Cunliffe referred to Police

December 5th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A tweet by Labour leader on Saturday, the day of the Christchurch East by-election, has been referred to police.

Cunliffe published a message on his Twitter profile urging Christchurch East residents to vote for Labour candidate Poto Williams.

“If you are resident in Christchurch East don’t forget to vote today – for Labour and Poto Williams!” he wrote.

Under Electoral Commission rules, no campaigning of any kind is allowed on election day.

The Electoral Commission announced this afternoon it had referred Cunliffe to the police saying it believed he had breached the .

It said Cunliffe had allegedly breached the act because the message “was a statement published on polling day advising, or intended, or likely to influence electors as to the candidate for whom they should or should not vote in the by-election”.

I understand serial litigant has announced that he will do a private prosecution, if the Police don’t prosecute. This will be very embarrassing as it is an open and shut case, and Cunliffe would I think have to plead guilty as there is no dispute he sent the tweet, or that the tweet broke the Act.

Tags: , ,

70 Responses to “Cunliffe referred to Police”

  1. Jack5 (4,220 comments) says:

    Tweetle-dumb Cunliffe.

    Vote: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    DPF

    Come on … How many open and shut cases against Labour MPs have ever been prosecuted ?

    Only ACT MPs ever seem to stand trial for electoral or financial ‘corruption’ ….

    Popular. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. Graeme Edgeler (3,216 comments) says:

    This will be very embarrassing as it is an open and shut case, and Cunliffe would I think have to plead guilty as there is no dispute he sent the tweet, or that the tweet broke the Act.

    That Cunliffe sent the tweet is a matter that would need to be proved by any prosecutor. He could just not say that he did send it. I don’t think he has yet (he said something to the effect that he ‘took responsibility’, I say that’s not enough).

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 9 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. mikemikemikemike (239 comments) says:

    Emabarrasing for who? in the grand scheme of things its hardly the crime of the century, Cunliffe is probably less influential than Lorde (I’ll bet he has less followers on Twitter anyway)…Hell I’d wager that a fair whack of his constituents don’t even have twitter on account of being typical kiwi battlers or what the trendy vernacular is these days.

    Politicians are shameless creatures anyway, and any sanction Cunliffe receives will be the political equivalent of a speeding ticket. It’ll ruin his day but not a lot more.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 21 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. Pete George (21,806 comments) says:

    Andrew Geddis has been saying there’s doubt about whether Cunliffe should be prosecuted.

    Doubt Cunliffe should be prosecuted for tweet

    The tweet endorsing Labour candidate Poto Williams, breached electoral rules banning campaigning on election day.

    But Otago University Law Professor Andrew Geddis says it’s unlikely the tweet was up long enough to influence anybody.

    “As I understand it, Cunliffe put this tweet up and then had it down within minutes.

    “So how many people saw this? And how many of them were in Christchurch East to actually be affected by it?

    Professor Geddis says Cunliffe should have known the tweet would risk a charge, but he doesn’t think it’s worth a prosecution.

    Does it matter how many people saw it? If Cunliffe said it on radio not many people may have heard and it’s over in an instant, would that make it a lesser offence?

    Geddis seems to be suggesting that if no one is affected then it doesn’t warrant a prosecution.

    What if one person was affected? Two? Twenty? What if the election came down to one vote? How many votes affected would warrant a Geddis prosecution?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 22 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    mikemikemikemike – classic lefty apologist for corruption…. It’s not like it made a difference … others did it too…

    Tell us again how the law is something that the MPs pass for other people and they shouldn’t need to be bound by it themselves …

    Popular. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    But Otago University Law Professor Andrew Geddis says it’s unlikely the tweet was up long enough to influence anybody.

    Right – so if a police officer catches you doing 140kph but you are under heavy breaking at the time … Or if you have 1kg of cocaine and you throw it in a bin when the officer sees it …

    You were only doing it for a short time ….

    Popular. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. Pete George (21,806 comments) says:

    According to TVNZ Cunliffe has admitted sending it and making a mistake.

    Labour Party leader David Cunliffe has apologised for posting a tweet on the day of the Christchurch East by-election.

