The Electoral Commission advised the Labour Party late yesterday that it believes the party breached the recently-amended Electoral Act over the party’s Stop Asset Sales Flyer, says Labour spokesperson Grant Robertson.
This is no surprise. It was an obvious election advertisement. It is important to realise that it would also have been deemed an election advertisement under the Electoral Finance Act and the pre-EFA Electoral Act.
Grant Robertson says there is no suggestion Labour has breached the use of Parliamentary resources or taxpayer funding, but the Commission is concerned that the words “authorised by” were not included in an explicit promoter statement.
A red herring. The Electoral Commission is concerned with the Electoral Act, not parliamentary funding. It is correct that up until 26 August the ad can be funded out of Labour’s parliamentary budget, but that is not the issue.
“Labour had taken the view that the flyer was not an election advertisement under the Act, in part because it had received prior authorization from the Parliamentary Service for its publication”, Grant Robertson said.
I’m sorry but this is just bullshit, and it is the same bullshit Labour have pushed since 2005. In 2005 Labour justified their over-spending by claiming they thought the law meant if it was taxpayer funded it was not an election advertisement. They were wrong then, and they were wrong now. But this is not a mistake, made in ignorance. They have been told dozens of times this is not the law. They had MPs sit on the select committee that considered the law. The Electoral Commission has stated in big bold letters multiple times that something may be an election advertisement even if taxpayer funded.
So this is not an accidental breach of the law. This is a continuation of six years of arrogance that they are above the law. Look the breach is a minor one, but the principle is an important one.
The new law even allows a party to get an opinion from the Electoral Commission on whether a particular advertisement is an election advertisement and needs authorisation. This is a free service. Labour chose not to get an opinion and chose to break the law.
This is why the Police should finally do something they have never ever done before – and prosecute Labour for one of the electoral law breaches. It is a minor breach and it should be a fine only, but how on earth can you expect others to obey the law when Labour consistently get away with breaking it.