It’s legal because they changed the law

October 22nd, 2008 at 7:48 am by David Farrar

There has finally been some attention paid by the media to ’s “information kit for the over 60s” which their MPs are posting and handing out in the tens of thousands.

Matthew Hooton has blogged on this several times in recent days.

This is a continuation of Labour’s 2005 strategy where Labour tries to get the taxpayer to pay for material it can use during the election campaign – and also tries to not have it count towards as part of their $2.4 million spending limit.

There are two questions involved:

  1. Is it appropriate and legal for the info kit to be paid for by The (taxpayers) for distribution during the election campaign?
  2. Does the info kit constitute an election advertisement under the ?

The answer to (1) is that it is legal – but, and this is important, only because Labour, NZ First and Greens rammed through a law change to over-turn the Auditor General’s interpretation of the previous law.

The could well have found, if the law had not changed, that this info kit was electioneering – especially as it was produced and distributed so close to an election. If it was a genuine info kit it would have been produced and distributed last year or even earlier this year.

But Labour First and the Greens changed the law (without even giving the public a chance to submit on the law change) so that only material which explicitly sought support for a party (as oppossed to implicitly) is covered. Under this law change Labour’s 2005 pledge card could be legally taxpayer funded again.

My solution to this rorting of the system is simple – ban of such advertising in the last 90 days. If it was a genuine info kit then they can produce and distribute it when there is not an election a few days away.

This is all part of Labour’s strategy to hold its most marginal seats. Part One was the Electoral Finance Act to silence new candidates by extending the $20,000 limit in the regulated period from 90 days to all of election year. This is a limit of around 5c/voter/month. Part Two was changing the law so incumbent MPs could use taxpayer funded advertising during the election campaign. It is all designed to keep incumbent MPs in their jobs.

Considering the huge amount of interest in the pledge card last time, it is surprising it has taken so long for the media to cover this issue. Has TVNZ or Radio NZ told their viewers and listeners that Labour and “friends” changed the law to make these info kits legal?

The second issue is whether or not the info kits are advertisements under the Electoral Finance Act. I tend to think they are not. The issue for me is whether MPs should be allowed to use their taxpayer funded budgets so close to an election to be writing and sending stuff to tens of thousands of voters.

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36 Responses to “It’s legal because they changed the law”

  1. Michaels (1,318 comments) says:

    It may not be illegal on it’s own, but how about the letter on Labour letterhead that came with it?
    Shouldn’t that make it illegal??

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  2. Lindsay Addie (1,136 comments) says:

    The Ginger One was on Radio NZ a couple of minutes ago with Brownlee. Ginger stammered, stuttered and obfuscated and lost by a knockout as Brownlee gave him a couple of good uppercuts.

    Well done Gerry!

    :lol:

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  3. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    cheating fuckers. i received 3 little red book cards in the post last time as i was in herr klarks electorate.

    i dont kow how hulun and juduth sleep at nite.

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  4. homepaddock (433 comments) says:

    The election’s about trust – trust them to rort the system.

    But this one might backfire: http://homepaddock.wordpress.com/2008/10/21/how-to-lose-votes/

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  5. Murray (8,838 comments) says:

    I’m pleased they’ve done it. It reminds people how they they love to spend taxpayers money and the cynical sneer on Helens face got her no votes.

    I’m happy to have financed this debacle that fooled no one.

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  6. Michaels (1,318 comments) says:

    And wasn’t this what Mike Williams told them to do at the Labour conference and Clark said it wouldn’t happen?????

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  7. Lindsay Addie (1,136 comments) says:

    Murray,

    You hit the nail on the head.

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  8. democracymum (660 comments) says:

    I agree it would be sensible and fair to have a 90 day ban on election advertising.
    I also think that should extend to election promises.

    The electoral finance act solved none of these issues
    and was never designed too.

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  9. Chaucey (43 comments) says:

    So where can I see a copy of this booklet online? Surely there is a pdf somewhere for technically savvy over 60′s to look at? Hmm, can’t seem to find one.

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  10. Luke H (73 comments) says:

    Don’t forget that one motivation for Labour to retrospectively legalise the pledge card spending in 2006 was to escape charges bought against them in the High Court by Bernard Darnton of the Libertarianz party

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  11. Glutaemus Maximus (2,207 comments) says:

    Really doesn’t bother me.

