Repeal the Electoral Finance Act

May 24th, 2008 at 11:12 am by David Farrar

One of the opponents of the died yesterday – Grey Power President . My condolences to those who knew him – I had not had the pleasure.

On the same day a dedicated group of around 40 anti EFA protesters led by protested outside the venue for Helen Clark’s post-budget speech. Not PC has photos.

Neither of these are reasons why the EFA should be repealed. The ultimate proof of the stupidity and far reaching effects of the Electoral Finance Act comes in this story by Audrey Young.

All references to a “Labour-led Government” were deleted from the Government’s press releases on the Budget for fear of breaching the Electoral Finance Act.

People laughed and jeered at me when I said that the law was so bad it even included press releases, but it does. It is the height of stupidity that one can not even refer to the name of the major party in power in a press release.

Labour should just admit they fucked up, and it is a stupid law. It is probably going to stop their biggest ally from running the campaign they want, and it stops them even mentioning their party’s name in press releases.

“We were advised that the use of the term ‘Labour-led’ in the Government releases could be seen as coming under the Electoral Finance Act and obviously that would not be appropriate because they were Government publications, not Labour Party publications.”

That is a quote from . Bet he would like to give and the bash.

It believed the term could be seen as promoting Labour and could therefore meet the new definition of election advertisement under the act.

That would have meant that the material should have been authorised by Labour’s general secretary and financial agent, Mike Smith, and possible prosecution of the Secretary of Treasury, John Whitehead, because Government departments are banned from publishing election advertisements.

Indeed.

Dr Cullen’s own Budget speech contained the term twice but he said he had received advice that because it was a speech in Parliament, parliamentary privilege applied.

It gets even more insane. If it were not for parliamentary privilege, then speeches in Parliament might be illegal election advertisements.

I’m serious. It is time to repeal the law. If it is not repealed before the election there will be court cases galore. Electorate MPs will be fighting off electoral petitions for months and months. By-elections may change the result of the election.

Some may claim that no one thought the law would end up being this far reaching. That is not true. There were warnings and warnings. Submissions were made. Protests were organised. It was all predictable. The Government even gave up trying to defend it and retreated behind their “law of common sense”.

Someone should go ask Annette King how common sense required budget press releases to not mention the name of the major party in Government. You can mention it in 2009 and 2010 but not in 2008 or 2011 as they are election years. You could not get more absurd.

If they will not repeal the law, a compromise would be to return the regulated period to 90 days. This would allow MPs to actually mention the name of their party in press releases for most of the year!

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35 Responses to “Repeal the Electoral Finance Act”

  1. Redbaiter (11,880 comments) says:

    “People laughed and jeered at me when I said that the law was so bad it even included press releases, but it does.”

    Standard leftist response to any truth.

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  2. Lindsay Addie (1,342 comments) says:

    DPF,

    Don’t hold your breath expecting Labour to make any changes to the EFA. If they have to do anything to it they’ll look even more foolish than they already are. It would be a major admission of defeat to have to change the legislation so close to the election.

    Has there even been are more stupid piece of law than this?

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  3. Frank (320 comments) says:

    The EFB would never have arrived in Parliament if the Police Commissioner had not covered-up the allegation of the misappropriation of Helen’s Leaders Funds.
    It should be on the Commissioner’s desk this morning.

    Further example of an allegeed cover-up follows:

    23 05 2008

    Dear Police Commissioner Howard Broad

    Official Information Act 1982 Request

    Your response from your Office, 12 May 2008, was as follows:”I refer to your letters to the Commissioner of Police concerning “matters” relating to the Immigration Services.”

    You have received from me the allegations I have listed below, and these are the “matters” you refer to.
    Your Office also went on to state: “A public inquiry is being currently carried out in respect of these matters.”

    Under The Official Information Act 1982 I request details of this public inquiry which is being currently carried out in respect of these “matters. These details would include: Who instituted the inquiry and when? Who is carrying it out? What is this authority to whom you have deferred?

    These “matters” you refer to are listed below. They are all related to the Crimes Act 1982 Section 99:
    Bribery and Corruption. You will recall that RT Hon Helen Clark told the House 10 April 2003 (Hansard) “All-any allegations of corruption will be investigated”.

