The chilling effect of the EFA

Steve Pierson at The Standard blogs on the ads run by the Northern Employers and Manufacturers Association against a proposed law which stops employers from operating a total remuneration package that includes the cost of KiwiSaver.

What’s more, this whole embarrassing exercise may be in breach of the Finance Act. I’ve just had a tip-off from a reader who has laid a complaint with the Electoral Commission this afternoon.

It turns out the EMA has failed to register as a third party, which means it has an election spending limit of $12,000. Today’s ad was a half page full colour in the Herald, putting it at around $15,000 according to a recent rate card and pushing the EMA well over their legal spending limit. The ad also entangles the New Zealand Herald, which is in breach for publishing it.

Now think about this. The is passing a law which wll affect every business in New Zealand. The Northern EMA represents thousands of those businesses.

The Finance Act means it may be unable to run even a couple of ads against this law change, without breaching the Electoral Finance Act or being forced to register as a third party.

The Finance Act is not just about elections. It is about silencing dissent in election year. If the announces law changes in election year, then people should be able to lobby and advertise against them. Why should the EMA Northern be reduced to spending less than $1 per business it represents?

It is debatable of course of the advertisements would be ruled election ads. But the EMA Northern is now the risk of being prosecuted if they do turn out to be.

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