    Just another desperate last roll of the dice.

    They are toast.

    People want change. They will get the change they want.

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  12. deanknight (263 comments) says:

    DPF:

    You might want to check your facts on the genesis of the present rules:

    1. Initially, the definition of “electioneering” was brought in by the Appropriation (Parliamentary Expenditure Validation) Act 2006. However, that was subject to a sunset clause and expired on 1 January 2008.

    2. The present definition of electioneering is contained in a Speaker’s Direction and Determination – that is, in the same way these issues have been dealt with for years:

    An analysis of the provisions and definitions is on my blog:

    > LAWS179: “‘Pledgegate 08′: a storm in a pamphlet?”

    [DPF: I believe Parliament extended the temporary definition in late 2007 via legislation]

    [DPF: It was The Appropriation (Continuation of Interim Meaning of Funding for Parliamentary Purposes) Bill passed in Nov 2007 and continued the definition until July 2009]

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  13. david (2,547 comments) says:

    And speaking of direct mail, how many have had personally addressed letters from Kiwibank arrive in the mail the very week that the theme “keep it kiwi” hit the streets in spite of having never, ever had any contact with that stupid little institution

    Co-incidence ????

    remind me again who “owns” Kiwibank ???????

    And there are still quite a few days left for NZ Post’s profits to be further enhanced with massive throughput – the gummint funded franking machines are probably working overtime as we speak.

    Performance bonuses for NZ Post execs anyone?

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  14. Lindsay Addie (1,136 comments) says:

    Here is a pdf of the ‘information kit’:
    http://national.org.nz/files/Brownlee_Labour_50_page_Over_%2060s_book.pdf
    :lol:

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  15. kiwipolemicist (393 comments) says:

    Helen and her cronies in the Labour/Green cabal are fundamentalist Marxists, and the Marxist dogma says that doing anything is ok if it aids in achieving your goal. Stalin is estimated to have killed 41 million people and under the Marxist moral code that is just fine – cheating at election time is small beer:
    http://kiwipolemicist.wordpress.com/2008/08/18/never-trust-a-marxist/

    Here’s a catchy new slogan for this election – “Lynch the White Witch”:
    http://kiwipolemicist.wordpress.com/2008/10/01/election-2008-the-labour-party-is-a-leopard-that-doesnt-change-its-spots/

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  16. Chaucey (43 comments) says:

    Thanks Lindsay for the link. Funny that this Government Publication isn’t anywhere online but at a National Party site. You’d think that seeing as the taxpayer is paying for this that it’d be available on a governmental website.

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  17. Neil (568 comments) says:

    Lindsay Addie summed it up beautifully. Darren Hughes was left floundering in this discussion on Morning Report.
    A key point missed by Lindsay was Darren Hughes saying that to keep expenses down he got some of his Labor party supporters deliver these booklets. Doesn’t that make it a political publication, especially with Labor MP’s photographs in it.
    A question I have is how much are Labor electorate offices, staffed nominally by the State Services Commission,nominally “neutral” , being used as campaign HQ. A difficult situation for the honest but one that Labor will be using.That I believe really shows that this is an electoral con by the devious Labor party.
    Helen Clark’s announcement of the bank deposit scheme two weeks ago that supposedly caught National asleep was nothing more than a routine announcementy of a Reserve Bank management matter dressed up like a present to give to Labor party stalwarts and try to make Labor look great.
    What a disgusting,immoral and “porker person” we have as PM ! Get her out !

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  18. GPT1 (2,101 comments) says:

    Campbell Live took the michael out of it. Has some pretty patronising stuff in it – like how to cross the road.

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  19. Lindsay Addie (1,136 comments) says:

    Here is the mp3 file of hughes vs brownlee:
    http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/mnr/mnr-20081022-0738-Campaigning_Accusations-048.mp3

    It’s worth listen to for a laugh!

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  20. Turpin (342 comments) says:

    What do you expect from liar, forger and hypocrite?

    Kiwipolemist gets it right though he could put fundamentalist Islamist there too.

    The US has got there own problems – http://www.americanthinker.com/printpage/?url=http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/10/two_top_ten_lists.html

    so this behaviour is global, it comes from a moral base rated at 0.

