themselves, in a very public way, if they are not careful.

    This Judicial Review has moved this rort by Helen Clark out of the beltway and onto the TV screens of every voter in New Zealand. (and into history)

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  11. Robinsod (350 comments) says:

    Yes Monty, I agree – DON’T FEED THE TROLLS. If you think this case is anything but a desperate publicity stunt you are kidding yourselves. It shows how little traction the EFB scaremongers are getting when they have to spend tens of thousands of dollars just to get a few headlines. My question is if this case run into next year (and the extended campaign period) will it’s costs be attributed to National’s campaign spend?

    Yous righties are just so cynical.

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  12. Graeme Edgeler (3,290 comments) says:

    Dean said:
    “It’s doomed.

    The Attorney-General’s report is part of the proceedings of Parliament and therefore protected by parliamentary privilege.

    My first thought too, however, there is no Attorney-General’s report. He didn’t make one – there’s nothing for Privilege to protect.

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  13. Gooner (995 comments) says:

    It may well be doomed Dean but I’d rather they try and fail than not try at all. At the very least it sends a message to Parliament that they can’t just impose such onerous restrictions on our freedoms without being held accountable, of sorts.

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  14. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    Yes David Baigent I agree. We only have to see Robinsod’s reactions to see how scary a bit of public attention to this issue is.

    Interesting counter to the loooong-draaawn ooouuut trial of Field which would drag past the next election, with this rather punchy little trial which as Robinsod has indicated, will be in the limelight during the election.
    Also, if this case will reap so many rewards for National, what is wrong with the Bill that would expose that fact? Or is it that Labour want to perpetuate a system that will ‘encourage, even incentivise cover practice” (HRC)

    Interesting also Robinsod’s response wasn’t

    “Good, now we can have this legislation put to the test through the courts and everyone will be able to see exactly how democratic it is. I’ve been waiting for someone to do their civic duty and quieten down all those nay-sayers for once and for all.” Or do they have something to hide. What exactly are they afraid of, if their case is so watertight?

    Reading between the lines, Robinsod’s remarks sound a lot like ‘There’s nothing to see here, move on…”

    Democratic right to be heard anyone?

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  15. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    Also, if this case will reap so many rewards for National, what is wrong with the Bill that would expose that fact? Or is it that Labour want to perpetuate a system that will ‘encourage, even incentivise cover practice” (HRC)

    sorry, ‘covert’ not ‘cover’

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  16. Graeme Edgeler (3,290 comments) says:

    Dean (sorry to pick on you) – but I note that you also believed that the report of the Auditor-General on pre-election Parliamentary spending – a report that both exists, and was published by Parliament – is subject to judicial review with a good prospect of success. Is there a distinction I’m missing?

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  17. deanknight (263 comments) says:

    It makes no difference. The reporting function is part of the proceedings and a decision not to report is similarly captured.

    This type of challenge has long been rejected. In Mangawhero Enterprises Ltd v Attorney-General [1994] 2 NZLR 451, Gallen J confirmed an alleged failure to report on Bill of Rights inconsistencies could not be challenged in Court:

    “In my view, the obligation imposed upon the Attorney-General and his response or lack of it to that obligation, can properly be described as a part of the proceedings in Parliament and therefore encompassed by Article 9 of the Bill of Rights 1688. …

    In the end it seems to me that the most significant aspect of this case is the fact that the prime safeguard upon which the plaintiffs rely, that of the obligation on the Attorney-General to report, is in my view a procedural consideration designed to ensure that Members of Parliament are fully aware of the consequences of the passing of a particular Bill as proposed. Members of Parliament are there as representatives of the community at large and in the absence of some entrenched Constitutional provision, it seems to me that the Court would be usurping the authority of the legislature if it endeavoured to substitute its own opinion of the legislation proposed.”

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  18. Robinsod (350 comments) says:

    We only have to see Robinsod’s reactions to see how scary a bit of public attention to this issue is.

    Lee – I don’t understand, are you saying I’m afraid of the public reaction? The only reason this case is being taken is to give oxygen to a failing PR campaign. It’s standard PR operating procedure.

    And when it’s chucked out of court (as it will be) you’ll all be going on about how the big bad government is interfering in the legal process.

