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I thought the graph was trying to show why the third party limit is unreasonably low, and why the anonymous donation limit is such a small deal.
Fine, and I think it didn’t show that at all. Obviously the problem with third parties and anonymous donations is that there are quite a lot of them. Until you show what the aggregate is, or is likely to be, you have shown nothing but a big red dot that appears to be monopolizing something it isn’t. It’s like saying the biomass of elephants is bigger than that of ants, because “look at how big an elephant is compared to an ant”. As for the even bigger green dot, that’s not even apples with oranges, since only an unknown proportion of it could be argued to be for the same purpose of the other 3 dots.
Which is why I can’t understand what is considered so profound and revealing about this graph. I can only speculate that the colors have something to do with it.
The $69 million figure is misleading, DPF. And not because, as Kent Parker has said, it counts for the whole year, as opposed to the eleven months.
Because the Government is on track to spend $100 MILLION advertising its policies this year. There was a Herald article about it a couple of weeks ago, quoting Neilsen Media figures over the last four months, and extrapolating from that. So far the Government’s spending $8 million a month. That’s before we have new campaigns on sustainability, Labour’s “fiscally responsible tax cuts”, “building national identity”, and “families young and old”.
Yes IP not to mention the “Working for Families – You’re better off with Labour” $15m campaign in 2005. “Buy NZ Made” as a sop to the Greens and Winston’s flop the Gold Card, yep its a good time to be a creative in the ad business.
Ben Canadian electoral reform has made some inroads into union donations at least,
are you saying ‘free’ partisan perversion of the electoral process should be allowed because it is ‘too hard’ to stop it?
Where is the level playing firld claim there?
Ben, so because it is difficult to account for the financial benefits that Labour derive from the campaigns of Unions we should simply discount the value of all those people campaigning?
Excuse me, but what the fuck? I thought the aim here was to have a level playing field come election day, and while people are bleating about the effect of the Exclusive Brethren you are in effect saying that Union electioneering activity FOR the Labour party should not be counted because it’s too difficult.
Ben, I classify you and one of the more well reasoned commentators from the left. However your “because it’s too difficult” dismissal of potentially 10’s of millions of dollars worth of third-party promotion of the Government damages your reputation a bit, in my mind at least.
This is a Jolly interesting debate,what? My contribution is this;the EB pamphlets were a fantastic success because it has resulted in Labour introducing the outrageous EFB and upsetting the whole electorate.
Eat that u lefties,media experts,barstards in the Beehive and EB haters!!
The majority of that spend goes out on policies that National didn’t support
Sure I put the proportion at 39%, which is not a majority of the spend and is about what they got in the 2005 election (total vote count). National is not so impotent that none of the govt spending reflects policies that they have supported in some way or other and will continue to do so once they become govt.
I agree with Ben in that this graph is being used in some underhand way to illustrate how Labour has the system loaded their way. The govt is a much bigger animal than any single political party and is going to be a lot more expensive to run. While you may argue to the contrary, the govt ministries are supposed to be politically neutral and so in terms of electioneering 95% of the govt spend in election year should be considered neutral.
I have questions about the EFB regarding use of voluntary labour. If I employ a professional PR person who offers their time free, do I have to account for that as an expenditure (at market rate), or not? Is it a donation?
Kent, if it is ok for the union members, surely it must be ok for private individuals?
The point I was reaching was that any Royal Commission should invest in some kind of formual by which the voluntary time given can be accountable, otherwise, the EFB as it stands, rrepresents a blank cheque to the Union Movement to electioneer on the part of the Labour Party.
Which might explain
i) the Uninon’s strange silence on this huge issue of democratic representation
ii) why many union bloggers here and elsewhere are so keen to deflect the issue onto the role of ‘big-business’ in elections as the issue in corruption
iii) why the CTU Select Committee Submission specifically asked for ‘activity’ by unions to be exempt from the reforms of the EFB
iv) why the Labour Party agreed.
As I have argued previously. I am not opposed to electoral reform, if it done in an even-handed and unpartisan manner.
I appears to me that if we are to acknowledge the many strong cases for electoral reform that those from the left have been expressing, it would be surely impossible for them to argue against the ‘Back room boys’ as one refers to them cobbling together strategy designed to pervert the process. What is the difference between say 12 top Union Reps, using subscription money to promote a political party (without asking the members) and 12 business men using their own (without asking their religiohs community)?
At the end of the day, it is still big money, big time, big effort all towards the same end….
Accounting for union donations of cash: No problem. Accounting for individual unpaid time spent talking politics: Silly idea.
It opens the door to a world of hurt. How much should all the free work in support of parties be charged at, and how are you going to seriously keep track of it?
For exactly the same reason that free work is not taxed, nor should it be accounted for in campaign budgets.