    28 04 2008 Allegations to Police Commissioner Howard Broad against NZ Immigration Services etc.
    01 04 2008 Allegations to Police Commissioner Howard Broad against Hon Clayton Cosgrove, Minister of Immigration.
    01 04 2008 Allegations to Police Commissioner Howard Broad against State Services Commissioner
    Mark Prebble.
    01 04 2008 Allegations to Police Commissioner Howard Broad against Senior Officials in the Service of the Crown who have advantaged relatives of Mary-Ann Thompson
    01 04 2008 Allegations to Police Commissioner Howard Broad against Hon David Parker, Minister of Labour.

    Under The Official Information Act 1982 I request copies of all “matters” arising from receipt of these 5 allegations i.e.:”Copies of all documentation, phone calls, e-mails, memos etc, generated.

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  4. Labour are scum (50 comments) says:

    ‘It is time to repeal the law. If it is not repealed before the election there will be court cases galore. Electorate MPs will be fighting off electoral petitions for months and months. By-elections may change the result of the election.’

    This is EXACTLY helen’s intention.

    Bitch!

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  5. Gerrit (95 comments) says:

    ‘Electorate MPs will be fighting off electoral petitions for months and months.’

    That was my un-answered question to select committee.

    Does the incumbent keep on in government while all the petitions are before the court?

    If they do the court cases could stretchout for years and years plus a few more years for appeals. We may never have free elections in New Zealand!

    Who does govern? A grand coaltion? The Governor General?

    Interesting scenario!!

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  6. Mike (130 comments) says:

    Isn’t this a good thing? preventing Labour from using its role in government from being used for advertising?

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  7. Graeme Edgeler (2,972 comments) says:

    Someone should go ask Annette King how common sense required budget press releases to not mention the name of the major party in Government. You can mention it in 2009 and 2010 but not in 2008 or 2011 as they are election years. You could not get more absurd.

    That wouldn’t work.

    Section 67 – the ban on government departments publishing election advertisements applies irrespective of the regulated period.

    If they will not repeal the law, a compromise would be to return the regulated period to 90 days. This would allow MPs to actually mention the name of their party in press releases for most of the year!

    Wrong again. Section 65 – requiring all election advertisements promoting a party (as opposed to opposing a party) to be authorised in writing by a party financial agent – also applies irrespective of the regulated period.

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  8. Graeme Edgeler (2,972 comments) says:

    Gerrit – I’m not sure if you asked that question here, but I’ve answered it somewhere.

    While election petitions are being heard, the person declared elected at the return of the writ is the member of Parliament.

    Also, there is no appeal from an election petition.

    There are appeals from prosecutions for corrupt practice, however.

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  9. Gerrit (95 comments) says:

    Graeme,

    Thanks for that clarification.

    Seems to me that if you cheat and get a majority in parliament and you can extend the law process long enough, the cheating party (be it labour or National or a grouping of coalition partners) can present budgets, enact laws, etc.

    In other words rule as they like (and even put retrospective legislation in place to legitimised the election).

    Seems like all the power is flowing from the electorate to the judiciary.

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  10. DrDr (113 comments) says:

    “You can mention it in 2009 and 2010 but not in 2008 or 2011 as they are election years. You could not get more absurd”

    DPF what happens if we had a snap election in either of those years, how would the EFA affect any budget speeches or other materials published in that year?

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  11. burt (7,428 comments) says:

    DrDr

    In that case the law of common sense applies.

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  12. Graeme Edgeler (2,972 comments) says:

    DrDr – in years in which an election is not required, the regulated period (the period in which the party and candidate spending limits apply) is back to 90 days. The regulated period for third parties/those spending less than the registration limit (starts from the announced of the election).

    The requirements in section 63 (name and address of financial agent required for party and candidate advertising) would not apply retrospectively).

    The requirements of sections 65 and 67 (noted above) apply permanently – even in years in which elections aren’t held.

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  13. Simeon (108 comments) says:

    Also the changes to Section 59 of the crimes act should also be repealed.

    http://nzdebate.blogspot.com/2008/05/if-you-dont-sign-you-cant-complain.html

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  14. bruceh (102 comments) says:

    Can’t agree with Steve Withers that EFA doesn’t prevent free speech. Free speech has always been recognised as freedom of publication of views as well as inter-personally voiced views.

    And it is silly to presume that various people and whoever, with so-called buckets of money will use it to ‘spread lies/ disinformation.’ Opinions that are different from ones own or the status quo of opinions are not lies or dis-information and it is ingenuous to claim otherwise.

    The best guard against lies and dis-information is the freedom to counter-act plus the influence of the fourth estate to investigate and call to public account/ give free bad publicity to the propagators of the falsehoods and the like. That’s why it’s called the fourth estate.

