Dom Post on Secret Donations

The Dom Post talks about how the Electoral Finance Bill does not stop anonymous donations:

Had the Labour Party the courage of its convictions, it would not have introduced to Parliament the offensive Electoral Finance Bill in the form it has been enacted, The Dominion Post writes.

It would have done what Prime Minister Helen Clark promised when she undertook to rewrite election campaign law, and ended the secrecy that surrounds some political donations.

Voters want to know who is funding political parties so they can assess for themselves whether the donors are attempting to buy policies that suit their interests. They do not want any more of their taxes going into politicians’ pockets than finds its way there now. But the Electoral Finance Act will not tell them the former – anonymous funding will continue, wrong though it is.

The Act does put some limits on anonymous funding, but one could for example still give $250,000 a year anonymously through a loophole, and even without the loopholes a donor can give $66,000 over an electoral cycle and not have their identity disclosed.

And of course the original bill had absolutely no restrictions at all.  Labour were shamed into doign something, but even then it is a messy compromise that will do little.

Mr Brown, like his counterpart in the Antipodes, prefers state funding for political parties. There, like here, it is an idea that needs stout resistance. If political parties want to be able to say they have popular support, they must earn it in the bearpit of everyday debate by proposing and defending policies they believe in. They need also to be able to withstand assault on their stance from without the political elite. Had New Zealand had state funding of political parties, the Maori Party, for example, would have been hard pressed to have broken into the magic circle.

Indeed, and it is important parties are reliant on their supporters.  National got hurt badly in 1991 when its policies led to many members quitting.  A governing party shouldn’t be immunised from the impact of its decisions.  Under state funding you’ll get money based on your vote last election, not based on what you have done since then.

Plus as Bryce Edwards often points out, we already have some de facto state funding for the parliamentary parties.

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