The allocation of the broadcasting money is governed by the Broadcasting Act 1989, specifically Part 6.
Section 75(2) sets out the criteria the Electoral Commission shall have regard to, in allocating time and money. They are:
(a) The number of persons who voted at the immediately preceding general election for that party and for candidates belonging to that political party; and
(b) The number of persons who voted at any by-election held since the immediately preceding general election for any candidate belonging to that political party; and
(c) the number of members of Parliament who were members of that political party immediately before the dissolution or expiration of Parliament; and
(d) Any relationships that exist between a political party and any other political party; and
(e) Any other indications of public support for that political party such as the results of public opinion polls and the number of persons who are members of that political party; and
(f) The need to provide a fair opportunity for each political party to which subsection (1) of this section applies to convey its policies to the public by the broadcasting of election programmes on television.
Now according to Labour, the weighting used by the Commission in 1996 was:
- Votes at last election – 1.5
- By-election Results – 0.25
- Number of MPs – 1.0
- Party Vote Polls – 2.0
- Electorate Vote Polls – 1.0
They supported this weighting in 2005. Now in 2008 they advocate equal weight to all criteria. They correctly note there have been no by-elections but incorrectly note there are no public electorate vote polls, so correcting for their confusion mistake, their 2008 submission should be
- Votes at last election – 1.0
- Number of MPs – 1.0
- Party Vote Polls – 1.0
- Electorate Vote Polls – 1.0
Now what are the results for the eight parliamentary parties on each criteria:
Votes at last election
Labour make three further errors in their submission. They add up National’s PV and EV incorrectly and give National 100,000 too many votes – 1,892,687 instead of 1,792,687. Also they have NZ First electorate vote out by 1,000 – they cite 77,117 when it is 78,117. Their combined total is correct though.
Another huge error is United Future. They cite the individual votes correctly, but add them up to get 153,026 instead of 124,346. Really – this level of error is shocking for a formal submission from a major political party.
Number of MPs at Dissolution
Note that the percentages are just out of the eight parliamentary parties which applied for funds, to establish relative weightings.
Party Vote Polls
Is is usual to look at public polls over the previous 12 months, in this case being April 2007 to March 2008. There were 63 polls published during that period and their average ratings are below:
Labour claims National is 49.2%, Labour 36.3%, Maori 2.4%, ACT 1.0%, NZ First 2.9%, Maori Party 2.4%, ACT 1.0% and UFNZ 0.7% with no result for Progressive. All fairly close to what I make it except Labour over-stated by 0.5%. I have included nine TVNZ polls, six TV3 polls, 23 Morgan polls, 10 Herald polls, three Fairfax polls and 12 UMR polls.
Electorate Vote Polls
Colmar Brunton and One News do regularly poll on the Electorate Vote. There were nine polls from April 2007 to March 2008. The averages were:
|2005 Vote||MPs||PV Polls||EV Polls||05 weighting||08 weighting|
The 05 weightings are based on the 2005 Labour submission which suggested the 1996 weightings be used. The 08 weightings are based on their new suggestion (Labour basically argues whatever favours them each time rather than a consistent approach) of equal weighting for all criteria.
Now what happens if we give $10,000 to each party not in Parliament, and apply the rest between the eight parliamentary parties. Eleven parties grab $110,000 leaving $3,102,000 for the other eight.
|05 weighting||08 weighting||05 Amount||08 Amount|
|National||45.7%||45.4%||$ 1,419,000||$ 1,408,002|
|Labour||38.8%||39.1%||$ 1,202,643||$ 1,213,034|
|Maori||2.7%||2.8%||$ 84,968||$ 88,061|
|ACT||1.3%||1.3%||$ 40,201||$ 40,593|
|NZ First||3.9%||3.9%||$ 119,508||$ 121,881|
|UFNZ||1.5%||1.5%||$ 45,769||$ 46,596|
|Green||5.4%||5.2%||$ 168,557||$ 161,545|
|Progressive||0.7%||0.7%||$ 21,354||$ 22,289|
|Total||100.0%||100.0%||$ 3,102,000||$ 3,102,000|
Now remember again the 05 and 08 amounts are not for different elections, but based on what Labour argued in 2005 and 2008, for this allocation.
Now the Electoral Commission tend to try and group parties together in tiers, rather than strictly apply a formula. So what would those tiers be, on this analysis.
Tier 1 – National and Labour. Almost every party has said they should get the same amount. There is a case for National to get up to $200,000 more but the reason I can’t support this is because this is not just a funding entitlement, but a funding cap for broadcasting. So if Labour get $200,000 less funding than National they are prohibited by law from spending as much as National on the campaign. This is wrong. Sure Labour benefited from this in 2005 and refused to change the law, but as a matter of principle the two major parties should get the same, so they can spend the same amount.
Tier 2 – The Greens are clearly a Tier 2 party. They average over 5% and got over 5% last time. One could argue NZ First and Maori Party are Tier 2 but there is quite a gap back to them, and in the end I conclude the Greens deserve a Tier to themselves as they are double the support levels of the next Tier.
Tier 3 – NZ First and Maori Party. When you combine electorate and party vote polls they are both at around 2.5%. Maori Party is also ahead in all seven Maori seats on known polls. Against that NZ First got 2.5 times as many party votes in 2005, and around the same level of electorate votes. So I peg them around the same.
Tier 4 – ACT, United Future and Progressive. They are all polling below below 1% and all have one electorate seat. I don’t see the grounds exist this time to put Progressive in a tier of their own.
Tier 5 – All registered parties not in Parliament who applied.
Tier 6 – All unregistered parties who applied.
So how much would I give to each. Let’s start at the bottom and say $10,000 for Tier 6 and $20,000 for Tier 5. More than they deserve on their support, but less than that goes nowhere. That is $60,00 for Tier 6 and $100,000 for Tier 5
Then Tier 1. I think 66% to Tier 1 is appropriate – two thirds going to the two parties who are the primary choice of forming a Government. And this is still well below the amount they would get if you strictly followed the weightings. So that is $1,059,960 each, rounded to $1,050,000 each.
This leaves $952,000 for the other six parliamentary parties. I would give 30% of the remainder for Tier 3, 20% to each Tier 2 and 10% to each Tier 3 which helpfully makes 100%. So this would produce:
- National, Labour – $1,050,000 x 2
- Greens – $285,600
- Maori, NZ First – $190,400 x 2
- ACT, United Future, Progressive – $95,200 x 3
- ALCP, Democrats, Family Party, Libertarianz, Alliance – $20,000 x 5
- Kotahitanga, New World Order, Liberals, RAM, South Island Party, Workers Party – $10,000 x 6
That would equal $3,212,000 exactly.Tags: broadcasting allocations, Election 2008, Electoral Commission