Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Rethinking the EFA

167 Responses

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  • JackElder,

    We're in Ohariu (renamed at this election, natch). We got pamphlets from Labour, Nats, Greens, and ACT. The ACT one included a prepaid reply envelope. So based on past elections, the EFA didn't particularly affect the amount of political cruft coming through my mailbox.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Linda Clark declared that she had only had one pamphlet in her letterbox in Ohariu-Belmont, and this was surely the fault of the EFA

    In that case, leave the Act exactly how it is k thnx...

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1720 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    So what was the upshot? I got the usual party material in the post, but there were no mysterious leaflets muttering dark warnings about the Green Party or immigrants. There were fewer third-party newspaper advertisements. And there may have been a chilling of advocacy from people or groups uncertain about the application of the law.

    On the ground for the week just prior to this election, I struggled to see really significant differences from the 2002 election (the last for which I was in the country). Two that might be positive however, are the much stronger focus on parties "authorising" stuff which, while certainly onerous, probably meant a tighter focus and tighter budgets.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2191 posts Report Reply

  • Grassed Up,

    Three points on the Herald's suggestions:

    (1) How does the Law Commission differ from "publicly funded academics"? It gets its money from the public, and it consists of ex-University professors and government bureaucrats. Perhaps the real difference is that the Herald thinks Geoffrey Palmer's alleged love of free-speech will lead to the outcome it wants?

    (2) Look at section 5 of the NZ Bill of Rights. It permits reasonable limits that are justified in a free and democratic society. Then look at Canada and how comprehensively it regulates election funding (Canada is the model on which the NZ Bill of Rights is based). So the section 14 guarantee of free speech, which looks absolute and damning of the EFA, actually is no such thing.

    (3) The citizens' forum main sin seems to be that it is a Green Party idea. Yet the Herald advocates for "public consultation" on whatever should replace the EFA. So there should be a public voice heard on the issue, but that voice shouldn't be (a) too loud, or (b) in a form thought of by anyone except the Herald itself?

    Since Nov 2008 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    So there should be a public voice heard on the issue, but that voice shouldn't be (a) too loud, or (b) in a form thought of by anyone except the Herald itself?

    I think you've grasped the Herald's tone quite well.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • Brian Murphy,

    Well there were certainly ads in the Listener asking us to consider various issues when we voted, and it was also good to see that they were placed by Michael Horton, so at least we saw who is trying to influence us with their money.

    I vaguely recall that I saw a few 3rd party ads in the Herald too, also with attribution to who had paid for them.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    A few modest proposals? Here goes:

    1) After reading this, I think the disclosure deadline should be reduced to hours (preferably 24, no more than 48) from ten days.

    2) Make the WriteMark Plain English Awards Trust part of that "nucleus" the Herald was chuntering on about. Seriously. Russell was erring on the side of generosity when he said "the drafting of the EFA was an embarrassment". But I'm cynical enough to say that it's no accident that the EFA -- and other rules that allow politicians to campaign with public money -- contains what I call "strategically ambiguous" language you could drive a supertanker through. Which is fine for the politicians; bugger for the courts and electoral agencies who get lumbered with the responsibility for trying to make sense of it all -- and the unfair attacks when the outcomes aren't politically convenient.

    3) And whatever happens, please dump requiring agents to put their residential addresses on material and hoardings. Can't see what public service or genuine disclosure is served there.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    3) And whatever happens, please dump requiring agents to put their residential addresses on material and hoardings. Can't see what public service or genuine disclosure is served there.

    I agree. An individual should be contactable, and their authenticity verifiable, but requiring their home address is unecessary.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2191 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Oh, and how about giving the Electoral Commission some real teeth. Don't really see the point of referring anything to Police, when their attitude towards electoral law seems to be "know nothing, care even less." It was convenient for both National and Labour three years back, but I'm not so sure that the public good was really served.

    And finally, let's greatly expand the statute of limitations for prosecutions from six months -- if not do away with it altogether. I think we've seen ample evidence how you can stonewall and obfuscate for six months quite easily. Six years might be a wee bit more difficult.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

  • Tamsin6,

    In London I received one postcard from the Greens obviously aimed at expat voters, in plenty of time for the election. And a curious little missive from New Zealand First, that arrived after the election, so not all that helpful then. It was addressed to Mr John Key, c/o me in London, and is entitled 'The incovenient truth about Winston Peters'. Very very strange and odd thing to receive. It mentions a website set up specially for me. Hmmm.

