Regardless of whether or not political parties agree with the Auditor-General’s decisions on what expenditure was illegal, refusing to pay money back is not an acceptable option.
You either seek a judicial review of his findings, or you respect the rule of law. Many taxpayers do not agree with IRD decisions on what they owe, but they don’t get to decide whether or not they pay.
NZ First, United Future and the Greens are looking very hestitant about paying back their respective debts of $157,934, $71,867 and $87,192.
I have a proposal. If any party refuses to pay their money back, a group be formed to fund-raise the exact amount owing, and that money be spent during the election campaigning against that party specifically on the issue of their putting themselves above the law. For United Future this campaign would focus on Ohariu-Belmont, and for the other parties it would be targetted either nationally or in seats where their Leader is standing.
I have no doubt we could raise the money. There are a lot of very very angry people about. And we don’t just want paid advertising – we want people attending every Meet the Candidate’s meeting in every electorate getting up and reminding people about any refusal to pay back illegal funds. We want letters to the editor etc. We want the major issue for voters considering supporting those parties to be this issue. We want every candidate for those parties to have to defend the non-repayment of illegal taxpayer funds.
Labour have finally done the right thing (in paying it back – does not nullify doing it in first place though), and it is unacceptable that the other parties do not do the same.