Not just the Herald

The Herald has (rightly) been seen as the media outlet most oppossed to the Electoral Finance Act. But they have lots of allies.

The Dominion Post said:

When United Future MP Peter Dunne is prepared to jump ship, it’s a fair bet the vessel in question is the Titanic, The Dominion Post writes.

… The legislation is undemocratic, and the process by which Labour and its supporters have foisted it on the public has been an exercise in the arrogance of power.… The indefensibility of Labour’s position is only highlighted by the fact that at the same time it acted to restrict the role of those outside Parliament in political debate, it ensured that MPs are protected against challengers by extending a temporary regime that allows them to spend public money on their campaigns in a way the auditor-general had previously ruled was illegal.

And The Press says:

In any event, whatever happens next year, the legislation is thoroughly bad law and the process by which it was shoved through Parliament indefensible.

The Government has only itself to blame for the mess it has made of the matter. The bill was introduced with next to no consultation with anyone other than the cronies Labour needed to get it through the House. This was unforgivable for legislation of this kind. Consensus may be an unreachable goal on something as inherently as contentious as electoral finance, but some measure of consultation was called for. Labour did not make the slightest effort at it. The result was a bill that was a disaster that few but the party’s most uncritical followers could swallow. It was all too plainly designed not to deal honestly and fairly with an important problem but rather to shield an embattled government from any critical comment during an election year. The Government has since made multiple amendments in an attempt to remove some of the more offensive elements of the legislation, but the effort has not been sufficient. The Government was clearly prepared from the outset to ride roughshod over long-established principles. Trying to patch the matter up with all sorts of adjustments and fixes was never going to work. It should have gone back and started the process over.

The country is now left with a highly inadequate piece of legislation governing a central element of the democratic process. Parties and pressure groups will enter the election year with no clear idea of what sort of advertising is permissible. There is a clear risk that parties will engage in tit-for-tat complaints to try to shut down rivals by tying them up with expensive and time-consuming legal battles. Worse than that, from January 1, 11 months before any likely election, a firm engaged by the Electoral Commission will be conducting surveillance of political advertising to see that it complies with the law, something that will strike most fair-minded people as having the smack of Big Brother about it.

The Northern Advocate:

It’s a victory for shroud-waving, paranoia, envy and deceit. It gives power to the parties and to hell with the people. It says that if you can’t win by fair means, then make the foul lawful.

It has all been a telling illustration of how immune politicians can become to adverse public opinion that they can treat those to whom they should be answerable with such arrogance.

Having none themselves, they fail to recognise principles in others and scorn any who raise a voice in dissent as being driven by greed and self interest. By their definition it is not possible to defend democracy or to be capable of moral rectitude without agreeing implicitly with their own political ambitions.

I am told there is also an excellent ODT editorial, but I can’t locate a copy.

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