I think it needs to be ‘acknowledged’, sure. The countless hours spent in free support of all the political parties are no doubt a big factor in their success. But to me the solution is that there is a counterbalancing allowance from the government that simply makes all these free and unaccountable donations less pervasive.
I know Nicky Hager made a big meal out of Don Brash getting free helicopter rides around the country last election. I find it hard to think how you can truly stop that kind of thing, though. It is perhaps worthwhile to track the realistic costs of moving candidates around during the campaign, but to do the same for every single supporter? The line has to be drawn somewhere, and I think informal conversations around the water cooler really is well over the other side of the totally impractical line.
The Exclusive Brethren did step over an existing line. Pamphleteering has long been accounted for. Probably not all the costs are accounted, but the big ones are, like the printing. But the real Brethren controversy was around the lies and evasions about who was behind it, which the rules are even clearer for than the accounting.
… and in terms of big money – it doesn’t get much bigger than a government minister directing how his/her department should ‘focus’ their promotional budget for the benefits of the party.
kent opined above that 5% of departmental may be designed to secure votes. aside from the possibility of it being more like 10-20%, that 5% still equates to $3.45m of public money.
this is extraordinary vote buying of couse, unless one accepts Labours argument that anything they spend has no influence on an election outcome while some chap with a placard on lambton quay represents electoral manipulation that must be stamped out.. for the sake of democracy.
Ben – [Accounting for free labour from unions during elections]
“It opens the door to a world of hurt. How much should all the free work in support of parties be charged at, and how are you going to seriously keep track of it?”
We should not be afraid of opening up a ‘world of hurt’ it has not dissuaded the government from doing just that in their handling of the EFB.
My proposition is tht some kind of formula should be reached and agreed upon, if the electoral process truly is going to be levelled.
Union electioneering – fine, if people want to do it on their own time, not while being paid to supposedly do other stuff by thier union.
If a membership has a certain number what is wrong with working out a formula which endorses a particular and accountable amount of support it can democratically, be expected to give?
Why should union reps be paid by thier workers to electioneer, when they are supposed to be representing their interests against the imperatives of the government?
Ben I suggested electoral reform desigend to create a level playing field, after the initial setting up of a ROyal Commission.
Not the EFB, which is hardly a reform, more a legal entrenching of one kind of rorting at the expense of another, so I agree; two worngs do not make a right.
Why is it a massive can of worms to estimate how much labour time went into an activity then count it against the election spend of the party it is in support of??
Union members don’t work at their jobs for free do they? they all have a hourly rate, it’s written down on thier pay packets in black and white. If I give one hour of my work time to electioneering while in work time, then It should be accounted for. Pure and simple.
If you are suggesting that the unions should be exempt from public scrutiny, while the activities of ‘big business’ should not. It would be as easy to argue the original EFB should not have happened on the basis it is too big a ‘can of worms’.
I’m self-employed for example. Every time I blog, I am robbing myself of my own labour time. I have to accept that. So if I were employed by a union, to write press releases, for example, and spent x hours a week blogging in favour of the Labour Party, how is this anything other than a rort of my employers’ cash and time,, my union members subs and trust, and of the electoral processes need for transparency?
Lee, there are surely some kinds of advocacy that can easily be accounted for and are totally partisan for a party. If you want to suggest what they are, go ahead. Give me an actual example from the real world. But there’s an enormous grey area in which large number of people that you are claiming are paid advocates of a particular party simply are not. They are just people who have an opinion about which party to vote for and are giving their free time to that end. You can’t stop this gap up and if you try you really will be killing freedom of speech. Like I said, 2 wrongs do not make a right.
you see the whole issue is about transparency. The left are very keen to see transparency when they discuss electoral reform viz a vis the EFB, but they are not so keen to employ transparency themselves.
Let us look at a hypothetical:
A union rep who sets up a partisan blog, and spends copious amounts of time posting in defence of Labour policy, while he is obvioulsy in work time. It has to be a hypothetical, though, because the covert nature of his or her advocay means taht he or she will only post anonymously. Where is the transparency they so advocate there?
So when you ask for a concrete example (though I don’t know why after you have already acknowledged it happens) it is as difficult to pin it sown as it is to work out the secret/anonymous identities behind the National party.
The contradiction I see in your reply is that if the people you refer to are acting in their free time, then fine, but what if they are at work when they do it? SOmeone is paying for it, surely?
The other thing, is that we have to acknowledge that the Labour movement is a massive capital interest, and influences governments.
It is interesting that you are suggesting I ‘really will be killing freedom of speech’ if I suggest limitations on the powers of unions to affect electoral outcpomes.
is this the level playing filed taht the left have been striving to achieve, or is ‘level playing field’ really code for ‘advantageous to Labour and the ‘Labour Movement’?