    The Electoral Commission has confirmed it is looking into the matter.

    Mr Cunliffe says he shouldn’t have sent the tweet and it was a straight out mistake on his behalf.

    http://tvnz.co.nz/politics-news/cunliffe-apologises-over-election-tweet-5746751

    And from a Cunliffe media conference:

    A tweet sent by Mr Cunliffe on the morning of the election, which was against Election Commission rules, was an “error”, and was immediately deleted. Labour was cooperating fully with the Electoral Commission inquiry.

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL1312/S00015/david-cunliffe-chch-by-election-chorus-gcsb.htm

    That seems to be an admission.

    Vote: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. mikemikemikemike (239 comments) says:

    I’m no apologist. It’s an observation – do you seriously think Labour are going to be embarrassed by this? Hell the politicians aren’t embarrassed at the pay rises they have just given themselves or how they manage to maintain the loopholes to hide their wealth (especially the sanctimonious greens/labour ones). Do you really think a ticking off from the electoral fuddy duddys is going to bother them?

    It’s like putting tama iti on trial for drunk driving – he has done a lot worse so it simply won’t bother him.

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 6 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. stigie (629 comments) says:

    Phuck me, it will be a slap over the bottom with a wet bus ticket !!~

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    do you seriously think Labour are going to be embarrassed by this?

    Well they were not embarrassed saying the AG made a bad call after even being warned by the Chief Electoral Office. So no … breaking the law is not something Labour have ever worried about.

    Vote: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. Nostalgia-NZ (4,686 comments) says:

    I’m fairly sure that Cunliffe doesn’t recall taking the helicopter ride and that he never ‘tweeted with that phone.’

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    mikemikemikemike

    It’s like putting tama iti on trial for drunk driving …

    With Labour it’s more like saying Tama Iti isn’t the only person to have ever been drink driving so it’s not in the public interest to prosecute him – move on !

    Vote: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. BeaB (1,948 comments) says:

    I love the ‘straightforward mistake’ – Honest Dave strikes again.

    However enjoyable his error is I still think restrictions on election day advertising are outdated and many other countries like Australia feel their voters need not be cossetted in this anachronistic way.

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. slightlyrighty (2,448 comments) says:

    Mikex4.

    You may say that the tweet did not influence anyone, but John Banks did not win the mayoralty either. If it is good enough for Cunliffe to call for Banks to be held to full account for his actions, then Cunliffe should be held to full account for his actions. Or are you advocating for a different.standard for politicians you support??

    Vote: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. Rowan (1,729 comments) says:

    Idiot, this is fairly open and shut, he deserves what he gets from Graham McCready as I doubt the police will bother.

    Vote: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. Pete George (21,806 comments) says:

    I still think restrictions on election day advertising are outdated

    I agree but if one or some candidates or parties flout the current law with impunity:
    - it’s a bad look “l do as I say, not as I do”
    - it gives those who deliberately break the rules a potential advantage

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  18. backster (2,000 comments) says:

    The Public Statement of Andrew Geddes (law professor) exonerating Cunliffe on the basis that the tweet wasn’t up very long seems odd to me. Surely it is the corrupt intent with which the statement was made that is important. The other Law Expert Graeme Edgeler seems to be placing a higher hurdle in the way of a prosecution against Cunliffe than the succesful case against Banks.

    Vote: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  19. Ross12 (927 comments) says:

    “Geddis seems to be suggesting that if no one is affected then it doesn’t warrant a prosecution.”

    As slighlyrighty has said above, if it good enough for John Banks to have to go to Court when did not win the election and no one lost money etc then Cunliffe has to be lined as well. That is, Geddis is talking rubbish.

    Cunliffe was publically calling John Banks a disgrace and should not be in Parliament a day os ago. I note on another thread that Cunliffe’s crime warrants a bigger maximum fine than John Bank’s supposed crime ( he hasn’t be found gulty yet !!) so talk about the pot calling the kettle black from Cunliffe.

