Labour just might be the luckiest party in history. You see all the focus in on the pledge cards, yet the *other* $400,000 seemingly identified by the Auditor-General as illegal epxenditure could have wiped out most of their Caucus if it had been known in time.
Now in this I am assuming that any expenditure the Auditor-General has identified as electioneering, would also be found by the High Court to be election advertising in terms of the Electoral Act. The actual definitions are different, but as the Electoral Act definition is quite broad, it is highly highly likely any expenditure identified by the AG as electionering would be seen as election advertising under the Act, and hence an *election expense*. The reverse does not necessairly apply.
Now of this extra $400,000, some of it will be from inidividual Labour MPs and would be seen as promoting their constituency election. Now only Labour, PSC and teh AG know the breakdown and hopefully it will come out one day. But for now let’as assume $200,000 of the extra $400,000 is related to constituency MPs. On average that is $6,500 per constituency MPs.
Now if you add this to each Labour MPs election return, it would probably push all 31 Labour constituency MPs over their $20,000 limit. Now we can not know this without having details from the AG, but it is a very distinct possibility.
There is no way of testing this as electoral petitions have to be filed within 28 days of the return of the writs. But just think if National had known the extent of Labour’s activities and had filed electoral petitions. Every Labour constituency MP could be out of Parliament having broken the spending limit.
Now again as I say this is just a theory. But if we ever get the full details from the AG of the illegal spending, broken down by MP, then one could add the amounts to their election returns and work out who would have been caught.
Yes, Labour may have been very very lucky. And next time I am sure there is going to be intense scrutiny on Labour’s spending both nationally, and locally.