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  21. david (2,547 comments) says:

    Another interesting “co-incidence” that might be worth some follow-up from those more knowledgable than myself is that the distribution of the >60′s booklet and the Kiwisaver letters seem to be made from the same address list. How curious is it that my wife received both (and I must ad she is a fair bit short of 60, while I received neither (and I am just 60).

    If my wife had never had a reason before for despising Phil Goff, she has one now while I am feeling totally ignored, left out and unacknowledged by these state funded attempts at impressing me.

    What gives with the mail lists?

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  22. slightlyrighty (2,499 comments) says:

    My test would be to take this pamphlet to 10 people chosen at random and ask if this pamphlet was electioneering on behalf of the person whose photo appeared on the cover.

    My answer would be hell yes.

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  23. insider (1,021 comments) says:

    As brownlee said, this was issued in March – why wait till just before the election to post it out in a coordinated way?

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  24. deanknight (263 comments) says:

    DPF:

    I stand corrected. It’s been rolled over for a further year under the Appropriation (Continuation of Interim Meaning of Funding for Parliamentary Purposes) Act 2007.

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  25. kiwipolemicist (393 comments) says:

    Pardon me for stating the blindingly obvious, but it is interesting that the 2005 legislation described by DPF gives a relaxed definition of what is an electoral advertisement, and the Electoral Finance Act gives a stricter definition of what is an election advertisement. The common thread is of course that both favour the incumbent, i.e. Labour.

    http://kiwipolemicist.wordpress.com/be-very-careful-who-you-vote-for-in-2008/

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  26. Turpin (342 comments) says:

    Issued in March?
    so was this a look around for something to throw at the elctorates right now or was it planned from March for election time?

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  27. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    Labour/ the left will steal your money by legislation and use it to produce propaganda that seeks to make them look different to the crooks they are. Anyone who votes for Labour on the strength of this kind of deceit and dishonesty gets the government they deserve. This story merely emphasizes the fact that the Labour Party is controlled by a gang of dishonest scheming power obsessed amoral fraudsters and charlatans, and if the NZ media were true to their profession, more people would know this, and it would have been known long before now.

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  28. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    Then again, maybe its true that 30% of the NZ population are happy to support such thuggery and be governed by a gang of thieves. Possible, but if so, its not the NZ I once knew.

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  29. slightlyrighty (2,499 comments) says:

    There is a clear difference between what is legal and what is ethical. Labour are relying on their prospective voters to not know what that is.

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  30. cctrfred (41 comments) says:

    I was rung by a “polling agency” three nights ago claiming they were hired by the Electoral Commission to assess the effectiveness of the recent electoral roll confirmation mailout. I agreed to give my age range , education level and ethnicity in addition to confirming I received my enrolment pack and checked the details. I was then asked for my electorate. Curiously I then had to give my name and address so they could “double check” and then had to confirm I was over 18. I pointed out I had already done so with the age range question. Maybe this agency had two clients and the second one was for the over-60′s mailout? The caller was a pleasant-sounding chap maybe in his fifties and he gave an 0800 number I could double-check if I wanted (didn’t write it down, unfortunately).
    Has anyone else had a similar phone call?

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  31. Turpin (342 comments) says:

    yes
    we said no thanks as we do to most calls of that nature

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  32. Southern Raider (1,675 comments) says:

    I’m more concerned about the content of it. It might have cost $60K to print, but probably took 50 policy experts 3 years to write.

    This contains some advice we should all use lile
    - don’t cross busy roads
    - don’t go out with big bundles of cash
    - close your windows before you go out

    Helen, They’re old not bloody stupid!

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  33. slightlyrighty (2,499 comments) says:

    I note that the Herald has a comments page regarding this booklet and if it constitutes electioneering or not. Currently there is only one comment that says that it is not electioneering. EVERY other commentator says that it is.

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  34. getstaffed (9,189 comments) says:

    And speaking of direct mail, how many have had personally addressed letters from Kiwibank arrive in the mail the very week that the theme “keep it kiwi” hit the streets in spite of having never, ever had any contact with that stupid little institution

    Yes, I received a personally addressed Keep It Kiwi letter. I have never had any business relationship with Kiwibank.

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  35. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,819 comments) says:

    What a waste of taxpayer money.

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  36. NeillR (349 comments) says:

    Just as an aside, they may not be as “legal” as Labour thinks. Have a look at the front cover of Goff’s “information kit”. It says “Phil Goff Labour MP for Mt Roskill”. Surely someone could take a case over this?

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