    Vote: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  20. edhunter (434 comments) says:

    No BeaB we don’t want what Australia’s system, having to run the gauntlet of leaflet hander outers trying to shove a piece of paper into your hand telling you who to vote for outside every voting station, it’s an aggravation you don’t need & I think the Kiwi system works very well.
    Off course voting is compulsory in Australia so I suppose it’s possible some people have no idea who they’re going to vote for until they get a pretty piece of paper shoved into their hand 2 mins before they vote but do you really want those people voting ?

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  21. Dennis Horne (2,059 comments) says:

    Carting lazy Labour voters off to the booth on the day has a far greater effect on the outcome of the election than any advertising.

    Vote: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  22. Pete George (21,806 comments) says:

    I would be seriously pissed off if someone tried to tell me how to vote going to a booth. But online it’s already very messy – you can post something just before midnight and leave it prominent right through election day.

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  23. Nostalgia-NZ (4,686 comments) says:

    Maybe the public should be entitled to expect the holding of pollies standards with regards to the Law to the highest level, if they were charged as a matter of course then it would be a Judge deciding their culpability and they might tread more carefully. That may resolve the political bickering and concerns within the public that they are allowed to get away with things. Pretty hard to reconcile the fact that police didn’t think there was enough to charge Banks, yet now he is committed to trial.

    Vote: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  24. wikiriwhis business (3,286 comments) says:

    ‘Pretty hard to reconcile the fact that police didn’t think there was enough to charge Banks, yet now he is committed to trial.’

    Obviously police should be compleltely overlooked in these civil matters and taken straight over their heads.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  25. Colville (1,774 comments) says:

    It would be interesting to read thru Cuntliffes comments WRT the Banks case and his calls for Banks to resign/quit etc

    The Banks fine is max $10K and Cuntliffes $20K?

    Vote: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  26. Nigel Kearney (747 comments) says:

    I do agree with Andrew Geddis. Cunliffe did break the law but the police have to prioritize and they should look at this after they have finished fully investigating every reported burglary, i.e. never under current resourcing.

    It doesn’t even make sense to support the prosecution as a partisan political tactic. Voters can see the law is silly. If Parliament says you have to eat your broccoli and somebody catches an MP with a stalk left on their plate and insists on prosecution, are the voters going to care by the time the next election rolls around? And the law Cunliffe broke is a greater restriction on liberty and has less upside than a broccoli eating law.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 15 You need to be logged in to vote
  27. davidp (3,320 comments) says:

    Most of our electoral law seems to serve no useful purpose, except to trip politicians up over trivia so that their opponents can act holier-than-tho. This applies to the cases against both Cunliffe and Banks, and all the other complaints to the police covering “crimes” like balloons missing authorisation statements or whatever.

    The laws are dumb. The police realise this, which is why they ignore complaints. They certainly don’t want to be used as a tool for politicians to bash each other. The best outcome would be to prosecute Cunliffe, have the courts throw out the cases against both Cunliffe and Banks, and use that as a reason to simplify a set of pointless laws.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 9 You need to be logged in to vote
  28. In Vino Veritas (136 comments) says:

    Where was McCready when Goff breached suppression laws?

    Vote: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  29. dime (8,752 comments) says:

    About an hour ago i saw a labour sign – vote NO blah blah

    is that still allowed to be up?

    Cnr of Sunset & target roads, Glenfield (or sunnynook?).

    Vote: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  30. Chuck Bird (4,406 comments) says:

    I am not into tweeting. Can someone please tell me does a tweet go to someone’s cellphone or computer and stay there? If that is the case it appears deleting it does littler good.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  31. georgebolwing (493 comments) says:

    From what I heard Prof Geddis saying on the radio this morning, he has doubts about whether a tweet comes within the relevant part of the Electoral Act (Section 197), which provides that a person commits an offence who “at any time on polling day before the close of the poll exhibits in or in view of any public place, or publishes, or distributes, or broadcasts, …(i) any statement advising or intended or likely to influence any elector as to the candidate or party for whom the elector should or should not vote;”. His question, as I understand it, was whether loading a message into your twitter account constitutes “publishes, or distributes, or broadcasts”. There is also the question of whether any elector in the seat received the tweet, since the offence is directed at electors, which in a by-election is a specific sub-group of the population.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4 You need to be logged in to vote
  32. Paul Marsden (935 comments) says:

    Rowan (1,240 comments) says:

    December 5th, 2013 at 11:33 am
    Idiot, this is fairly open and shut, he deserves what he gets from Graham McCready as I doubt the police will bother.

