Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Finance Campaign

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    Ironically, the response to the Herald's poll on the question "Is New Zealand becoming a less free and democratic country?" -- linked to in a fit of overkill from the editorial and the news stories -- suggested that the public wasn't quite as frenzied as the editors. By late afternoon, about three quarters of the 7000-odd respondents to the poll were saying "No."

    'The public'? Oh, you mean a self-selecting sample in a poll where it's possble to vote multiple times? (I know it's possible because I did it.) While I take your point, as far as it goes, perhaps the one you should be making is that these things are only useful for their entertainment value - and developing carpal tunnel if you're stupid enough to do otherwise - whether or not you find the outcomes ideologically congenial.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    Well, in general, I think this bill is badly flawed (at least as its been presented so far) and either needs massive change, or perhaps even scrapping in order to replace it with something more considered and widely supported for the 2011 election....

    But theres just one little point that the Herald neglects to point out, and I cant help but think it might be at least one of, (if not the major) reason they are making such a song and dance...

    A "spending cap" of any sort, on campaigners of any flavour will tend to act as an "income cap" for people who make hordings, pamphlets, and.... oh, Newspapers! What a coincidence!

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 893 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    Ah, I just see Keith Ng's OnPoint has posted essentially the same comment as mine above...

    Sorry for the repetition. It's an obvious point, but I hadn't seen it written down before...

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 893 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Its hard to know what to make of the Herald's grandiose self importance.

    However, given the frenzy David Farrar has also worked himself into over the issue the only thing I put down the Herald's outburst to is general hope on the part of those who don't like the government that they can generate the same sort of momentum and beat up over the EFB as they managed over the pledge card issue.

    So far though the whole thing seems a bit of a fizzer for them.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And in the interests of balance, I guess I should draw PAS readers' attention to this rather odd counterblast from Colin Espiner.

    Some interesting stuff in there, but I don't think this drive-by was particularly helpful:

    Um, right then. Readers of this Auckland newspaper know not to turn to this organ for balanced, unbiased coverage on this particular topic.

    So, I guess the readers of a certain Christchurch newspaper (which just happens to be owned by a direct competitor of the proprietor of the Herald, FWIW) can expect its political editor to be a little less opinionated in his bloggage, commentary and analysis? Can we also expect The Press and its Fairfax stable mates to stop running editorials and op-ed columnists?

    With all due respect, criticism and dialogue is a good and healthy thing. I just wonder if the Fairfax Group (both here and in Australia) really has the moral high ground when it comes to... well, editorially riding a moral high horse?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Stevens,

    RB, thanks for the measured analysis here.

    Something about this Bill just makes me very uneasy. Yes, something needs to be done to tighten up our election rules, but I don't think the Bill in this form does it. It really does seem like a knee-jerk reaction against the brethren mafia of last time round, rather than a well-considered and thorough re-ordering of our electoral laws.

    I am very uncomfortable with how it's heading so far, but will wait till the final draft.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 230 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    But theres just one little point that the Herald neglects to point out, and I cant help but think it might be at least one of, (if not the major) reason they are making such a song and dance...

    A "spending cap" of any sort, on campaigners of any flavour will tend to act as an "income cap" for people who make hordings, pamphlets, and.... oh, Newspapers! What a coincidence!

    FletcherB: Really? If you're going to run that line, then I guess it's fair to note that the sole daily newspaper in New Zealand's larges tmedia would do very well out of the mooted government department exemption. If this is motivated by financial self-interest, APN really sucks at it.

    And, 'toms' (I assume you are the person who posts on Kiwiblog under that handle), you're another chap who really shouldn't doing the Miss Manners routine. Your constant claims of bad faith on the part of your opponents isn't only tiresome, but it's just the kind of wing-nuttery you love to affect some great disdain for while you indulge in it.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Blech... fricking flu.

    That should read:
    If you're going to run that line, then I guess it's fair to note that the sole daily newspaper in New Zealand's largest media would do very well out of the mooted government department exemption. Would you really be in the least surprised if a large print campaign around Kiwisaver, WFF etc. just happened to roll out just before the election? Not what I saw happen in New South Wales when I was there just ahead of the state elections... and I sure didn't see any reports of any media outlet - including Mr. Espiner's colleagues at the Sydney Morning Herald__ - turning down the income.

