The Herald editorial:
On the strength of its election result, the Green Party has been given a great deal more public money to spend at Parliament. It needs to be careful how it spends it. Taxpayers might be surprised to learn the party is spending $76,000 of its allowance to hire people to collect signatures on a petition for a referendum on asset sales. This is not a proper use of the money.
It also makes you wonder about the boasts from the Greens that they have so many members and activists. Yet, they have to pay people to collect petition signatures. The Greens are ironically doing what they always rally against – bringing US style political campaigning to NZ, where money is used to purchase a result.
The country pays for a Parliament that has been set up to resolve public issues and Parliament provides elected parties with funds to ensure they can research issues, question ministers and contribute to legislative debate.
The law provides a separate procedure for citizens outside Parliament to petition for referendums when they are so moved. The citizens’ initiative, as it is called, is supposed to be exactly that. It is not a second chance saloon for those who have the privileges of Parliament.
It is obviously wrong for Parliamentary funds to be used to pay people to get signatures to petition Parliament!
There appears to be nothing in Parliament’s rules to prevent a party using its leader’s office allowance in this way, though that may be because it has not happened before. The Parliamentary Service’s general manager said the Greens were within the rules because the petition does not ask the public for money, membership or votes. But that is a rule for election spending and referendums held separately from an election should not be promoted by parties with public funds.
Especially as the Greens have consistently tried to limit people spending their own money on referenda. Their true motivations it seems is to restrict the voices of those who do not have taxpayer funding, while allow themslves to spend as much as they can, with the taxpayer paying. They were the only party in Parliament to vote against repealing the horrific Electoral Finance Act, and they constantly call for greater taxpayer funding of political parties with no restrictions.