    Vote: 6 1

    Absolutely correct. The arrogance of Cunliffe knows no bounds. A particlular aggravating factor is the fact that he used the word “today” in his tweet.

    GE is also drawing along bow in suggesting the prosecution has to prove he sent it. Here’s an idea GE, how about dusting his device for finger prints?? Besides, he’s already fessed up.

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  33. AG (1,727 comments) says:

    it is an open and shut case, and Cunliffe would I think have to plead guilty as there is no dispute he sent the tweet, or that the tweet broke the Act.

    First up, Cunliffe was silly to send this. It was careless (at best).

    Second, if Cunliffe is charged (even though a decision to do so would be out of step with the Police’s usual reluctance to prosecute election law cases … note that the cases of people tweeting/facebooking at the 2011 election it referred to the police are still unresolved), I’d recommend he just plead guilty and seek a discharge without conviction. Fighting the charge would be a silly distraction, and any “win” would be on a legal technicality.

    But all that said, I’m not 100% certain that there is no ground to dispute that the tweet broke the Act.

    First up, the message must have been “published or distributed” on election day. There’s a broad definition of “publish” in s.3D that covers tweeting … but does it apply to the particular offence provision (s.3d applies “unless context otherwise requires”)? Because s.197(g) also makes reference to displaying messages “in or in view of a public place”. So it is arguable that the offence is only meant to cover the act of making public to the whole world messages that are meant to affect how people vote. And does tweeting do that, given that people have to sign up to receive them?

    Second, the prosecution will have to show that the tweet was “advising … any elector as to the candidate … for whom the elector should … vote”. Now, if I had got his tweet (which I didn’t, ’cause I’m not on Twitter), it wouldn’t satisfy this part of the offence provision (because living in Dunedin, I can’t vote in ChCh East). So the police will have to establish that at least one of Cunliffe’s 6500 followers who actually received the tweet and read it before he deleted it are electors in ChCh East.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8 You need to be logged in to vote
  34. MH (558 comments) says:

    from past preamble

    UPDATE: The Electoral Commission wrote to all parties contesting the by-election the day before, telling them what the rules are for e-day and they even specifically referred to not using Twitter to campaign.

    Vote: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  35. Rowan (1,729 comments) says:

    Paul
    Yes he is exceedingly arrogant, I remember listing to one of his pieces where he was saying something along the lines of “after the election, when Labour are in government”
    Nats are the best of the bad lot, Labour still have quite a long way to go before they stand a chance.

    Vote: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  36. Pete George (21,806 comments) says:

    Chuck…

    Can someone please tell me does a tweet go to someone’s cellphone or computer and stay there?

    Good point. It may depend on what client you’re using, there’s many available.

    Using the standard twitter.com client deleted tweets stay on screen as you load more tweets, they only disappear if you refresh or start a new session.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  37. tas (527 comments) says:

    Private prosecution is better than nothing.

    Vote: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  38. kiwi in america (2,336 comments) says:

    davidp
    The Police ignore the law because they’ve got better things to do with their time than allocate resources to investigate breaches of the Electoral Act. I support Whaleoil’s call for an Independent Commission on Corruption that could be empowered to investigate and prosecute electoral breaches. Having been responsible for directing the hauling down of not only every hoarding in an electorate but also any vestige of political advertising such as leaflets in letterboxes (left there for days after a drop) and glued on fliers onto lampposts, it is a nightmare because any one of these could potentially lead to charges and indeed on more than one occasion, I’ve gotten phone calls from Returning Officers. Even rosettes for scrutineers can be deemed by overzealous RO’s as ‘electioneering’.

    In the US, hoardings stay up for weeks after elections as most jurisdictions’ rules are more about the clutter to the landscape than about the electioneering. I’ve voted in Australia (back in the day when citizens of Commonwealth countries resident in Aussie for 6 months were allowed to vote!) and it as edhunter says, a free for all of electioneering. I really don’t think it hurts democracy in Australia although the stated purpose is to assist voters with their complex preferential voting papers for the Senate.

