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Speaker: From Corruption Guard our State

16 Responses

  • Kyle Matthews,

    A good post Graham. I was impressed enough to make a 2 minute submission, very harmless.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6162 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I resisted the temptation to go back and make sure I spelt your name tie right way, and clearly made the wrong decisions. My bad.

    Add me to the list of people wondering when the long rumoured edit feature will be here.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6162 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    First, Graeme, thanks to you and your colleagues at COG for the sterling work - don't agree with all of your conclusions, but you're adding value to the debate. It's certainly going to clarify and focus some aspects of my submission.

    The really sad thing about this bill is that it was an opportunity to put forward a comprehensive and thoughtful package of reforms that enjoyed broad support across the political spectrum, both inside and outside Parliament.

    Instead, and I don't think it's OTT or overly cynical to say this, it was jacked by people who think they nearly had the last election 'stolen' from them and it's time to settle some scores.

    Feh... I know it's never going to happen, but I'd like this bill to be withdrawn and see Parliament actually take the integrity of our elections seriously.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11900 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    I tripped over this:

    2. The Campaign by Members of the Exclusive Brethren Church

    For the most part, this was perfectly legal

    vs this

    4. Labour's Breach of the Election Spending Cap

    These glib "certainties" undermine your case.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1615 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Don - as I understand it, two of the EB's pamphlets were tainted with some sort of illegality - both to do with improper authorisation statements (one which carried an address which was neither the residential or business address of the person authorising it, and one which the person responsible was also required to obtain permission from National - because it promoted them implicitly - but did not).

    The other pamphlets were lawful, the massive budget was lawful, the attack on the Greens was lawful, the absence of disclosure was lawful, etc. These - the major problems people identify with the campaign of the EB businessmen - were not illegal, so I think it fair to say that "for the most part" the campaign was lawful.

    As for Labour - whilst the use of the money (i.e. the subject of the Auditor-General's report) is debatable, there is basically nothing that can be said to argue that the pledge card is not attributable as an election expense. The advice on this from the Chief Electoral Officer to Labour approximately 10 (?) days before the election was unequivocal and is unassailable. You may recall that Labour agreed with the CEO at that time that it was attributable, and promised to include it in their return. Including this cost pushes Labour over their $2.38m limit.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2999 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    I haven't had an opportunity to review the bill, but I have heard some of the complaints doing the rounds. If HC is to be believed, I might wait to see what emerges from the select committee's review.

    I suppose I'm (relatively) more familiar with the campaign finance reform debate in the US context, with its split between Democrats and Republicans, and arguments from free political speech meeting the need to control the impact of monied interests on the political process. As I understand it, regulating third party political communications has proved to be one of the more difficult problems there.

    I haven't read much comment on the bill yet (maybe I'm just not looking in the right places) so thanks for writing this.

    Since Nov 2006 • 573 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Graeme - now you are disseminating. Of course attacking the Greens is not illegal. Just as attacking any party is not illegal.

    It was the method of attack.

    Just to refresh your tainted memory.

    Re-writing history does your cause no favours, that's all I am saying.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1615 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Hooton,

    Don/Graeme - I have studied this matter in some detail and may be able to assist in bridging the gap between you.

    1. On the matter concerning the campaign by seven businessmen who were members of the Exclusive Brethren, the Chief Electoral Officer was sufficiently concerned to refer the matter to the Police, which is what the Frog Blog discussion that Don links to was all about.

    The police then investigated these matters. (Of course, we on the right have profound concerns about the quality of that investigation and the decisions that followed, but that is another matter I will address below.)

    On 20 March 2006, Ian Kain, Senior Sergent, National Bureau of Investigative Support wrote back to the Chief Electoral Officer and reported, with respect to all the matters concerning the Exclusive Brethren and concluded:

    "Police have not identified any offences in relation to these complaints and will not be taking these matters further."

    As a result, under the rule that you're innocent until proven guilty, Graeme was being sympathetic to critics of the Brethren when he said "for the most part, this was perfectly legal". According to the Police, it was all perfectly legal.

    Interestingly, this is in contrast to the conclusion the Police reached with respect to Heather Simpson, the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff, and the pledge card issue where, in the same letter to the Chief Electoral Officer, Senior Sergent Kain wrote:

    "As a result of our inquiries Police consider that a prima facie case against Heather Simpson couild be established."

    According to an internal police memo by Bill Peoples, Acting National Manager, National Bureau of Investigative Support, dated 27 February 2006, the Police had also been advised by the Crown Law Office that "such a charge would be likely to result in a conviction".

    However, the Police decided not to prosecute.

