Today’s editorial is so spot on, I’m going to quote almost all of it:
Fundamentally, Helen Clark and her cohorts believe any publicity they want to pump out is worthy of public funding. In fact, they believe party election campaigns should be financed entirely from public funds, and have tried to turn their difficulties with the Auditor-General into a case for complete public funding. They have succeeded only in revealing the depth of their error.
Only a party that believes all of its publicity should be state-financed could have made the decision to pay for something as blatant as its pledge card from the public information account of the Prime Minister’s Department. The pledge card was so clearly a campaign publication that even Parliament’s closest observers had assumed it was produced from party funds.
Yet the mindset of Labour leaders was such that they went ahead to produce the card from a public account even after the Auditor-General had raised issues over the rules before the election last year. When the misappropriation was revealed in the Auditor-General’s subsequent report, Labour decided it would legitimise the election spending retrospectively. Now that a Herald DigiPoll Survey has shown the extent of public disapproval of that cynical use of legislative power, the party appears to be dreaming up new ways to avoid paying its bill.
Labour has its back to the wall on this issue and is flailing about to find comparable spending by its opponents. It cites contributions to National by a religious group, as if that had anything to do with a misuse of public funds, and for which that party was rightly, separately, castigated for its economy with the truth. That argument is over. Voters had their say on National’s lack of judgment about its links to the Exclusive Brethren. Now Labour has dredged up National material from the election before the rules were clarified. It is all a bit desperate.
There is no way around Labour’s liability for its errors at the last election. It must pay the bill and call it a salutary lesson in the limits to which the public will pay for political puff.