    The use of an EFA approach to prevent ‘excesses’ of democratically expressed views is simply monstrous. Period. (hey frogs, take a pause and notice the temperature of the water)

    My focus on this EFA fracas is National. I don’t want to see its usual boring mid-ground hunting ‘we’ll adjust out the worst excesses/ be better managers’ etc.

    I want unequivocal ‘gone by lunch time’ and I think Nat supporters should settle for nothing less and let their caucus and leader know.

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  15. illuminatedtiger (51 comments) says:

    Is it just me or are those protesters overwhelmingly rich and white? Great cross-section of society you have there morons!

    And goodness me are those professionally made signs? For future reference: If you want to convey a message it’s cheaper just to get some cardboard and make it yourself. But money is never a problem for you fatcats is it?

    [DPF: Wow he can spot rich people from a photo. An amazing skill. Mind you his definition of rich is being able to afford t have a $10 placard made. Nice to see how much he hates people with money]

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  16. dad4justice (6,594 comments) says:

    “fatcats” really you over fed socialist tiger. Do you have red stripes?

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  17. Patrick Starr (3,674 comments) says:

    Hey Dad – Do you detect a labour envy cat ahead of you –
    or just a sour pussy?

    Go the saders!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  18. clintheine (1,495 comments) says:

    The law is an ass. As it is so overpoweringly stupid, surely this is one thing National WILL get rid of when they get back into Govt? The sooner the better. Then we can repeal other bits of stupidity….

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  19. getstaffed (8,040 comments) says:

    Steve Withers said:

    The EFA as it stands doesn’t prevent free speech, but some of the administrative hurdles are onerous and unrealistic.

    I’d suggest that if there are any administrative hurdles, let alone onerous and unrealistic ones, then speech is not free at all. It is constrained and subject to the editorial or judicial mercies of the increasingly powerful State.

    Face it: the EFA is a rotting legislative turd. It was introduced by a government desperate to silence legitimate opposing voices. It’s utterly delicious that this same government is now being caught in its own quicksand.

    Repeal it!

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  20. getstaffed (8,040 comments) says:

    illuminatedtiger delivers a less than illuminated view of who should be permitted to voice their concerns. If you’re white – stay home. If you’re rich (what, like our BMW chauffeured PM with the world’s best pension plan?!?) then don’t make a squeak.

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  21. Lee C (2,720 comments) says:

    The EFA should be iced, and a Royal Commission into Electoral Reform undertaken, and their findings, as a result of the submissions from all interested Parties should be drafted into a Draft Bill which has cross-party support. the Bill should be placed before Selct Committee and its amendments acted upon and then the result should be placed before Parliament and MPs allowed to vote on their consciences.

    PS check out monkeyswith typewriters if you want ot see my ‘EFB=RORT’ home-made sign, Tiger – does it meet your rather limited criteria of who deserves a voice in a modern democracy?

    http://monkeyswithtypewriter.blogspot.com/

    Anything less is a betrayal of the people. Even the desire for anything less is a betrayal of the people.

    The EFA was a betrayal of the people.

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  22. Lee C (2,720 comments) says:

    !

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  23. chrlu693 (5 comments) says:

    “I’d suggest that if there are any administrative hurdles, let alone onerous and unrealistic ones, then speech is not free at all. It is constrained and subject to the editorial or judicial mercies of the increasingly powerful State.”

    Writing your name and address on any campaign material is hardly onerous and unrealistic. And how many people here have $12,000 to spend? Even then you only have to register with an independent govt agency. And anyone who claims the electoral commission is run by the govt only needs to look at the decisions it has made recently.

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  24. Graeme Edgeler (2,972 comments) says:

    Lee C said:

    The EFA should be iced, and a Royal Commission into Electoral Reform undertaken, and their findings, as a result of the submissions from all interested Parties should be drafted into a Draft Bill which has cross-party support.

    Careful what you wish for Lee. We’ve had one Royal Commission into the Electoral System. And it looked into a lot (not just MMP), and made numerous recommendations, including:

    1. Public financing of political parties *and* candidates; and
    2. A complete ban on third party advertising.

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  25. illuminatedtiger (51 comments) says:

    To all you fascists modding me down no I don’t think the rich should be made to shutup. Merely commenting that the idea of NZers being against this law is pure bullcrap. If mainstream New Zealanders gave a crap about the EFA they would be out there protesting. They’re not now, and they weren’t during the poorly attended protests in the main centres.