    The suspicion in right wing circles, which some would say is a little paranoid, is that the Police may well have thought there was something illegal about the Brethren campaign but having decided not to prosecute Ms Simpson, they decided it was best not to pursue charges against anyone.

    As a result, there has never been a court judgement on this matter or the Simpson matter, or any other matter with respect to the 2005 election - so technically speaking everything that went on was fully "legal", including the matters that have been declared legal by the retrospective pledge card legislation.

    2. On the second matter, what Graeme calls "Labour's Breach of the Election Spending Cap", there has also not been any legal judgement - but Graeme does not claim it was illegal, simply that there was a breach of the cap.

    This is supported by Labour's own return to the Electoral Commission which can be found at http://www.elections.org.nz/parties/party-expenses-2005.html This shows that Labour, by its own declaration, spent 117.59% of the legal cap.

    The National Party was second, spending 95.00% of the cap, and would still have been just under if its (very dodgy) GST "error" was also incluced.

    It would, of course, been well over the limit if the Exclusive Brethren spending was also included in National's total - which some say it should have been - but this is not supported by the Police's finding with respect to the EB's campaign. The Police specifically said: "Police are of a view that there is insufficient similarity or association between this material and NZ National Party material upon which to base a charge." (Labour supporters could be forgiven for having as little confidence in that "finding" as National supporters have in the "finding" that Ms Simpson should not have been charged.)

    * * *

    All this is in a way ancient history, but there is still a lot of anger on both sides and - with Labour not prepared to engage with opposition parties in good faith on reforming the Electoral Act, or to admit that its own proposals are seriously flawed at a philosophical not just a technical level - there is going to be a very, very nasty political debate over the next few months about these matters.

    It would do us well if it was more sophisticated than the two sides yelling "Exclusive Brethren" and "pledge card" across the house (and the blogs).

    I promise never to post such a long comment here again.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2007 • 47 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    All this is in a way ancient history, but there is still a lot of anger on both sides

    Sure, Matthew, and I think it's also fair to poiint out that there are people "on both sides" who are angry that both National and Labour didn't have the book thrown at them with great force. Some of us actually think the rule of law - and the integrity of our elections - is a wee bit more important than the short-term partisan interests of 'our side'

    I don't think you've got to get into Oliver Stone territory to be bewildered - and angered - that the Police's attitude to breeches of campaign spending law was 'know nothing, care even less' - which makes you wonder why the Electoral Commission or Chief Electoral Officer should bother even referring future breeches to the Police.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11900 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I promise never to post such a long comment here again.

    Happy to have it.

    BTW, Nielsen NetRatings consistently places Public Address the #1 website in the country for time spent on each page ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18807 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Nice round up Matthew, thanks. Do you have a link to the source for this quote?:

    "Police have not identified any offences in relation to these complaints and will not be taking these matters further."

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1615 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    With Craig on this, BTW. Integrity of the system is what counts.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1615 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson,

    Great explanation Matthew. Thanks a lot for taking the time to share it with us.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 410 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Hooton,

    Don

    The quote is on page two of the formal letter from the Police (Ian Kain) to the Chief Electoral Officer (David Henry) dated 20 March 2006 reporting on the result of their "investigation". It has been released under the Official Information Act widely, including to me, and I have it in front of me now, but it does not appear to have been put on the internet.

    A similar (but slightly different) statement was made by the police on 17 March 2006:

    "A number of complaints were referred by the Chief Electoral Officer relating to the Exclusive Brethren:

    "� On the issue relating to distribution of leaflets on polling day, inquiries by Police revealed that the Brethren took considerable measures to ensure no material was distributed on polling day, however, it appears that despite those efforts a very small amount of material was distributed. There was insufficient evidence to take the matter any further.

    "� There was a concern that one of the Brethren leaflets had a false address on it. In the overall circumstances of this complaint no further action was required.

    "� The primary complaint was that leaflets and newspaper articles were distributed in breach of s221 of the Electoral Act. A review of the material by Police indicated that there was insufficient similarity or association between the material and the New Zealand National Party on which to base a charge."

    That statement can be found at http://www.police.govt.nz/news/release/2345.html

    As Craig says - and I agree with his comments - it is bewildering that the police found that everyone was apparently acting entirely lawfully or that a letter telling them off would be enough to remedy the wrongdoing. But the statement is certainly worth reading, as there is something in it to outrage everyone.

    Incidentially, had the book been thrown at everyone as Craig suggests, I think that Ms Simpson would have been the most likely to be convicted, at least according to the legal advice from Crown Law that the police received, and their own judgements. That is why those of us on the political right believe that no one was prosecuted - even though that does make it sound as if we have moved into Oliver Stone territory.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2007 • 47 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Thanks Mathew.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Damn that's Matthew.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

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