Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Meet the New Bob

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  • Russell Brown,

    The bill actually extends the definition of publishing to include using a meagphone on a protest march. And this is not an accident - it is clear is is deliberate. If you shout "Down with National" into a megaphone you need to also shout your name and home address.

    My understanding was that transmission by loudspeakers etc was previously already covered in the definition of broadcasting, but now that that definition has been synchronised with the one in the Broadcasting Act, it is covered elsewhere in the wording.

    But even if you're right, I can't see how I'd spend the $1000 required for a statutory declaration by shouting into a megaphone, let alone the $120,000 third-party spending limit.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    The HRC's view, according to the report:

    We acknowledge the assistance of the Human Rights Commission.
    After hearings of evidence on this bill we requested that the Human
    Rights Commission consider our proceedings, speak with our advisers,
    and comment on our recommended amendments. We note that
    the Commission strongly supported a number of recommended
    changes relating to third party involvement and increased expenditure
    limits. The Commission stated that it believed the changes
    enhanced freedom of expression and upheld the right to participate
    in electoral processes.

    Sounds like in the end they were pretty happy with it as well.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    And OTOH, statement from the HRC here. Still pretty happy, but also unhappy with the regulated period, and utterly unconcerned with the normal Parliamentary process.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Okay, some facts.

    Is the bill worse than when it was introduced? No.

    It used to cover just about everything political, not it only covers stuff related to the election. This is a great improvement.

    It didn't used to have an exemption for the websites of newsmedia - only the newspaper itself. It notw does (though slightly better clarity around editorials etc. would be nice).

    It used to allow money funneled through secret trusts. Now it doesn't. Also good.

    But DPF is right, it didn't used to cover oral speech [p.s. DPF: the word you're looking for is "oral" - with speech/mouth, not "verbal" - with words]. It now does. It's stupid, but as he points out, the Select Committee's commentary makes clear that it now intends megaphones to be covered. It pretty much makes meet the candidate evenings completely illegal.

    And it also still exempts blogs, but not message boards or YouTube. The lack of exemption isn't quite as bad because it now only covers electoral speech, not political speech, but I really don't think telling people that they should post their home addresses to the whole Internet is sensible.

    I might get a you all a little more detail later - they fixed a lot, but still not quite everything.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    I can't see how I'd spend the $1000 required for a statutory declaration by shouting into a megaphone

    Oh, and they got rid of the statutory declarations bit - the most important change they could make.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    I can't see how I'd spend the $1000 required for a statutory declaration by shouting into a megaphone

    Can you potentially see that you might be at a protest chanting something anti-[some party] slogan, and either not wanting to (or forgetting) to chant your address?

    Can you imagine that you might want to sing "Way Better" without obatining the Labour Party's written permission?

    The Bill is a massive improvement over what went in, but this really does mar it.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • DPF,

    Russell - you still don't get it. Even if the megaphone costs $1 or was borrowed it now counts as an election advertisement if you chant into it "Down with National".

    In a protest march against National, every placard has to have a name and address on it. If you speak into the megaphone (even to lead a chant) you need to give your name and home address.

    But hey if that doesn't bother you, I don't know what will.

    I just hope Public Address qualifies as a non commercial blog because if not goodbye to anonymous comments.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 78 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Oh, and they got rid of the statutory declarations bit - the most important change they could make.

    Yes, a damn good move, which along with the change to the definition of election advertising, cuts the ground underneath those arguing against it. The bill restricts freedom of spech? Only if you're trying to buy an election - and in that case, I think its a restriction we're all better off with.

    Remember, the right to participate in free and fair elections is also a human right.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    Yes, a damn good move, which along with the change to the definition of election advertising, cuts the ground underneath those arguing against it.

    It may do but at the same time it justifies those doing the arguing. Presumably those crtical of the bill were under no obligation to keep quite and just hope things might improve.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    It pretty much makes meet the candidate evenings completely illegal.

    How? Because the candidates are not allowed to remain anonymous?

    Seriously, I am confused by these suggestions and am interested in the mechanics of how these things are no longer allowed.

    Even the megaphone example - if the march organisers give their details once in a public forum would the march stopped?

    Not saying the world is perfect just looking to find the hammer blow to democracy promised by The Herald and others.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Finn Higgins,

    For a minute here I thought I was back in the terrorism thread but everybody had swapped sides...

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 209 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    It may do but at the same time it justifies those doing the arguing. Presumably those crtical of the bill were under no obligation to keep quite and just hope things might improve.

    Of course not - it improved because people spoke up and submitted to select committee, identified the flaws and made constructive comments on how to fix them.

    Having read a large number of the submissions, what's glaring is that the vast majority of those who opposed the bill utterly failed to do the latter. The suggestions on fixing the bill came from groups like the Coalition for Open Government, and various other NGOs, not the rejectionist right.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • DPF,

    Actually I made around 20 pages of suggested improvements to the select committee. Some taken up, some not. I really didn't expect them to make changes such as the megaphone clause to make it worse - I mean erally what was the need?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 78 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Actually I made around 20 pages of suggested improvements to the select committee.

