New excuse needed

July 12th, 2011 at 1:31 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A file containing details of ’s alleged breach of election advertising laws has now gone to police.

A spokesman for the police confirmed they received the dossier, from the Electoral Commission this morning.

”It will be assessed to establish the validity of the complaint and determine how we proceed from here,” the spokesman said. …

The Commission alerted police and Labour on Friday that they believed election advertising rules, which were tightened last year, were broken.

A full file of their findings has now gone to police.

Labour leader Phil Goff yesterday said people working on the literature didn’t pick up the law changes.

”We’ve expressed our regret, that won’t happen again.”

I’ve said this before – the need to have your ads authorised has not changed. This is a red herring. Labour’s ad would have been in breach of the pre-EFA , the Electoral Finance Act and the current .

The issue is that Labour have had a belief since 2005 that if it is taxpayer funded, it does not need an authorisation statement. This has never been correct, and they have been told numerous times it is not correct.

So in summary the law has not changed. The problem is that Labour’s attitude to the law has not changed either.

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10 Responses to “New excuse needed”

  1. hmmokrightitis (1,458 comments) says:

    Nicely said Goofy…”We’ve expressed our regret, that won’t happen again.”

    Yup, just about sums it up really. F uck you NZ, we will do what we want, oh and newsflash, we will not apologise either.

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  2. CJPhoto (182 comments) says:

    I always thought “ignorance of the law is no excuse”.

    Politians of all people must know that.

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  3. Graeme Edgeler (3,216 comments) says:

    I’ve said this before – the need to have your ads authorised has not changed. This is a red herring. Labour’s ad would have been in breach of the pre-EFA Electoral Act, the Electoral Finance Act and the current Electoral Act.

    I concur. And said as much here

    The only law that has really changed has been a relaxation (by Labour opposed by National, and then by National with Labour’s support) of the rules – as interpreted by the Auditor-General and Solicitor-General – which would have prohibited Labour spending money from The Parliamentary Service on these ads.

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  4. david (2,482 comments) says:

    It is not as if they have no legal experience in their caucus and presumably their election strategy team. In fact it is a real hospital pass to Charlie Chuvers for him to have to front foot a plea of legal ignorance. Wasn’t he a Russell McVeigh high flyer once upon a time?

    If they are going to insist that these were just oversights and errors, you would need to question the ability of David Parker and Charlie (any other lawyers in there? Little?) to effectively represent a client’s interests and give effective advice. If you can’t claim legal incompetence, the only way out is to admit to deliberate flouting of the law. Coin toss anyone?

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  5. 3-coil (1,184 comments) says:

    Not until all the remnants of the corrupt 1999-2008 Labour government are removed from office, will this dishonesty cease.

    This behaviour is not an oversight, or even simple incompetence (as pathetic as that would be). Labour have used this rort for years now, they know exactly what they are doing – it is corruption.

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  6. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    Here’s a quote from x-Prime Minister Helen Clark: “I think the public wants to know who is funding political parties. They want to know who is pulling strings.”

    Funny – it takes a complaint laid to police to find out that we are !

    Edit: source of quote.
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/columnists/colin-espiner/40985/A-bill-set-up-to-fail

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  7. deanknight (263 comments) says:

    I suspect that the position was a little more complex than you claim DPF.

    As you know, the Labour position was justified only “in part” because it had received prior authorisation from Parliamentary Service. Yes, you’re correct to say that all “electoral advertisement” need a promoter statement. But there still remains the tricky question of whether an advertisement, whether funded by Parliamentary Services or not, is an electoral advertisement:

    “an advertisement … that may reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters … :

    (ii) to vote, or not to vote, for a type of party described or indicated by reference to views or positions that are, or are not, held or taken (whether or not the name of the party is stated)…”

    The Electoral Commission acknowledges this requires a case-by-case assessment of each advertisment (http://www.elections.org.nz/rules/parties/party-secretary-handbook-2011/part-4-election-campaigning.html). Some parliamentary publicity material will be electoral advertisements; some will not be:

    “Whether publicity is candidate or party advertising must be determined on a case by case basis by looking at an advertisement as a whole. At one end of the spectrum, advertising expressly seeking support for a candidate or party is covered by the definitions of candidate advertisement and party advertisement. At the other, advertising an MP’s contact details is unlikely to be considered to be a party or candidate advertisement.”

    And they go on to set out the range of factors which may influence that determination:

    When considering a particular item of publicity, the following are some of the factors which indicate that it may be a party or candidate advertisement:
    - references that directly or indirectly evaluate an MP and/or their party’s effectiveness/success during the parliamentary term or previously, whether or not it includes references to any other party or candidate,
    - references in the communication to the election itself,
    - references either direct or indirect to an MP’s and/or their party’s policy platform for the election, or what they will do if elected or re-elected,
    - references to a candidate who is not an existing MP, and
    - formatting or branding of a communication in a manner similar to the party’s own election campaign material.”

    I don’t know if these considerations are consistent with those applied recently (maybe Edge can confirm?) The point is that the line is still a fuzzy one – not a bright line like you suggest!

    Of course, this point was acknowledged and Parliament sought to ameloriate this by providing a mechanism for the Electoral Commission to give advice on whether an advert was an electoral advertisement or not.

    You can fairly slap Labour for not using this mechanism to vet the advert, but I think it’s mischievous to suggest these matters are straight-forward things.

    Of course, the rules requiring electoral adverts to have a promoter statement haven’t changed.

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  8. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    3-coil

    Exactly, they have been doing it for years and years. It’s how it’s always been done you know. Others were doing it too and the law is confusing… We have heard all this shit before – FFS Mr Plod – Prosecute !

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  9. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    deanknight

    I think it’s simple – the people that write and enact laws have no excuse to act outside of them !

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  10. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    Question, for the lawyers perhaps.

    Is it the case that if the police do nothing with this before the election that they are unable to bring charges after the election due to the statute of limitations with the electoral funding laws ?

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