Dunne on party registration law changes

August 16th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

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First, it was UnitedFuture, not the , that raised the issue of the difficulty we were having verifying the status of some of our members. Had we just signed the annual statutory declaration that we had 500 financial members the would have been none the wiser because it has no power to check the accuracy of a party’s declaration. So we were deregistered for being honest, which is quite absurd. Therefore, my Bill will require the to formally audit the membership of all registered parties once every three years to ensure they do in fact have a minimum of 500 financial members, and are not just saying so in the sure knowledge they will not be checked up on.

I think it is a great idea to have the Electoral Commission audit membership claims.

The next absurdity was the Electoral Commission’s archaic insistence that we produce 500 individually signed declarations and its refusal to accept on-line memberships. That is totally out of step with today’s reality so my amendment will ensure on-line memberships will be treated as valid for registration purposes, and will make the Commission subject to the provisions of the Electronic Transactions Act, something it is currently specifically exempted from.

Also a good idea. To be fair to the Electoral Commission they have to act within the current law.

Third, I am proposing that where a party that has been registered for at least two elections is deregistered it will be able to lodge a re-registration application within 90 days, without being treated as a new party. The Electoral Commission kept telling us that UnitedFuture was clearly not a new party – having been around for nearly 20 years – but under its internal rules (not the Electoral Act incidentally) it claimed it had no option but to treat us a new party. This is clearly a nonsense – a party cannot be both an established party, yet treated as new party, at the same time.

Obviously some self-interest here. This one I am fairly neutral on. The best course of action is for parties to make sure they clearly stay over 500 members. In fact I think the threshold should be 1,000.

Definitely a bill that should go to select committee, if drawn out.

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20 Responses to “Dunne on party registration law changes”

  1. adze (2,000 comments) says:

    “Had we just signed the annual statutory declaration that we had 500 financial members the Electoral Commission would have been none the wiser because it has no power to check the accuracy of a party’s declaration. So we were deregistered for being honest, which is quite absurd.”

    UF wasn’t deregistered for being honest, they were deregistered for having fewer than 500 financial members. Being honest doesn’t mean you should be excused for not meeting the criteria, it just means you have integrity (unless you expect a special favour in return, that is).

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  2. anonymouse (708 comments) says:

    If the Electoral Commission is going to be given the power to Audit Party Membership claims, then surely they should be made to make this info public…..

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  3. nickb (3,675 comments) says:

    So we were deregistered for being honest, which is quite absurd.

    Poor petal. Obviously it is too much to expect electoral law to be applied when it is actually meant to.

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  4. flipper (3,838 comments) says:

    Adze…
    You are technically correct.
    But Dunne’s point (I am NOT a UF supporter) is obvious, and correct.

    The Government could do worse than adopt it as a Government measure…. certainly better than some of the departmental crap that is fed in to the system.

    Moreover, it would be fun to watch those union pricks squirm, would it not?

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  5. Scott Chris (5,974 comments) says:

    Therefore, my Bill will require the Electoral Commission to formally audit the membership of all registered parties once every three years to ensure they do in fact have a minimum of 500 financial members, and are not just saying so in the sure knowledge they will not be checked up on.

    Oh goody. More bureaucracy. Way to grow government Dunny.

    Depressing that so much time is spent by MPs on such trivial matters.

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  6. adze (2,000 comments) says:

    flipper, yeah I was really responding to that point in isolation. I’m with DPF (in being neutral) when it comes to the proposed bill itself.
    Dunne has his good points (I understand he’s been a good MP for people who’ve needed his help with govt departments), but he does have a tendency to throw a tanty when he doesn’t get his way.

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  7. bringbackdemocracy (416 comments) says:

    For how many elections was United (no) Future illegally registered?

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  8. dime (9,662 comments) says:

    “So we were deregistered for being honest, which is quite absurd”

    lol ummm so if youre honest the law doesnt apply?

    how about

    “in order to get a $2000 bonus you have to work 250 hours in a month. even though i could have told my employer i worked 250 hours and he wouldnt have checked, i didnt. i only worked 200 hours. so i didnt get the bonus because i was honest, which is quite absurd”.