    I know. But yours was not a typical submission.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Ha ha ha! I used to work for a company who had the Employment Court rule that bad-arse swearing was acceptable in that workplace and so employees couldn't be disciplined for it.

    Is there a list of such workplaces and do they have a certificate you can hang on the wall? <i>"This is a blunt-language friendly workforce and if you don't like it, fuck off!"</i>

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    The most important part of this bill to my mind is the part that extends the spending restriction to start from January 1st 2008. The impact of this on the planned activities of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, Family First and the tax cut now lobby can only be imagined, and it effectively eliminates a repetition of the 2005 kiwi/iwi dogwhistle billboard campaign. Personally, I don't see what is wrong with election year being fought between registered political parties who have candidates up for election and policies for voters to look at and mull over. the SST and FF people can spend however much they like in the other two years of the election cycle to win over public opinion.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2213 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Can someone please explain these publishing rules and how they differ from previous?
    Anything you "publish" (as defined) cannot be anonymous? The various $$ amount limits have nothing to do with it?

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    This is a plan so cunning you could pin a tail on it and call it a weasel.
    What are they going to do about the spend on Social Marketing creeping into the Election Campaign message (as they did for advertising WFF)?
    I bet the bullhorn and banner thing has something to do with hijacking the 6.00 o'clock TV news.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    In a protest march against National, every placard has to have a name and address on it. If you speak into the megaphone (even to lead a chant) you need to give your name and home address.

    It'd be even better if everyone who is chanting has to give their own name and address. The chant will start to fall down when a hundred people call out their own name and address at the same time.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • insider outsider,

    Robert Fox asked

    "Why are people / organisations affraid of identifying themselves as donors to political parties?"

    Given that we have just had a very public demonstration that you can be forced out of your job because the person you live with works for a political opponent of the ruling party, and can be denied consideration for another job for the same reasons, doesn't that add legitimacy to concerns about revealing personal political beliefs?

    nz • Since May 2007 • 142 posts Report Reply

  • Tim McKenzie,

    Can someone please explain these publishing rules and how they differ from previous?
    Anything you "publish" (as defined) cannot be anonymous? The various $$ amount limits have nothing to do with it?

    Section 53, which is unamended has this paragraph:

    (1) No person may, during a regulated period, publish or cause or permit to be published any election advertisement unless—
    (a) the advertisement contains a statement that sets out the name and address of the promoter of the advertisement; and
    (b) the promoter is entitled to promote the advertisement.

    The next paragraph goes into how much you're allowed to spend before you have to register as a third party, and other ways you can be "entitled to promote the advertisement". So, no; anonymity here has nothing to do with how much you spend, or even if you spend anything at all.

    The chant will start to fall down when a hundred people call out their own name and address at the same time.

    Yes, it would be difficult to keep the rhythm.

    Tim
    <><

    Lower Hutt • Since Apr 2007 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • Tim McKenzie,

    Personally, I don't see what is wrong with election year being fought between registered political parties who have candidates up for election and policies for voters to look at and mull over.

    Freedom of expression isn't meant to be just for the political establishment. It's meant to be for everyone, in order to keep the political establishment honest. The original bill systematically put greater restrictions on third parties than it did on members of the political establishment. I'm honestly impressed by how much it has improved, but it's still not good.

    If we're going to accept restrictions on our freedom of expression, there had better be a really good reason. Has anyone actually got any evidence that spending money on advertising is able to make significant numbers of people vote for arbitrarily insane parties or candidates?

    DPF's submission analysed the $/vote for advertising in previous New Zealand elections, and found wildly varying figures. His statistical analysis wouldn't exactly get published in a peer-reviewed academic journal, but surely it was enough to put the burden of proof where it should have been all along---with the people who want to restrict freedom of expression.

    Tim
    <><

    Lower Hutt • Since Apr 2007 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Right, thanks Tim. When read in conjunction with the definition of election advertising, it's rather interesting...
    Would be interested to see how that differs from current. For example there are plenty of examples of name/address for "official" type publications - is this simply looking to achieve third-party consistency with that of political parties, an overarching theme of the bill?

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    On the blog posting issue I see the following comment from another site (The Standard)

    Section 5 (2) says “The following are not election advertisements: …. 5 (2) (g) “The publication by an individual, on a non-commercial basis, on the Internet of his or her personal political views (being the kind of publication commonly known as a blog).

    This is specifically allowing what DPF has told us is not allowed.

    I read this a saying if an anonymous poster wants to post a comment here or on Kiwiblog, they can. So I am not sure where DPF gets the "you can kiss your anon posters goodbye" position from. As far as I am aware people who post comments here or on Kiwiblog are doing so on a non-commercial basis. Surely not even the EBs pay D4J for his comments :-)

    Then again IANAL nor have I read the bill but it does seem hard to justify some of the claims that are out there right now.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Full pdf is here if you want - SC report prefacing the bill with suggested amendments.

    Is some tough reading but...

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

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