The Treasury Advice

Thank you to Dr Cullen’s office who kindly e-mailed me both the Treasury Advice on validating legislation and also Dr Cullen’s cabinet paper. They are both downladable as word docs.

Okay looking at the Treasury advice, it is quite clear that the only expenses they recommend are validated are those found by the Controller and Auditor-General. They do say it has implications for expenditure since 1 July 1989, but they do not explicitly say you need to validate back that far. The Cabinet Paper does recommend validating back to 1989, but the scope of that paper is “as requested” by Dr Cullen.

Also nowhere does Treasury say this needs to be done under urgency. In fact they say validating expenditure is fairly common and normally done as a “usual part of the overall budget legislative cycle”.

Also nowhere does Treasury say they believe a temporary definition of funding entitlement for parliamentary purposes is needed. This is only dealt with in the Cabinet Paper by Dr Cullen.

Turning to the Cabinet Paper, most of it is similar to the introductory note in the legislation. But there is one section in there which, unwittingly, proves my case that the Police botched the Electoral Act investigation.

One of the major criticisms of the police inquiry is that they spent all their time looking into whether the pledge card should have been funded by Parliament (which had nothing to do with them) instead of assessing whether it was expenditure as defined by the Electoral Act. The Chief Electoral Officer had made it very clear that who pays for something does not matter for the Act.

So what does Dr Cullen say in his cabinet paper:

For the purposes of the electoral finance regime, the source of funding for “election expenses”, whether from parliamentary or private sources, is irrelevant. The focus is on whether the expenditure is an “election expense” as defined under the Electoral Act, including whether the expenditure is authorised by the party or candidate and the advertising occurs within the 3 months before Election Day.

Now Dr Cullen here is entirely correct. But this is huge all the same. It is further proof positive the Police investigation was incompetent. National should send this extract to Commissioner Broad to point out even the Govt thinks their investigation was incompetent. Incidentally Dr Cullen’s advice varies from that of the defendant Heather Simpson who asserted to the Police the PSC guidelines over-ruled the Electoral Act in terms of what is an election activity. the Police seemingly accepted this view, despite it being obviously wrong (as Dr Cullen himself now points out).

UPDATE: Dean Knight reviews the advice and gives it a C-

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