    NZ prides itself over its clean elections but it has led to, by global standards, an extremely rigid environment around election day activity. It is next to impossible to judge what influence Cunliffe’s tweet had on voter turnout but that’s irrelevant. I stand to be corrected by Graham Edgeler but it’s likely certain less serious Electoral Act breaches are strict liability offences; you either did or didn’t commit the offence, there’s no scope to plead not guilty merely to argue mitigating circumstances in sentencing.

    It is interesting to note that McCready has threatened private prosecution. Given that the District Court chose to send Banks to trial for breaches of the far more complex and arcane Local Government Electoral Act, it would be almost an expression of political bias for a DC judge faced with McCready’s prosecution to not order Cunliffe to trial. It would certainly be an embarrassment for Cunliffe.

    If we are going to persist with the very strict laws on electioneering then we need a fair handed way to administer it and to charge parties and candidates with any breach however minor to tidy up what is becoming an increasingly sloppy adherence to the law or amend the law and bring it into line with most other first world democracies.

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  39. Graeme Edgeler (3,216 comments) says:

    The other Law Expert Graeme Edgeler seems to be placing a higher hurdle in the way of a prosecution against Cunliffe than the succesful case against Banks.

    Nope. The prosecution against Banks has same very high hurdle – proof beyond reasonably doubt. Even if the jury thinks Banks is almost surely knew Dotcom and Skycity made the donations and almost surely knew they were falsely declared, he is entitled to an acquittal.

    Vote: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  40. labrator (1,691 comments) says:

    @chuck bird It depends on your twitter client. If you are just using the website and your refresh your screen, it’s gone once deleted. However most twitter users use some sort of twitter client which will cache the tweet for a variable amount of time. It’s possible that the tweet may take a long time to disappear. However in terms of “effectively” disappearing, most tweets only appear in someones timeline for a short period of time as it is pushed down the queue by newer tweets and the nature of the beast is that you’re interested in what’s happening recently only.

    The law is rather silly in that he could’ve written that tweet at 1 second to midnight and left it there for the day and that would be ok. Also, would a retweet, when someone “passes on” the original tweet be counted as breaking the law if within that timeframe? The absurdities are endless. The burden of proof should probably be coercion rather than dissemination.

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  41. Reid (15,531 comments) says:

    Mr Cunliffe says he shouldn’t have sent the tweet and it was a straight out mistake on his behalf.

    How can any politician at all let alone an experienced one not know absolute basics like this action goes against well established electoral law? How can anyone be expected to believe it could possibly be a mistake? How can anyone send a tweet believing it won’t be picked up, especially when that someone is an ex-Minister of ICT?

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  42. Graeme Edgeler (3,216 comments) says:

    Given that the District Court chose to send Banks to trial for breaches of the far more complex and arcane Local Government Electoral Act, it would be almost an expression of political bias for a DC judge faced with McCready’s prosecution to not order Cunliffe to trial.

    1. Section 197 of the Electoral Act is far more arcane than section 134 of the Local Electoral Act.

    2. Cunliffe’s charge is less serious, so there’s no possibility of a jury trial, and no need to go through any sort of committal process at all (which incidentally, has been abolished for more serious charges as well, since the prosecution against Banks was commenced).

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  43. RightNow (6,338 comments) says:

    Let’s not overlook this special occasion though, a politician has promptly owned up to a mistake.

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  44. jackinabox (352 comments) says:

    “Pretty hard to reconcile the fact that police didn’t think there was enough to charge Banks, yet now he is committed to trial.”

    That’s one of the reasons I hate the cops. They knew damn well there was enough evidence to charge Banks but the corrupt bastards were looking after their dodgy mate and former police minster.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8 You need to be logged in to vote
  45. All_on_Red (941 comments) says:

    Right Now
    Only because he has been caught

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  46. Ross12 (927 comments) says:

    The Labour Party and Cunliffe in particular has bought this mess on themselves. If they had not have been continually gloating over the Banks situation for months and particularly in the last week then most people would have “glossed over” Cunliffe’s action (It was not a mistake. It was deliberate action and for him to expect the voting public to see any other way is simply arrogance of the highest order on his part).
    So Cunliffe is going to have to go through the same hoops as John Banks has. , simply because he cannot “engage his brain” before opening mouth.