    If this campaign is motivated by financial self-interest, APN really sucks at it.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    I guess I've managed to get under your skin at some stage Mr. Ranapia. Oh well, if it makes you feel better...

    Generally speaking I tailor my response to the quality of my audience. Kiwiblog is run by a fundamentally dishonest man who likes to pass himself off as an independent commentator and its comments section is inhabited largely by idiots. I derive much recreational merriment from by annoying them.

    I regard PA as an altogether more grown up place.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Um, right then. Readers of this Auckland newspaper know not to turn to this organ for balanced, unbiased coverage on this particular topic

    It may not be helpful but I think it's true. I like to read the Herald but don't make the mistake of ever thinking it's unbiased.

    On this matter it is likely to be totally biased since the law will affect the Herald quite a lot. Fair enough to have bias, there's no law against that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • anjum rahman,

    i was really interested in the comments by laila harre yesterday on radio nz regarding the provision of about $0.5 million effectively free advertising for the sensible sentencing trust by the herald. i suspect i'm paraphrasing rather badly. does anyone have more information about this?

    i responded to the stupid on-line question thingy, asking them to provide more information on this - how they decided to give to this particular organisation and not others, what was the basis of the decision etc. i'm not holding my breath for them to suddenly become open & transparent though!

    hamilton • Since Nov 2006 • 130 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    Craig R. A fair point I hadnt considered, But unless I miss-understand.... those government departments already have a budget to spend, and do so..... its just whats allowed in the content thats changed.... And if its financial self interest, content is of no import... just pages sold?

    Look, I'm no partisan spouting talking points... I just say what occurs to me. If you find fault, I appreciate hearing about it. The more info I have, and knowing where that info comes from, allows me to modify my own thoughts...

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 893 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I derive much recreational merriment from by annoying them.

    You haven't thought of taking up a sport involving some sort of ball or racquet? No? Just checking.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • DPF,

    Russell is wrong to say the HRC support the year long regulated period. They explicitly have stated support for the current 90 days.

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

  • Don Christie,

    Yesterday The Herald also claimed that the "Christian Businessmen" outed themselves during the last election.

    Silly me, I thought it was the Greens that outed the EBs covert campaign. Did the Herald miss that action?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Chockasunday,

    I would rather have proper state funding of political parties than what is proposed now.
    It favours the incumbent government too much.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 62 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    the Herald has quoted the Human Rights Commission's scathing submission on the bill, and reported that the commission has called for the bill to be scrapped altogether. It's not actually true.

    Don't tell the HRC that, paragraph 10.2 of their submission seems to put across their view with some clarity:

    A human rights approach to democratic government requires genuine participation. Genuine participation, in turn, requires an informed electorate. By limiting freedom of expression and creating a complex regulatory framework in the way it does, the Electoral Finance Bill unduly limits the rights of all New Zealanders to participate in the electoral process. The Commission therefore considers that the Bill is inherently flawed and should be withdrawn.

    Russell again:

    The HRC wants to keep many of the features that the Herald despises, including the extended regulatory period.

    And back to the HRC:

    Currently the Electoral Act 1993 limits the regulation period during the run up to an election to 3 months. The Commission does not accept that extending the period to almost a year is justified.... Consideration should be given to retaining the present regulatory period.

    ...

    The Commission suggests at the very least that:
    the present regulatory period is retained.

    [My emphasis throughout]

    [RB says: D'oh! I misread part of the HRC's own summary as referring to the period presently regulated in the bill, as opposed to the existing legislation -- I've fixed it now.]

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3211 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    i was really interested in the comments by laila harre yesterday on radio nz regarding the provision of about $0.5 million effectively free advertising for the sensible sentencing trust by the herald. i suspect i'm paraphrasing rather badly. does anyone have more information about this?

    I only half heard that too. My attention had wandered while Matthew Hooten was raving about fascist states. But if it's true, it's the sort of thing that needs to be declared. The SST is hardly apolitical.