    I’m interested in the way that when cold hard facts (like climate science, legal decisions and even Department of Stats figures) are put before you your reaction is to claim some kind of conspiratorial interference. Yes – anyone or anything that casts doubts on your prejudices is a conspiracy. You people remind me of holocaust deniers.

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  19. Graeme Edgeler (3,290 comments) says:

    Hey – like I said, that was my first thought (I had thought there was a case – it’s been mentioned again recently when someone sued a select committee for refusing to accept his submission), I just wasn’t a fan of the way you said that a report which didn’t exist could be protected by anything.

    And I still think that the Auditor-General’s report might be similarly protected.

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  20. deanknight (263 comments) says:

    GE:

    I think the position of the Aud Gen is different, even though they are strictly speaking an officer of Parliament.

    I haven’t got time to traverse my thoughts on the differences now but may do a post on my blog later.

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  21. david (2,564 comments) says:

    Good one sod.

    You slipped in that negative label “holocaust deniers” beautifully. Not really subtle but with a bit of repetition the label might stick.

    Pure gold straight from the section of the manual headed – “Demonise the opposition”

    Keep up the good work bro’ you will get your seat amongst the elite in no time at all with this sort of performance.

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  22. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    So, Robinsod, so what you are saying is –

    ‘There’s nothing to see, move on….”

    But anyone who does want to look is akin to a Nazi-Apologist or a Climate Wrecker ?

    And when was it wrong to question statistics, or appeal aginst a legal decision?

    Or is that going to be in the next Bill Labour puts before the House?

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  23. Robinsod (350 comments) says:

    David – you’re right “holocaust deniers” was a bit strong. I should have said creationists or the mentally ill.

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  24. Robinsod (350 comments) says:

    Lee – there’s plenty to see here. Like where the donations to KTB are coming from and why sensible sentencing is putting money into this rather than into legally challenging prison terms (which one might consider to be their core business). Or even (at a much smaller level) why DPF hasn’t mentioned he’s kicked money in for this case himself?

    Oh and there’s nothing wrong with questioning stats if you’re interrogating methodology, margin of error etc but when you’re saying Labour is using political influence to make the Department of Stats falsify results (as your lot frequently do) it’s time for (yes he’s gonna break it out)… the tinfoil hat.

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  25. The Natural Party of opposition (73 comments) says:

    I used to be unconcerned about the EFB, believing that it would tidied up in the select committee But after watching this promotional video from one of DPF co founders of KTB I am now convinced otherwise
    http://www.killthebill.org.nz/?q=node/251

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  26. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    So, Robinsod?

    About this thing when will it go before the courts, how long will it take to be examined?

    Will it be on the tele?

    Will they interview Helen about it?

    Will the interview Rodney and John?

    What do you think they will say?

    Will they use footage from Question time with Helen saying:

    ‘It’s to stop people like the Exclusive Brethren and John Key rorting the election process?”
    and
    “Our advice is that it does not contravene the Bill of Rights.”

    Will they show the advice on tele?

    I wonder if they will interview the Law Society and the HRC?

    Will they explain about that hidden bit in the legislation about getting Labour’s emergency spending legislation set in stone?

    I wonder if they will ask the man in the street for his opinions?

    It’s all so exciting!

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  27. david (2,564 comments) says:

    sod
    where are the donations coming from? people like me! simple answer really.

    No conspiracy just a concern for my rights, my freedom of expression and legitimacy of the Government.

    $100 was a small price to pay to assist with providing those things.

    Each according to his ability to pay! I presume that you have heard the sayings “put your money where your mouth is” and “actions speak louder than words”? You are witnessing both of those in action – quite impressive really!

    But hey, why not have a conspiracy theory to go along with it – no evidence needed!

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  28. helmet (807 comments) says:

    Yeah DPF, lame lame lame. People using their own money to apply for judicial review of a decision? I’m shocked and disappointed. What a bunch of selfish trouble stirrers.

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  29. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    OK DPF are you happy to outline roughly:

    a) where the donations come from for KTB?
    b) Is it a National Party plot?
    b) clarify that you have donated to this (like you said you had on the Freedom of Speech’ site)
    c) What makes this attractive to Sensible Sentencing?

