The end of the battle

I started blogging on the proposed changes to the Electoral Act on 6 December 2006.  Ironically it was a post about how National had agreed to lend bi-partisan support to Helen Clark’s moves to reform the Electoral Act.

And this really highlights the magnitude of Labour’s incompetence on this issue.  National was nervous about being seen to defend secret trusts, anonymous donations and parallel campaigns by the Brethren. They did not want electoral reform to be a controversial issue.

All Labour had to do a year ago was sit down with National, and other parties, and agree on some basic principles, publish them for public comment, and then introduce a law based on that.  It would have flown through.

My 2nd post in March was to express concern at secret negotiations on the EFB and that changes should only be made with bipartisan support or an election commitment.  My concern was truly justified.

Then in April I commented on the leaked Cabinet paper.  And while I took issue with a couple of self serving aspects (protecting Owen Glenn’s donation) I blogged support for most of the proposals.

Then the Herald got hold of further details such as state funding of parties and extending the 90 day period and I started to go negative.

Then there was nothing for three months as Labour continued with secret negotiations instead of having a public policy process.  They are the only ones to blame for the law being passed a week before Christmas.

And then we saw in July their desire to screw maximum advantage for themselves and the outright incompetence of Mark Burton combined to create the horror known as the original Electoral Finance Bill. And that is why opposition rose up to it.  I certainly was planning to support the Electoral Finance Bill initially, and just seek improvements.  I never imagined it would be so draconian and unprecedented that one could get the Human Rights Commission and the Law Society agreeing it should be thrown out rather than amended.

Anyway since December 2006, I have made a total of 192 posts on the subject of the changes to the Electoral Act.  There are also 26 posts from early 2006 detailing Labour’s corrupt behaviour in the 2005 election where they defied the Chief Electoral Office and over-spent deliberately, bring the category total to 218.  This will be No 219.

The word count is somewhat horrific but I have published over 91,000 words on the Electoral Finance Bill. Now some of that is cut and paste but still a scary amount of words.

But it has been worth it.  Sadly the bill is about to pass, but those who support it have suffered for it, and hopefully will suffer next year for it.  And also many of the improvements to the EFB are due to the strength of the opposition.

I believe the blogs have played a pretty significant role.  Just one example is the submission of the Human Rights Commission.  This was not picked up by any media outlet as the media traditionally only cover submitters when they appear orally.  It was blogs which went through the 700 or so submissions, started writing about them, and then had the media follow through with stories. 

The same happened with some articles on the bill.  A couple of legal opinions strongly attacking the EFB were scanned in and placed on blogs.  Now these opinions had been public for several days already but not reported.  But once they got published on blogs, the media within hours had stories about them.

So it has been a battle well worth waging, and while today’s third reading marks the end of that battle as a loss for those against the Electoral Finance Bill, there is an old saying about winning a battle and losing the war, and those parties voting for the Electoral Finance Bill may yet discover that.

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