    Grahan Edgeler –how can Cunliffe’s charge be less serious if the maximum fine is higher ?

    Vote: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  47. Nookin (2,887 comments) says:

    There are many ways of approaching the comparison between the Cunliffe and the Banks incidents.

    I think the primary point to observe at this stage is that we do not have all of the facts. Some people appear to be adamant that Banks committed a deliberate but that Cunliffe committed a misdemeanour which was stupid and thoughtless. Of course this presupposes that Cunliffe really had no idea that you were not allowed to undertake electioneering on election day and that Banks definitely knew what he was signing and that it was false.

    There may well be some people who suggest that the leader of the opposition and a relatively long serving parliamentarian might have picked up by now that electioneering on polling date is generally regarded as a no no. It is not as though the matter is not well publicised. I would think that there are very few people in the country who are not aware of the prohibition.

    I think that the consensus seems to be that Banks’actions rank somewhere between “dodgy” and criminal. This is simply based on anecdotal evidence and as proof of nothing other than intuition. Banks has not had his say in court. I have not read the evidence. I have not seen any suggestion that Banks knew that these donations had in fact been made. I do not know how many $25,000 donations there were. I have to keep an open mind on this but it seems reasonably easy to form the view that he may have deliberately closed his mind to his obligations or at least prepared the ground for him to be able to sign a declaration without repercussions.

    There is a lot of talk about electoral fraud. Norman accuses Banks of electoral fraud. It is not electoral fraud. There is no such animal in the Local Electoral Act or the Electoral Act. There are corrupt and illegal practices. These are actions likely to affect the outcome of an election. They are generally regarded as more serious. There are also false declarations. These do not affect the outcome of an election but do, to some extent, attack the integrity of the electoral process. Different penalties for the different offences may or may not be the appropriate reflection of the severity of individual cases.

    Banks is not guilty of fraud as that term is commonly perceived, if in fact he is guilty of anything. Fraud is generally regarded as dishonesty calculated to achieve an outcome. Banks did nothing that might influence the outcome of the election. At the most he deliberately signed a false declaration withholding information about donations. This of course happens after the event.

    I am not trivialising the severity of what he may have done because on a worst case scenario, he may be the sort of person who is prepared to take money in anticipation of being able to help a constituent (in this case, remember that we are talking about somebody at local authority level where there is probably limited scope as opposed to somebody at national level who can definitely assist somebody in circumstances such as Dotcom (à la Field)).

    Cunliffe, on the other hand, may well have engaged in an activity which, on a worst-case scenario, was calculated to affect the outcome of the election and which may well have influenced voting. There is no other explanation for his action other than to persuade somebody to go out and vote Labour. To some, it may be seen to be of a more serious nature than an offence not calculated to influence the outcome of an election.

    The mental element is also important. It is suggested that Cunliffe was in error. With due respect, provided Cunliffe was responsible for sending the Tweet, I find it easier to believe that Cunliffe was fully aware of what he was doing and had a full appreciation of the law. It is simply untenable for a wannabe Prime Minister and long-standing parliamentarian to suggest that he was mistaken about the law. I have not been able to track down all his explanations but I understand that there have been at least 2. The first one was that it was sent in error. The 2nd one is that it was sent in ignorance. Sadly for Mr Cunliffe, neither of these explanations appear convincing.

    There are also other differentiating factors. The Banks matters relate to local authority elections. The Cunliffe matter relates to a national election and involves the leader of the opposition.

    The Banks incident, if proved, involves dishonesty. The Cunliffe incident, if proved, may involve a deliberate flouting of the law to political advantage. There is no issue of honesty or otherwise in the offence but that matter does arise in relation to the explanation.

    Everyone will have their different views of the matter and place weight and emphasis differently. Many will do so based solely on political persuasion.