    London • Since Dec 2007 • 123 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I like the idea of shorter disclosure deadlines - hell they could set up a web page, campaigns could type in the information whenever they cash a cheque, it would be published in seconds

    After all the whole point is that there should be no secrets

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2031 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Tamsin - I got that same weird letter - I swear John Key wasn't hiding in my cellar - I think they'd outsourced writing that one to some nigerian spammer

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2031 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    FWIW I got the idea the chilling effect the electoral commission referred to wasn't due to what the law said, but to people not being sure what the law said. A situation the whole debate (on both sides, really) didn't discourage.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1094 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    And finally, let's greatly expand the statute of limitations for prosecutions from six months -- if not do away with it altogether. I think we've seen ample evidence how you can stonewall and obfuscate for six months quite easily.

    The EFA did expand the time for commencing a prosecution. The time limit is now 3 years.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2988 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    And finally, let's greatly expand the statute of limitations for prosecutions from six months -- if not do away with it altogether.

    I don't know about doing away with it entirely, but increasing it to "until the completion of the parliamentary term following discovery of the breach" would be pretty effective. That's not quite open-ended, but ensures that there's at least three years (assuming no early elections) to investigate. And a governing party can't fudge things by calling an early election, because it's the term after the discovery.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3889 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    Since the Herald knows what must be done, why does it insist on a commission to discover what must be done?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    But it would seem prudent, now that a real-world experiment has been conducted, to identify actual harms -- and sort teething troubles from fundamental flaws -- rather than continue to tub-thump on the basis of philosophy.

    Are you new here or something? Tub thumping is wot we do, dammit!

    3) And whatever happens, please dump requiring agents to put their residential addresses on material and hoardings. Can't see what public service or genuine disclosure is served there.

    That's a good suggestion. I'm not involved with any political parties, but having my home address on everything would deter me from taking up that job. Too many crazies, and I have kids (and two big dogs).

    Since Nov 2006 • 6148 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    __On the Media7 election special, Linda Clark declared that she had only had one pamphlet in her letterbox in Ohariu-Belmont__

    We're in Ohariu (renamed at this election, natch).

    I was surprised to hear someone as politically savvy as Linda Clark get the name of her electorate wrong. (Perhaps she was too busy watching her letterbox for political leaflets!)

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1843 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Diack,

    "...which, amusingly, only came before the Electoral Commission because it was reported by one of Rodney's own looser units, the excitable Andrew Moore"

    Oh dear this proves Russell doesn't understand how this law operates.

    The Electoral Commission does not provide hypothetical opinions on how it will interpret the law. They will however consider and determine a complaint. This provides guidance on how they interpret the law.

    On Mr Hide's jacket (apart from making the law look ridiculous) ACT needs to know how the Electoral Commission will view it for the purposes of its electoral returns in Epsom and for the Party. The only way to get this is to make the issue 'live' before the Electoral Commission by way of a complaint.

    With any new law that replaces the EFA complaints for the purposes of the clarifying the law will be even more common.


    Regarding any role for the Law Commission on the repeal and replacement of the EFA, they declined to be involved with the EFB when asked by Labour and of course the notorious Val Sim is a Law Commissioner. Rules them out probably.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2008 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Bevan Shortridge,

    Paul Campbell wrote

    Tamsin - I got that same weird letter - I swear John Key wasn't hiding in my cellar - I think they'd outsourced writing that one to some nigerian spammer

    From Friday 7 November's NZ Herald:
    Peters' direct mail angers hundreds

    Hopefully the link works.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 113 posts Report Reply

  • Bevan Shortridge,

    That the link to the Herald article works I mean.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 113 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    I agree. An individual should be contactable, and their authenticity verifiable, but requiring their home address is unecessary.

    After all, what does it really accomplish, apart from letting the crazies know where you live? And who the hell contacts people via their physical address these days anyway?

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2092 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Oh dear this proves Russell doesn't understand how this law operates.

    Oh dear yourself, Chris.

    Why don't you RTFA before getting your snoot on?

    It has been revealed the complainant is 21-year-old Andy Moore, a University of Canterbury commerce student and "strong Act supporter".

    The Electoral Commission wrote to Mr Hide on Monday, saying that under the act the jacket might be an "election advertisement" and therefore required an authorising statement.

    Mr Hide gave the letter to the Herald, which did not carry the complainant's details.

    Mr Hide today said he was embarrassed and pissed off at Mr Moore.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    The EFA didn't stop Both Eyes Open from running a vigorous third party campaign up and down the country. For just over $3k.

    Basically, what the Nats will try and do is to return to unlimited, unattributed spending by the wealthy. I suspect they'll probably repeal the EFA, have a Royal Commission on what to replace it with, and kick the results of that into the long grass if they don't fit.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4361 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Bevan - thanks for the link - I too was offended - but more because that having just turned 50 I had suddenly being included in NZFirst prime demographic - way to get people to vote for you, tell them they're "old"

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2031 posts Report Reply

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