The NZ Herald reports:
The Green Party has used $75,000 of taxpayer money to pay signature-collectors for a referendum opposing asset sales.
The party has used its Leader’s Office fund to hire the equivalent of eight fulltime staff members in an attempt to force a citizens-initiated referendum before the Government begins to sell state-owned power companies.
The payments were permitted under parliamentary rules, but it was believed to be the first time the fund has been used to gather support for a party policy.
This is not a citizen-initiated referendum. This is a taxpayer-funded Green and Labour referendum.
Electoral law expert Graeme Edgeler said that while the Greens’ strategy was allowed, he did not feel it was appropriate.
“The reason that we give parliamentary parties money is so that they can keep us informed of what they’re doing so that they can effectively do their jobs in Parliament.
“Using the money as a direct funding of people to go out and get signatures is a step more than any other party has done to date, and that might be a little concerning if it is seen to be appropriate.”
When political parties’ spending was reviewed in 2010, Mr Edgeler asked for use of Leader’s Office money on gaining support for a referendum to be banned.
“If you’re not allowed to tell people to vote a certain way in a citizens-initiated referendum, why can you spend money telling them to sign their name on a petition to get a referendum? It seems an odd distinction.”
The Greens are guilty of massive hypocrisy on this issue. They demanded that people using their own money be restricted to how much they can spend on a referendum – yet use their taxpayer funding to buy signatures for a referendum.