    Then I’m sure that Robinsod will be happy to talk about the actual issue – whether the EFB is a contravention of the BIll of Rights, which many of us believe is the case, and which is now attempting a legal challenge…

    Actually I’m not sure. I think he will just try another tack to divert us from the actual subject.

    [DPF: Oh our accounts are on open book. If any media organisation wants to see a list of donors, they can do so. When I have the time we’ll stick them up on the site also. I made sure we had a policy of openness because I knew the usual suspects would tell lies. And so far not a single donor has asked to be anonymous.

    Yes the FSC has donated to the legal action, but it is not really connected with us. A couple of donors who donated to us have asked if their donations could be put towards the legal action, and we considered that as we had not yet spent their money, we had a moral obligation to pass the donations on – even though they were now legally with the FSC. Those who are undertaking the legal action are very very serious about getting a judgement from the court. The cost of the action is I understand quite expensive, and it is no PR stunt. The PR win will come from winning the case, not from a couple of minor stories on filing the case.

    I can’t speak for the SST or Grey Power, but I presume their motivation is they see the Electoral Finance Bill as a huge infringements on the rights of their members and supporters to speak out on the issues they join and support the respective organisations for.

    If it does not get thrown out on procedural stuff like parliamentary privilege, I’m pretty confident they will win. You see if you go through the 600 or so submissions, there’s a fairly significant number from Law Professors, QCs etc all saying it breaches the Bill of Rights. I don’t think there is a single one which claims it doesn’t.]

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  30. Robinsod (350 comments) says:

    David – like I’ve said over at KtB. It’s called astroturfing (as in fake grassroots campaign) and if you think that’s not what’s happening here you need to do the maths.

    Lee – What you’ll get is a few headlines now and then the case and the publicity around it will quietly disappear. And that’s exactly what the crew taking the case are counting on ‘cos they don’t want the thing opened up or they’ll be seen as the charlatans they are. If it goes long I’ll be very pleased to see it run publicly but you shouldn’t get your hopes up (though it is kinda cute).

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  31. Inventory2 (10,436 comments) says:

    Robinsod said “Yes Monty, I agree – DON’T FEED THE TROLLS. If you think this case is anything but a desperate publicity stunt you are kidding yourselves. It shows how little traction the EFB scaremongers are getting when they have to spend tens of thousands of dollars just to get a few headlines.”

    Bro – if the anti-EFB lobby has been so ineffective, why has Burton been dumped from Cabinet – surely you don’t swallow the “I want to put all my energies into winning my constituency” line do you?

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  32. Robinsod (350 comments) says:

    Lee – we don’t need to talk about the EFB and the bill of rights now. We’ve got some of the best legal minds in the country to clear that issue up for us. Perhaps we should just STFU and wait for the outcome? By the way, don’t hold your breath for a disclosure of KtB donations.

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  33. Inventory2 (10,436 comments) says:

    I’m happy to disclose that I am a donor to the Free Speech Coalition Robinsod.

    BTW – what have you got against Creationists?

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  34. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    Robinsod – “Perhaps we should just STFU and wait for the outcome?”

    thanks for that lucid summary of the spirit of the EFB.

    I shudder to think what this will do for Helen’s credibility as ‘Preferred PM’ It’s already taken a lot of straws to break the camels back but this might just be it….

    Kinda cute, I know… Thanks, But I still ain’t letting you buy me dinner.

    KtB – “Donations – Don’t tell me – It was the Exclusive Brethren”
    I look forward to Hager’s book on the subject.

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  35. Robinsod (350 comments) says:

    IV2 – I’m sure you did but I’m not so sure that the bulk of the money didn’t come from special interests. DPF could open the books and let us see.

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  36. Robinsod (350 comments) says:

    Lee – we’ll go dutch on the dinner ‘cos I know you’re a modern kind of a girl. I actually suspect it was a few usual corporate sponsors that made the donations (even the EB would find that pornographer Whale a bit hard to get into bed with). There’s an easy answer though – DPF can open the books (a move that would be very much in the spirit of transparency the KtB claims to represent).

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  37. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    Thank you David for those clarifications.

    Robinsod, oh Robinsod….

    You are like those brave in the string quartet who played on the decks of the Titanic as the great ‘unsinkable’ liner went down into the watery depths.

    iIm guessing, but you play the oboe, right?