    It strikes me that this is an extension of the paper's pledge card campaign, and that it wants to own the issue in much the same way. By contrast, the Herald downplayed the Hollow Men story (the 2005 summing-up editorial dismissed Nicky Hager as a "muckraker"). So that's where they're at. But this kind of chest-beating, invective and fact-tweaking is, at least, undignified.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Jimmy Hayes,

    I have lost a lot of respect for the Herald. Not that I had a huge amount to begin with, but if I was a decent, apparently level-headed columnist like Audrey Young I'd be pretty damn embarrassed by my paper's ridiculous behaviour.

    Since Apr 2007 • 35 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Meanwhile, somewhere where democracy really is under attack.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/2/story.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10475755

    Just so we remember what it actually looks like. I think these guys actually do have WMDs too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Graeme, I confess, I was working off the HRC's own summary, which says the following:

    The Commission suggested that to satisfy the potential infringement on the freedom of expression and the rights of citizens to participate in elections that a new or redrafted bill:

    - Retain the present regulatory period
    - Reword the definition of "election advertisement" to clearly focus on advertising relating to an election
    - Reconsider the scheme to regulate third parties
    - Redefine the meaning of a third party to ensure that young people are not excluded from political debate.

    I misread the "retain" part as referring to the present bill, rather than the present rules. Will fix now.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    But this kind of chest-beating, invective and fact-tweaking is, at least, undignified.

    Yes, soon they'll actually join the blogosphere.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • DaveC,

    Where is the supporting quote for "It [the Herald] sees no problem in very wealthy individuals being able to anonymously pursue their interests by funnelling millions of dollars through secret party trusts that are opaque to the public."

    Anonymous donations were not addressed in the Herald editorial, nor were they addressed in Labour's draft bill (well they were initially, then Labour pulled that part).

    Since Nov 2007 • 22 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    I didnt hear the comment vis Laila Harre and free advertising....

    But it occurs to me, if the Herald is giving away free advertising space to what might be considered political bodies, then that IS the sort of thing the Electoral Finance Bill wants to make declareable...

    But, perhaps the comment was aimed at a more subtle level? If a news source constantly consults a particular source for comment on the news of the day... is that not also publicizing the comment source.... it mentions the name and the comment... it adds weight and credibility to the commenter if they are consulted frequently. Thats a sort of advertsing... but I'm not sure it can, would, or should be covered by any EFB or similar.

    And I see Russell Brown consulted/quoted nearly as much as the sensible sentencing trust or some Union source... and I quite like that :)

    Getting third party comment is good, and I encourage it... but you could call it an advertising of sorts?

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 893 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    FletcherB:

    Sorry if you felt toasted there, B. Look, unless I've severely misunderstood the one thing the EFB will not be coming back to the House with is a sunset clause, and any exemption for government departments is a blindingly obvious loophole crying out to be abused by incumbents of whatever stripe in my view. Who exactly sets departmental budgets, and ultimately decides matters of policy? Sorry, but I don't think it's overly cynical to think the line between 'public information' and electioneering is not only vague, but deliberately so. And successive governments have exploited that to the full.

    I'm not sock puppeting talking points either. In fact, if you wanted to be Machiavellian about it, what problem would I have with the EFB? After all, despite what some people think Labour is not going to hold the Treasury benches forever. And with some minor tweaks, it could quite easily be turned around to gag - or at least mute - Labour and its allies in the union movement etc.

    And bring on state-funding of political parties too -- the more generous the better. You wouldn't believe how many arse-numbingly tedious fundraisers, blue-rinse bats with raffle books and begging letters I've had to put up with over the years. :)

    TomS:

    Yes, wingnuts of all stripes do get under my skin - like ringworm. Still, nice to see, in common with the Redbaiters and D4J's of this world, you're never really responsible for what you do and say.

    To be frank, Tom, I'm not going to chill you out but please excuse me if I've a reason or two or not taking your affected and quite hypocritical moral superiority at all seriously.

    As I've said elsewhere, Tom, you don't like being called out as a wingnut, own your own b.s. and don't act like one.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

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