Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: The New Zealand Election Tax

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  • Keir Leslie,

    The Greens in particular – Graham, Ross I hope, Hughes I have seen in action in Ohariu – are good at the meet-the-candidate events they are invited to as electorate candidates – at asking specifically for the party vote.

    I.e. they are using the candidacy to promote a different thing. Why shouldn’t they have to chip in a bit to help cover the cost of this handy promotional opportunity, to think a little about how much their desire for publicity will cost the public?

    (Of course the Electoral Act doesn’t. But suppose someone decides to run to draw attention to their pet cause, say, breast cancer. But they don’t want to win, you see. Just raise awareness. That seems like exactly the kind of thing a deposit ought discourage.)

    So why not discourage Green candidacies that aren’t going anywhere? Surely if there’s any kind of candidacy we want to discourage, that’s exactly it: one that clutters the issue by involving candidates who have no desire to win, that are purely running as stunts.

    (Really, I think we should just get rid of the 5% rule. You get your deposit back a week after the election no matter how many votes you get. Still forces people to be a bit committed, cause it’s money, but there’s no fear that you won’t get it back (and any bank under the sun will lend you the money for the duration.) I don't understand why we ought be worried about total fringers; they can already get on the ballot paper quite easily.)

    Since Jul 2008 • 1389 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    You get your deposit back a week after the election no matter how many votes you get. Still forces people to be a bit committed

    Well there's a new idea. Graeme might consider including that in his submission to the (possible) review of MMP.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Keir - a very practical question (since electoral law seems very grounded in practicalities): how does the EC determine when a party's candidate is a serious one, with a serious attempt to take the seat?

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2136 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Hmm? They don't have to. The defence of the present deposit system is that the candidate has to decide whether or not they reckon they can get 5%. If they don't get 5%, they lose the deposit. Now, this is very bad, in my opinion, when it impacts on fringe candidates, because many of them are seriously contesting the election in a bid to win, and this means that people are unable to use the electorate contest for the purpose for which it primarily exists.

    It isn't that bad, in my opinion, when it hurts minor parties who run candidates solely to get out the party vote, because I do not think that that is the purpose of the an electorate contest.

    Now, I don't think the Electoral Commission should try and determine which candidates are serious at all. I think that, however, inasmuch as that is the purpose of the deposit, it is working when it puts pressure on the Greens not to run pointless candidates, when it makes Act think twice about running in seats they don't want to win.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1389 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I don't see electorate candidates in unwinnable seats as being "pointless". I prefer to cast my vote (at party and electorate level) for a party that I actually support (and its candidate). MMP lets me do that (in most electorates).

    If my chosen party didn't run a candidate because of cost, then I would lose that option. Why should Green supporters in safe Tory seats (or ACT supporters in safe Labour ones) be forced to vote for a party they don't agree with (or not vote at electorate level).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4484 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston, in reply to BenWilson,

    I often wonder if he does that sort of thing deliberately, and what’s on the secret tapes is him talking with a posh school accent and no noticeable lisp

    Interesting idea Ben, I like it. His lip movement doesn't seem to be different though , still looks like his vowels are strangling his consonants.

    I wonder how an experienced lip reader would go with Key - my guess is his lips would be unintelligible.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 507 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Richard Aston,

    I wonder how an experienced lip reader would go with Key - my guess is his lips would be unintelligible.

    I pity any lip reader in NZ generally.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8675 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to BenWilson,

    Lisp Service...

    I pity any lip reader in NZ generally.

    Jobs for lisp readers now available!
    Queue at your nearest WINZ office...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 5092 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    I can read LISP but I can't write it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8675 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to BenWilson,

    I can read LISP but I can’t write it.

    That LISP, of the fully parenthesized syntax. If I recall correctly, it's an acronym derived from Lost In Stupid Parentheses.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3597 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    So why not discourage Green candidacies that aren’t going anywhere?

    Apart from the dozen or so of them that look likely to be in the next parliament you mean?

    We have a Mixed Member system. Which means that people will stand in electorates to raise their profile and the profile of their party. And we should have the right to question them at electorate meetings and other fora to see if they're going to be good List MPs.

    Otherwise we're going to have Labour standing vs National in most electorates, and Labour standing vs Maori party in most of the Maori electorates. Two candidates isn't very good democracy.

    I'd almost be in favour of requiring anyone that appears on a party list to stand an electorate (almost, but not quite).

    Since Nov 2006 • 6221 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    I'd almost be in favour of requiring anyone that appears on a party list to stand an electorate (almost, but not quite).

    IIRC, Georgina te Heuheu was a list-only candidate in five election 1996 - 2008 and never contested an electorate. (Now retiring.)

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Homer, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    Why 5% then? If it's to discourage candidates who aren't seriously contesting the electorate, why not 30%? 40%? You can't tell me that Jeremy Greenbrook-Held seriously intends to win Helensville; he's running solely as a stunt to drive publicity for his party. Why not discourage Labour candidacies that aren't going anywhere? Or similarly in a safe Labour seat.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 55 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Michael Homer,

    Why 5% then? If it’s to discourage candidates who aren’t seriously contesting the electorate, why not 30%? 40%?

    The winner quite frequently doesn't get 40%!

    Under the Electoral Act 1956, you got your (initially ten pound) deposit back if you got at least one-quarter of the vote of the winning candidate.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3011 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson,

    I personally think that 5% of the winning candidates vote would be fairer than a flat 5%. For example, if 21 candidates run in a seat, and all of them get just under 5%, would all of them lose their deposit ? Including the winning candidate ?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 427 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Apart from the dozen or so of them that look likely to be in the next parliament you mean?

    No, I don't. Those ones have serious list candidacies, but pointless electorate candidacies.

    The argument seems to be that the Greens should be allowed to run pointless, unwinnable candidates, but that fringey-mcfringe weirdo shouldn't. I disagree; I think that fringey-mcfringe is being more honest and more upfront than the Greens, and so shouldn't be punished for his beliefs. I think that is precisely the Greens that ought get caught by this kind of thing.

    I would prefer not to have a deposit scheme like the present one at all, but if we do, this seems to be it working.

    I do think Greenbrook-Held wants to win Helensville; he hasn't a hope, of course, but he is trying to get electorate votes. Many Green candidates actively don't want electorate votes.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1389 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    Brent

    Largest number of candidates in an electorate in 2011 is 12, in Wgtn Central. In 2008, Wgtn Central had 14, again one of the largest if not the largest number.

    And it would be a miracle if votes were evenly distributed as in your suggestion.

    Interestingly, '5% of votes' vs '5% of winner's votes' would seem to not make a lot of difference, taking a quick look at 2008 results.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 443 posts Report Reply

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