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  38. Inventory2 (10,436 comments) says:

    Until the Free Speech Coalition registers as a political party, there is no obligation for them to open their books. I am trusting enough to make small contributions (diary note: make another payment tonight) on the basis that those in charge will use the funds wisely. I call it trust; you may call it naivety – to each their own! Personally, I can’t think of a better use than a legal challenge to the Government which is bound to be a headline-grabber. It might encourage a few more of the populus to actually take the time to find out just what it is that the government, with the support of the Greens and NZ First, is trying to do to our freedom of speech, and why such organisations as the Human Rights Commission and the NZ Law Society have been so strident in their condemnation. And that can only be a good thing!

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  39. Robinsod (350 comments) says:

    DPF – Cool let’s see the books.

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  40. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    But enough of your musical predelictions…

    Your tactic is a typical attempt to shoot the messenger when the news is not to your liking.

    Burton – sacked.

    Political allies shuffling uncomfortably away from the tainted legislation.

    Political enemies taking the initiative.

    Joe public informed of ‘beltway’ issue, and invited to judge it on its merits – at last.

    Private citizens getting involved.

    Inept legislative drafting.

    Questionable adherence to The Bill of Rights.

    Questions about objectivity or justifications for/ of advice.

    TV footage of Labour supporting it by accusing National of ‘rort’

    Flawed use of Select Committee instead of proper pub lic consultation.

    Novel approach to Electoral reform – by not involving all parties in the House.

    Hidden clauses to justify election over-spends.

    And the EFB’s reponse to this’

    “It’s all a right-wing conspiracy.”

    Banging the same drum that (narrowly) won the last election in the vain hope it will work again…

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  41. Robinsod (350 comments) says:

    Lee – DPF has said he’ll open the books. When he does and I’m proved wrong I’ll admit it. In the meantime are you aware of any polling on the EFB that shows any significant proportion of voters have even heard of it? You just don’t get how it works do you?

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  42. Whaleoil (767 comments) says:

    Typical of the left, when the song people are singing isn’t to their liking they shoot the singer and then try to blame the band.

    Personal attacks, lies and smears are the stock and trade of the left and thankfully Robinsod and Tane prove it unreservedly.

    Even when David tells you how it is you continue the smears and lies, if that doesn’t warrant demerit points I don’t know what will.

    Tane and Robinsod practise the internet equivalent of putting their fingers in their ears and chanting “lalalalalala I can’t hear you” when the facts don’t suit their wailing.

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  43. george (388 comments) says:

    This is a very high risk and probably stupid strategy by ACT etc. What if the court rules, as is likely, that it does not want to become involved in the matter? Then Labour can use the judgement to say that the Bill does not breach the BORA when of course it does. ACT always goes for stunts like this without thinking about the risk of downside.

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  44. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    Robinsod – “In the meantime are you aware of any polling on the EFB that shows any significant proportion of voters have even heard of it? You just don’t get how it works do you?”

    So why would you be opposed to someone publicising its existence, given that you have admitted that public knowledge of it is so slight?

    Is major electoral reform so unimportant to the electorate that we should just leave it to Parliament? Oh right, that’s what Val Sim said, wasn’t it?

    Same scratched record message, slightly repackaged –
    “Nothing to see here, just move on….”

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  45. dave (988 comments) says:

    Dean/Graeme
    If the court decides that the EFB contravens the Bill of RIghts ( BoR,) Parliament can still endorse the bill, correct?

    Therefore, should it do so, meaning that Parliament acknowledges that the EFB conttravene the BoR, but is happy to endorse that non compliance, what is the point of having bills complying with the BoR only for Parliament to decide that it is going to pass it anyway?

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  46. Robinsod (350 comments) says:

    Lee – I’m not against it being publicised and a full court hearing may do just that. If so no problem. But that’s not the game being played here.

    Whale – David hasn’t told us how it is and until he actually opens the books he won’t have. When you claim he has you’re engaging in spin. Actually, why don’t you open the books Whale?

    I would also suggest (as I have elsewhere) that it is disingenuous of you to claim you are being smeared when all that is happening is your own behaviour is coming back to haunt you. If you don’t want to be seen as repugnant stop doing repugnant things. It’s that easy bro.

