Not Colin’s fault

February 23rd, 2010 at 7:09 am by David Farrar

I blogged on a column by last week on the electoral law changes, and disagreed with aspects of it. One area I critiqued was the assertion that under the new law third parties could spend unlimited money in support of a political party, and not have it count as part of a party’s limit.

Now I was correct, but as Colin writes here the error was not his:

Power said the requirement that lobbyists register with the Electoral Commission if they spent more than $12,000 would ensure the system was open and transparent.

However, after an outcry from Labour and the Greens, Power said he was prepared to revisit the proposal if a select committee could agree on a suitable alternative.

He also announced that lobbyists running supportive campaigns for a party would have to seek the party’s consent, and they would count towards that party’s spending limit.

Earlier, his office had insisted that positive campaigning would not count towards party spending limits.

So it was a stuff up in the Minister’s office (and hey we have all made them), and one can’t criticise Colin for relying on the advice from the Minister’s office.

2 Responses to “Not Colin’s fault”

  1. Chris Diack (872 comments) says:

    Of course the context of Colin Espiner’s story was that ‘wicked lobby groups’ will bombard us with advertising – a global warming like sea rise of pamphlets for we small Tuvalu like voters.

    The inference I take from this ‘shock horror” and the use of the pejorative “lobby groups” is that candidate and party speech will be drowned out by those who can afford to manufacture this flood; thereby purchasing their policy objectives by the ton of leaflets.

    The first point to note is that Mr Espiner is maintained by corporate media whose speech is not so affected by all the restrictions that we can infer he is suggesting is needed for all others to prevent the flood. The Christchurch Press doesn’t need to register – its political speech is privileged. Thus Mr Epsiner has more in common with the pols he covers whose speech is similarly privileged than he does with ordinary punter.

    If one steps back and looks at the underlying analysis, it’s really the same old prejudice: spending equals influence purchased. It’s this false notion that results in the restriction of candidate and registered party speech through spend caps and the broadcasting allocation rort stitched up between National and Labour.

    Those candidates and registered parties (with an exception) then clamour for similar restrictions on everyone else. After all it’s only fair! Everyone’s ‘influence’ through spending must be kept proportionate to everyone else’s – conserving the existing pattern. ‘Everyone else’ in this context is actually about political challengers from either inside the existing array of parties and candidates who are not incumbents or from those outs the existing array of parties who are by definition non incumbents. Strangly however Parliamentary Service spending just keeps rising and rising (with the Parliamentary National and Labour Parties getting 30million or more depending on how one defines it a pop over 3yrs) but of course that has nothing to do with political competition or campaigning.

    After tying themselves in a thicket of rules they start on non candidate non registered party speech. First they start on express positive advocacy (done here already). Then express negative advocacy (to be decided currently). Then issues based advocacy (Labour has form on this and will in all likelihood go here in the future). The net effect of all of this is a bureaucratised political discourse. Everyone form filling and rule watching and the agency of the State enforcing it. We see the germ of it here now. Labour tried it on steroids; National less so but still headed down that track.

    None of this comes from a freedom of expression based analysis. Rather it’s all about building on pre NZBORA restrictions. And alas the Ministry of Justice who one would have thought would be heading New Zealand towards greater freedom of expressing with regard to political speech has proved itself to be no great defender of this freedom – note the Cabinet paper that implies that the current broadcasting allocation system doesn’t pass muster under the NZBORA so therefore the Minister of Justice wont propose any reform proposals – this despite repeated advice from the Electoral Commission that the allocation system is poor.

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  2. Response Ability (3 comments) says:

    Kudos for the correction David.


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