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  26. Strutta (67 comments) says:

    Steve Withers says “…I still don’t want people with buckets of money, be they unions, “rich pricks”, churches or whoever, to be able to spread lies / disinformation ..”

    I assume you are referring to the EB leaflet. What has been lost in the rhetoric is that the leaflet did not contain lies. Labour’s tirade against it just made most people think it did. Also, a later survey noted the leaflet did change one vote away from Labour or the Greens. My question to you then is “How did that expensive electioneering buy an election?”

    The illegal pledge card spending probably influenced marginal voters far more.

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  27. Lee C (2,720 comments) says:

    Well Graeme,
    Given our recent experiences I would hope for a more balanced attitude if there were a re-run. Let’s face it, the EFA was designed to ignore aspects of other laws where it was inconvenient to the prevailing power.

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  28. Manolo (14,173 comments) says:

    “If mainstream New Zealanders gave a crap about the EFA they would be out there protesting. They’re not now..”

    Not without reason the NZ populace can be called “the sheeple”.

    This socialist Labour government have refined to an art the ability to manipulate/spin facts, so the throngs of welfare beneficiaries, including WFF, are unwilling to say anything against their masters, the same Labour politicians who could cut off or reduce their allowances. It’s called fear, imbecility, timidity, etc.

    To the above add middle New Zealand’s growing disinterest in politics (you need to work harder to keep up these days), and you have the answer to the issue you raised.

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  29. Ed Snack (1,940 comments) says:

    It is worth remembering, for Illuminated Tiger and Steve Wither’s sake anyway, that a “bucket full of lies” was spread around at the 2005 election, and they were all made by the Unions in their campaign against National, and by those such as Trevor Mallard alleging US money funding National, a lie for which he has never produced a shred of proof. And given that it was Labour that was funded from an overseas tax haven, and that it was Labour that stole taxpayers money to illegally overspend in the last days of the electioon, it is offensive that the left spreads more lies about rich pricks spreading disinformation.

    It seems to be true that politicians anyway thunder on about the opposition committing exactly those crimes that they themselves are deeply enmired in. So by accussing National of being overseas funded, Mallard was merely mirroring labours own dependence on funds sourced overseas from a tax haven, and hence his current resurrection of those accusations can be a pointer to how Labour plans to revive its coffers for this election. And why were the left on Kiwiblog so vociferously claiming that the EFB were rorting the election system ? Why, because that is what they themselves were and are attempting with the EFA. However we are indeed lucky that the competence of the left is only matched by their honesty, hence this absolute abortion of an act whose (so far) principal victims have been the Labour Partyy and its lackeys in the Union movement.

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  30. Frank (320 comments) says:

    chrlu:….. “And anyone who claims the electoral commission is run by the govt only needs to look at the decisions it has made recently.”

    It would be more to the point if the decisions the Electoral Commission failed to make during the 2005 election were examined. That would give you some idea whether they failed the voters of New Zealand. In my view they failed.

    Before there’s any Royal Commission of Inquiry into our Electoral System we need to have a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the 2005 election (Which was called for by Fran O Sullivan) and also the legislation that followed as a result of Parliamentarians legislating to advantage themselves from the consequences of breaking the law. That in my book is preventing, perverting and defeating the course of justice – a straight forward criminal action?

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  31. Frank (320 comments) says:

    bruceh. Where have the 4th estate investigated anything of note?

    TV1 recently exposed the Immigration Services scandal. Whereis the follow up?

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  32. Kimble (3,955 comments) says:

    The NZ public can be divided into 3 groups.

    1. Labourite lickspittles that are blindly supporting the EFA despite its many glaring, and easily foreseen, drawbacks. Their only excuse is that it is necessary for Labour to have any hope to stay in power. They dont say this outright, but what else can you think when every reason they put out there Labour itself has breached and that they still dont see anything wrong with it?

    2. People against it, some of whom have protested, some of whom have written lengthy papers calling for substantial rewrite, and others that dont have time to protest or dont want to run the risk of having an aggressive confrontation with the Labourite lickspittles from above.

    3. People who dont know about it, dont understand enough about it to see its flaws, have never been one for politics.

    By far the greatest number of people is in group 3.

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  33. Frank (320 comments) says:

    Kimble: The Media are well informed as well as the Politicians, but the scandal is so far reaching that they hush it up.

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