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  47. Monty (980 comments) says:

    I have gone and made a donation today to the fund to help them fight the court action as well and although it is not large, it is important to me to contribute as my small way of helping this great cause.

    I have no problem with my name being listed as a donor – although I wonder what Labour will do should I apply for a government contract – they are known to be a nasty and vicious bunch.

    I hope this action gives the campaign legs, as the public need to be well informed about it. Certainly when I have explained to people what Labour are trying to do, they are shocked and several people have told me that there is no way they will vote for a party that wants to corrupt our democracy – (and one of those guys is a fireman who has supported Labour for 25 years.)

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  48. burt (8,316 comments) says:

    Monty

    Last time I made a donation to help somebody fight govt corruption retrospective legislation was passed and the court case was killed off. Wonder if this will happen again. If it does I bet Robinsod, Tane, sonic et all will be happy little campers supporting retrospective corruption validation just like last time. Labour good – National bad is all they know.

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  49. Robinsod (350 comments) says:

    I see you’re still pushing that “retrospective” barrow Burt – just ‘cos it’s got more syllables than any other word you know doesn’t make it catchy but good luck anyway mate.

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  50. Frank. (607 comments) says:

    One matter that is overlooked is that Members of Parliament along with others of those in the Service of the Crown, such as state servants, police, teachers, nurses and others in the health services etc have certain sections of the Crimes Act 1961 applicable to them only. Simply put:

    Members of Parliament breach the Crimes Act 1961 if they advantage themselves to the disadvantage of others – others being:

    Other Political Parties – Joe Blogg, voter – Police perverting and defeating the course of justice by not prosecuting i.e. covering up and never ever prosecuting anyone in the Service of the Crown for taking advantage of their position to the disadvantage of others. (Perverting the course of justice as we know is prosecutable.

    Ask your self this question? Did the Members of Parliament that passed the EFB through the House attempt to advantage themselves to the disadvantage of everybody else? The Select Committee considering the submissions were asked to weigh up this matter in their decision making.
    They were provided with prima facie evidence that Police covered up allegations of the Misappropriation of Helen’s Leader’s Funds.

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  51. Right of way is Way of Right (1,122 comments) says:

    Just to satisfy my own curiosity, more than anything else.

    Check out the Crony Watch!

    http://www.nbr.co.nz/home/column_article.asp?id=19184&cid=15&cname=

    Crony Watch special: the Sims

    Crony watch

    Answer Crony Watch this: why would minister Mark Burton appoint a no-name Crown counsel to join the “highly experienced and eminent lawyers” of the Law Commission, only weeks after the said counsel delivered one of the worst, most politically expedient calls on New Zealand human rights legislation in memory?

    Crown Law Office human rights team leader Val Sim, who in June signed off the government’s Electoral Finance Bill as complying with the Bill of Rights Act, was announced on Monday as a law commissioner.

    Mr Burton, the minister responsible for the law commission, is also in charge of steering the Electoral Finance Bill through Parliament.

    That’s the bill that the Human Rights Commission has called “a dramatic assault on two fundamental human rights that New Zealanders cherish, freedom of expression and the right of informed citizens to participate in the election process.”

    One of Ms Sim’s jobs at Crown Law was to check proposed laws for whether they breached the Bill of Rights Act; one of the few constitutional safeguards Parliament has. In June she reviewed the Electoral Finance Bill.

    Ms Sim wrote “I have concluded that the Bill is not inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act.” Mr Burton, who’s found no other friends to defend his bill, told Parliament “Some members have already suggested that the third-party reforms unjustifiably restrict freedom of expression.”

    But, he insisted, “They do not, and the Crown Law Office advice on this matter is clear in that regard.”

    The New Zealand Law Society has disagreed, saying “The bill seems to be inconsistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 as it limits freedom of expression in a way that cannot be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

    Just a difference of opinion between professionals? In fact, the Law Society said Ms Sim has simply ignored some of the worst excesses of the bill. “The opinion … by the Crown Law Office in relation to the present bill does not seem to engage with” the Law Society’s criticisms, it says.

    Let us connect the dots, in a way that Ms Sim failed to. There are three possibilities. Perhaps she is right, and every other human rights expert is wrong, that the Electoral Finance Bill is no big deal.