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  9. Michael (899 comments) says:

    There were registered parties that did not get 500 votes in 2005 and 2008 and others barely get over a 1000 votes – clearly some parties have been playing fast and loose with registering members and making declarations to the Electoral Commission. Introducing audits will stop this.

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  10. Paulus (2,559 comments) says:

    Winston, Winston where re your 500 ?
    Whaddaya mean you can’t find them ?

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  11. davidp (3,557 comments) says:

    Who cares how many members any party has? It is their business. If I gather together a handful of friends then we have the right to represent ourselves as a party and to campaign together in elections. This isn’t a right that either parliament or the Electoral Commission can limit. This isn’t Zimbabwe or Putin’s Russia where party registration is up to the whim of the people in power.

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  12. gravedodger (1,528 comments) says:

    With the now significant power vested in Parties, I would go further than suggested so far, make the start figure 10 000 or say 1% of registered voters even then that relates to a pressure group rayther than a political movement.

    As for the bureuacracy needed, just have serious sanctions for false reporting then the commission only needs to act on possible breaches.

    Agree with a published claims idea, then it would be self regulating.

    “HOW MANY?”, comedy entertainment for free tossed in

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  13. Nigel Kearney (915 comments) says:

    I don’t care how many members a party has, but I do care about not having a ballot paper with hundreds of parties listed, most of which are people just taking the chance to reach the entire country with some free advertising. So there has to be some restriction. How about:

    - No requirement for any party that has ever achieved over 1% of the vote in the past
    - 500 members otherwise

    Given we are stuck with this system where can’t vote for the people we want, it doesn’t really make it any better knowing the random person we are helping to elect happens to be in a party supported by 499 other random people.

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  14. lilman (925 comments) says:

    Honest Dunne,shit hold me whilst I find my head,its rolling around here some where.
    Pity he couldn’t be so honest and forthcoming on emails when asked by too his Prime Minster.
    God his wife deserves a medal.

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  15. simonway (375 comments) says:

    UF wasn’t deregistered for being honest, they were deregistered for having fewer than 500 financial members.

    He’s not saying that UF shouldn’t have been deregistered. Under his proposed changes, UF would still have been deregistered, because the EC would have audited their membership. He’s saying that the current rules incentivise parties to just lie. If United Future had lied and said that they definitely had more than 500 financial members, they would have stayed registered. So the current situation means:

    1. Being honest will get you deregistered.
    2. Lying will keep you in the clear.

    If only honest people are punished, it’s fair to say that you are punished for being honest, which is what Dunne said. “Punished for being honest” is an absurd state of affairs, so he wants to change the law so that “honesty” doesn’t even come into it.

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  16. ciaron (1,387 comments) says:

    If only honest people are punished, it’s fair to say that you are punished for being honest, which is what Dunne said. “Punished for being honest” is an absurd state of affairs, so he wants to change the law so that “honesty” doesn’t even come into it.

    Yeah, nah.
    they were punished not for their honesty, but for the simple fact that they DID NOT MEET THE MEMBERSHIP REQUIREMENTS.
    whether or not other parties are dis/honest in their reporting is a related, but different issue.

    Dunne really needs to stop the whole “woe is me, I’m so hard done by” bit.

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  17. ciaron (1,387 comments) says:

    1. Being honest will get you deregistered (if you do not have 500 members).
    2. Lying will keep you in the clear.

    FIFY.

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  18. thedavincimode (6,589 comments) says:

    What an arsehole. He still doesn’t get it. Is this how sociopaths start out?

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  19. Manolo (13,516 comments) says:

    With all due respect: Peter Dunne can get effed off! :-)

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  20. thedavincimode (6,589 comments) says:

    I wonder if he deals with his tax obligations in the way he infers he could have dealt with this issue.

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