    In the long term, while one cannot condone anything that Banks may have done (and we have to wait for the outcome of the trial), I have to say that I do have some long-term concerns about a wannabe Prime Minister who is on record as having said “I am in charge here”, who has openly threatened directors, shareholders and other institutions with the full weight of the prime ministerial office if they do not cough up funds for which they are not liable and who, now, may well have deliberately flouted election laws for the sole purposes of achieving a favourable electoral outcome.

    Banks is going. Cunliffe is not (at least not at this stage). Who is of greatest concern?

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  48. Dennis Horne (2,059 comments) says:

    I agree with Andrew Geddis so I’m sure he’s right for once. Ha! The fact is Cunliffe twits a tweet and Banks allegedly snips a treat – 50k. But it’s not the money, it’s the bullshit.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  49. edd (145 comments) says:

    What I want to know, seeing as it’s legal to post tweets at 11:59 pm the night before election day, was whether National or Labour had any tweets, urging people to vote for them, posted the day before, that were visible to all on election day…

    If this is the case then the whole matter is a farce pure and simple… Like saying your not allowed to put up any new signs on election day, but any signs put up the days and weeks before are allowed to stay up….

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  50. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    edd

    If this is the case then the whole matter is a farce pure and simple…

    No.. Incorrect. These people wrote the laws so no matter how stupid they are – they are bound by them… Well that’s the theory even if we seldom see it in practice.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  51. Graeme Edgeler (3,216 comments) says:

    how can Cunliffe’s charge be less serious if the maximum fine is higher ?

    Banks also faces the possibility of a prison term of up to two years (although he won’t get prison if convicted, it is available for the charge). The charge Cunliffe is being investigated for is fine only.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  52. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    Graeme Edgeler

    Also don’t forget the key issue for justice here – It’s different when Labour do it !

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  53. Tom Jackson (2,235 comments) says:

    Cunliffe should be given a small fine in line with the severity of the breach. A couple of hundred dollars or so or a larger donation to a charity.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6 You need to be logged in to vote
  54. Tom Jackson (2,235 comments) says:

    The crime of the century.

    Cunliffe sends tweet.

    Followers say “Hey Dave, what about the electoral act?”

    Cunliffe “oh fuck”.

    Deletes tweet.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 11 You need to be logged in to vote
  55. edd (145 comments) says:

    @ burt

    “No.. Incorrect. These people wrote the laws so no matter how stupid they are – they are bound by them… Well that’s the theory even if we seldom see it in practice.”

    Yes but technology has changed since this particular law was written which has made it practically obsolete… People can post one minute before midnight and have their campaign messages visible all through election day, but people can’t post on election day itself…

    What’s the point of a law that can be made a complete mockery of by all and sundry? And if a old law is now a mockery (due to technological advancements in this case) then should people still be prosecuted for breaching it? Or should it just be changed?

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  56. Dennis Horne (2,059 comments) says:

    There was an old pollie called Banks
    Who thinks he is smart with pranks
    If funny money’s concerned
    He risks being interned
    And wishes he’d said to Kim Schmitz “No thanks.”

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4 You need to be logged in to vote
  57. edd (145 comments) says:

    @Graeme Edgeler

    “Banks also faces the possibility of a prison term of up to two years (although he won’t get prison if convicted, it is available for the charge). The charge Cunliffe is being investigated for is fine only.”

    Are there criminal records at stake in either case?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  58. lilman (662 comments) says:

    With Banks the review didn’t say there was evidence of deceit,what he ruled was there was enough evidence to put Banks before the court because of Public interest in the outcome.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  59. Tom Jackson (2,235 comments) says:

    A strapping young man named John Banks
    draped a pink tutu around his long shanks
    We found it quite scary
    Him dressed like a fairy
    And begging boys to give him some spanks.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 11 You need to be logged in to vote
  60. Dennis Horne (2,059 comments) says:

    There was a clever old blogger called Tom
    Whose aim was to drop a stink bomb
    With comments so wry
    He did ever so try
    Bank’s tribe who wanted it all kept schtum.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 7 You need to be logged in to vote
  61. DJP6-25 (1,229 comments) says:

    Labour are trying to give us the most wonderful gift of all. A socialist millenium. For this reason alone, they are held to a different standard. The number of mice the cat catches is immaterial as long as the mouse is RED. In other words, Labour have nothing to worry about.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  62. MH (558 comments) says:

