Labour are attempting a con job on an unprecedented scale with their validating legislation. They are going to ram through Parliament a law which goes well beyond validating illegal expenditure. Let me explain.
The only expenditure that needs validating, is that identified by the Auditor-General from the 04/05 financial year.
Therefore the proper course of action for the Government is to introduce legislation that will validate only that year, and to not ream it through Parliament under urgency, but allow it to follow normal process, including select committee hearings.
If that is what Labour puts forward, then National should probably support it. But alas Labour are going for the big con job. As Matthew Hooton noted yesterday in the SST, no legislation should be passed anyway until the money has been repaid. You absolutely can not trust Labour to backtrack – because they already did it with the Chief Electoral Officer before the election. It’s a proven track record of agreeing to something and backtracking when the heat is off.
Now look at what else Labour proposes to force through Parliament. It also wants to change the law for the 2005/06 year (which is not yet signed off). This would retroespectively change the law to defeat a current lawsuit which looked likely to win – Darnton v Clark. .
It is vital Darnton v Clark be allowed to proceed? Why? Labour claim that the Auditor-General got it wrong. Well the court case will allow the issue (in terms of the pledge card anyway) to be settled for once and all. A ruling by the High Court that the pledge card was illegal will be even more damaging that the AG’s finding, so they are trying to kill the lawsuit.
The othe big con, is Labour are seeking to over-turn the Auditor-General’s report by passing legislation to temporarily allow them to spend their parliamentary budgets on whatever they like (so long as no explicit call for votes etc). This means that their pledge card would be made legal in future.
This is a totally seperate issue to the validating legislation and should be a seperate bill, which again goes to select committee. If this bill is passed, Labour will once again be free to spend $800,000+ during an election campaign of taxpayers money.
So I say yes to validating legislation for 04/05 only, but no to everything else.