Edwards on MPs and Mt Albert

Bryce Edwards has an excellent post highlighting the huge advantage parliamentary parties have – specifically with the Mt Albert by-election:

Therefore it has to be asked, are all the non-Auckland MPs that are currently flooding into the Mt Albert electorate, doing so via taxpayer funding? Is the Green candidate, and Wellington-based MP, Russel Norman really paying his own way to Auckland and finding his own accommodation during his campaigning?

Good questions.

In Mt Albert there are currently a large number of MPs flooding into the electorate to campaign on behalf of their respective candidates. So far, many of these have been non-Auckland MPs, and therefore likely to be using Parliamentary Service funds to be there.

The one particular non-Auckland MP that appears to have been there the most has been Wellington-based MP Russel Norman – in fact Norman is the only non-Auckland MP running in the electorate. While there is nothing particularly wrong with carpetbagging per se – a ‘term is sometimes used derisively to refer to a politician who runs for public office in an area in which he or she is not originally from and/or has only lived for a very short time’ – most people would in fact have a problem with such carpetbagging being funded by taxpayers. It is therefore Norman that should be the most upfront about who’s paying his way.

There’s another reason that Russel Norman should be called to account for his election spending. More than any other politician – other than perhaps Winston Peters – Norman has been the most populist campaigner on issues of ‘money in politics’. He probably pushed harder than any other for the Electoral Finance Act – even though it proved to be a spectacular ‘own goal’ – and has continued to be the most sanctimonious MP (since Peters) about transparency. He’s probably made more allegations against other MPs and parties than anyone (again, except Winston Peters).

Thus this stone-thrower needs to show that he doesn’t also live in a glass house. Therefore Norman should declare whether he has used any taxpayer funds on his campaign, including travel expenses and accommodation claims for his many, many trips to Mt Albert since Helen Clark announced her departure from Parliament. Anything less than this would make his various campaigns against ‘corruption’ seem rather hollow.

Will the Greens practice what they preach?

Likewise, the other parliamentary parties need to be more upfront about their use of backdoor state funding and MP expenses in their campaigns. Labour needs to show that it has learnt its lessons over the EFA and its pledge card. What about Trevor Mallard, who was recently blogging about his experience on the campaign trail? There seem to be a lot of non-Auckland MPs in Mt Albert recently. Unless they are paying their own way, or legitimately and genuinely in Auckland on other business, their use of tax-payer funding to campaign could be classified as ‘corrupt’. And National and the other parties should also declare how they are paying to send MPs into the electorate to campaign.

I recommend people read the full post – it has mounds of historical infoformation also.

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