    If you have received this tweet in error
    I cannot try to make it clearer

    I merely asked you to vote labour
    no need to rattle your sabre

    It’s just another conspiracy by Farrar

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6 You need to be logged in to vote
  63. Nostalgia-NZ (4,686 comments) says:

    ‘First up, the message must have been “published or distributed” on election day. There’s a broad definition of “publish” in s.3D that covers tweeting … but does it apply to the particular offence provision (s.3d applies “unless context otherwise requires”)? Because s.197(g) also makes reference to displaying messages “in or in view of a public place”. So it is arguable that the offence is only meant to cover the act of making public to the whole world messages that are meant to affect how people vote. And does tweeting do that, given that people have to sign up to receive them?

    Second, the prosecution will have to show that the tweet was “advising … any elector as to the candidate … for whom the elector should … vote”. Now, if I had got his tweet (which I didn’t, ’cause I’m not on Twitter), it wouldn’t satisfy this part of the offence provision (because living in Dunedin, I can’t vote in ChCh East). So the police will have to establish that at least one of Cunliffe’s 6500 followers who actually received the tweet and read it before he deleted it are electors in ChCh East.’

    I don’t go along with the ‘whole world’ argument, he had an intended target and it doesn’t matter if he reached them or not,
    ‘they’ being the 6500 ‘followers. I’ve read Judgements in which that point is made about ‘international’ communications of the WW net, in particular which country they arise from rather than where they might be read. If Cunliffe was able to prove the tweet wasn’t received by anybody, it doesn’t give him any credit for in fact ‘publishing’ it. If it is indeed not a publication but a private message the onus should be on him to prove that – because he despatched it and I’d be surprised if his ‘tweets’ were not consistently political with that being the purpose of his ‘tweeting.’

    Better for the Courts to sort these sort of matters out.

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  64. Dennis Horne (2,059 comments) says:

    If you have received this tweet
    Get off your arse to your feet
    Go down to the polls
    Vote for the molls
    ‘Cos my leadership’s in the sheet.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4 You need to be logged in to vote
  65. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    edd

    Yes but technology has changed since this particular law was written which has made it practically obsolete…

    Right … so because the law makers haven’t got around to changing the law they get to ignore it ???? Is that what you are saying ??? That the people in this country with the sole ability to craft and pass laws couldn’t be bothered updating the law to be relevant so they can ignore it ????

    How much of an apologist are you ???

    First you say it was a farce then when presented with the information that MPs are required to abide by the laws they pass you think … Oh I know … lets make a new defense for a law maker not following the law … lets say the law is no longer relevant …

    It’s people like you that defend the indefensible …. Are you protesting against Banks being prosecuted because Winston wasn’t for virtually the same thing ?

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  66. Ross12 (927 comments) says:

    Nostalgia-NZ

    Agree with your points re the intention of the tweet. Also we should not forget what PG, raised earlier in the day, concerning retweeting. So it is not just 6500 linked to Cunliffe.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  67. edd (145 comments) says:

    @burt

    “Right … so because the law makers haven’t got around to changing the law they get to ignore it ???? Is that what you are saying ??? That the people in this country with the sole ability to craft and pass laws couldn’t be bothered updating the law to be relevant so they can ignore it ????”

    Who couldn’t be bothered updating the law? Last time I checked David Cunliffe was in the opposition. If anything it’s a failing of the ruling party to sort out this particular law. That’s why I’m wondering if National had any tweets visible during the election day.

    Maybe David Cunliffe saw National party tweets all over the place, that had been posted legally the night before, and thought, if the ruling party are doing it so can I. Then, when getting some better advice he pulled the tweet?

    Just asking the question.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  68. edd (145 comments) says:

    @burt

    “It’s people like you that defend the indefensible ….”

    Our own New Zealand government spying on us New Zealanders is indefensible… So I won’t be defending that…

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6 You need to be logged in to vote
  69. noskire (797 comments) says:

    His tweet would have been far more effective if he had finished with “…my shout at KFC.”

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  70. Andronicus (185 comments) says:

    Turning to armed struggle wa

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.