    Or maybe the woman who’s been made one of the loftiest legal authorities in the land just duffed one of the bigger questions she was asked to handle. Or maybe there’s another explanation.

    All we know is that Ms Sims’ was the one voice defending the rights breaches of an unpopular bill on which the government’s fortunes literally depend, and now she’s received a hefty promotion from the minister in charge of that bill.

    The remuneration of a commissioner, around $160,000, is more than a government lawyer earns, but the real payoff is the prestige involved in being a Law Commissioner.

    Ms Sim’s new colleagues include Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Dr Warren Young and Dr John Burrows QC, who are all recognised academic authorities in their fields. Ms Sim has an LLB from Victoria University.

    Crony Watch notes for the benefit of the conspiratorial that in August prime minister Helen Clark suggested the Electoral Finance Bill could be fixed by referring it to the Law Commission for remedial work.
    4-Oct-2007

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  52. Inventory2 (10,436 comments) says:

    Frank said: “Ask your self this question? Did the Members of Parliament that passed the EFB through the House attempt to advantage themselves to the disadvantage of everybody else?”

    I think you could argue pretty strongly that yes, MP’s from Labour, the Greens and NZ First are clearly trying to improve their chances or re-election to the disadvantage of National, ACT & the Maori Party through their support of, and the passage into law of the EFB.

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  53. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    Roway thanks for that coherent answer to the question I posted first thing this morning:
    “NOw, who was it that told us that Sims got a nice little promotion AFTER she wrote this dubious piece of ‘advice’?”

    This is getting to the heart of what detractors will say is a ‘conspiracy theory’
    But there are so many pieces of evidence to suggest this whole thing is a way for Labour to ‘rort’ the next election while cleverly claiming they are trying to stop National from doing the same.

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  54. David Baigent (172 comments) says:

    Lee C,

    “NOw, who was it that told us that Sims got a nice little promotion AFTER she wrote this dubious piece of ‘advice’?”
    This is getting to the heart of what detractors will say is a ‘conspiracy theory’

    It was Stephen Franks. http://www.stephenfranks.co.nz/?p=189
    Item “What has Sir Geoffrey done to Mark Burton?” dated 6th Oct 2007
    Look for paragraph 7

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  55. Frank. (607 comments) says:

    Right of way is Way of Right: Thanks for drawing attention to this matter.

    What a tangled web they weave. However it is unravelling and soon we will be exposed to “The Empress without Clothes”. Sorry. I must have that in a tangle as well.

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  56. Frank. (607 comments) says:

    Inventory2: Thanks for input.

    To complicate matters, I have lodged a complaint with the Police Commissioner on the lines that Mp’s supporting the Bill are trying to advantage thenselves to the disadvantage of others, and so are breaching the Crimes Act 1961. I hope the timing is good. Grey Power has a copy of the complaint.

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  57. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    Thank you Michael Baigent I noted para 6:

    “But Crown Law’s role under section 7 (giving those opinions on Bills) was supposed to be independently adjudicative. They are charged with blowing the whistle so that Parliament knows whether it is about to legislate human rights breaches. For some time (since before, but certainly throughout Val Sim’s watch) they have been easily mocked irrelevancies.”

    These criticisms appear to be legitimate, but they can be made with impunity. By that I mean the criticism makes such small impact. Those we criticise consider themselves so secure that they have no need to either address or remedy the problems, and so it goes on.

    Then we should follow the chronology of events which lead to the present situation with the EFB –

    So, is there something rotten in the state of Denmark?

    Are parliamentary accusations of ‘rorting’ actually pointing back at the accusers?

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  58. bwakile (757 comments) says:

    Frank
    Lodging complaints with the police won’t get you far.

    Labour have a protection order in place

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  59. Frank. (607 comments) says:

    bwakile: I am only carrying out Helen’s instructions:”Every responsible citizen will report any wrong doing to the appropriate authorities”.

    That is what this thread is all about:”Grey Power, the Sensible Sentencing Trust, John Boscawen and Rodney Hide are going to give us the opportunity to have a judicial ruling on who is right – does the EFB breach the Bill of Rights.

    If it does, as we mostly are convinced, then there is wrongdoing on those that sponsored the bill through the House. I call it testing the water.

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