Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: The New Zealand Election Tax

42 Responses

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  • izogi,

    Hi Graeme.

    A $300 deposit is required for each candidate, and $1000 is required to nominate a party list.

    Is the $1000 in addition to $300 for each candidate on the list? Or is it a $1000 flat rate for submitting a list of any length?

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis,

    Good points Graeme and a clear way to make this anti-democratic law go away

    How many to nominate a candidate is the question, 1% of the electrate was my first thought but I doubt if the major parties could find 570 peple to sign a piece of paper
    Even a hundred would take some organising for a first time movement but on the other hand we do not want to make it too easy to fill the ballot with nut-cases
    57 .1% has a nice ring to it

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 576 posts Report Reply

  • Angela,

    Certainly the existing rules are not fair and need to be changed. I like the idea of a requirement demonstrating community support rather than a financial one, it's far more appropriate.
    I don't think the public is well served by the television media in that I think people want to see debate, preferably live debate, open to all parties. A situation in which the elite major parties are excused and only expected to talk to each other is not good enough.

    Waitakere City, West Auck… • Since Nov 2011 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • NBH,

    parties outside Parliament trying to enter the scene, pay 'election taxes' of perhaps $15k-$20k.

    Ooh, do I get to fact check you Graeme? :-) I just did a very quick calculation using the Electoral Commission's (appalling formatted) summary of the 2008 election table here, and as far as I can tell the only party outside Parliament that had to deposit anything even near this was the Kiwi Party (who paid $11,800). The other non-Parliamentary parties' deposits would have been between $5800 (the Libz) and $1000 (Bill and Ben, who were list only).

    I suppose that sneaky 'perhaps' applies, since a party could theoretically stand in all electorates and not get 5% in any of them (and not get 0.5% of the party vote either), but in 2008 it looks like the average deposit from non-Parliamentary parties other than Kiwi was a bit under $4K. From the Electoral Commission's results I'd hazard a guess that the biggest 'losers' from this in 2008 - without actually calculating individual electorate results - were probably United.Future and ACT.

    On a compeltely unrelated note, the 'Family Tree' on the Kiwi Party's Wikipedia page is pretty amusing

    Wellington • Since Oct 2008 • 97 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to NBH,

    Ooh, do I get to fact check you Graeme? :-) I just did a very quick calculation using the Electoral Commission’s (appalling formatted) summary of the 2008 election table here, and as far as I can tell the only party outside Parliament that had to deposit anything even near this was the Kiwi Party (who paid $11,800).

    I was thinking of the Conservative Party, which has nominated 52 electorate candidates and one list, for $16,600 all up. If they get back much more than $800, I'll be surprised.

    The other non-Parliamentary parties’ deposits would have been between $5800 (the Libz) and $1000 (Bill and Ben, who were list only).

    Bill and Ben got their deposit back.

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

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to izogi,

    Is the $1000 in addition to $300 for each candidate on the list? Or is it a $1000 flat rate for submitting a list of any length?

    Sorry, could have been more clear: $300 per electorate. $1000 per list (of whatever length).

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

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    I was thinking of the Conservative Party, which has nominated 52 electorate candidates and one list, for $16,600 all up. If they get back much more than $800, I’ll be surprised.

    Going by its founder's record with the pro-smacking march, I would be too.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5415 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Raymond A Francis,

    Even a hundred would take some organising for a first time movement but on the other hand we do not want to make it too easy to fill the ballot with nut-cases

    They would. Some people have criticised the ease of registering a party in New Zealand: you only need 500 members. I think I'm fine with that, but an extra incentive to have a few more wouldn't go amiss.

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

  • NBH,

    Really? I'd definitely be expecting the Conservative Party to top 0.5%, and so get at least their list deposit back, and from the way I've heard people talking about Rodney, Colin Craig is likely to get over 5% of the candidate vote there. I'd be picking about $1300, maybe up to $1600 if they get very exceptionally lucky in another seat (though you're right with that range, since that would still mean that they've lost $15K).

    Bill and Ben got their deposit back.

    Yeah, I simply meant that their deposit was $1K - the Kiwi Party would also have got their list deposit back.

    Wellington • Since Oct 2008 • 97 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Angela,

    I don’t think the public is well served by the television media in that I think people want to see debate, preferably live debate, open to all parties. A situation in which the elite major parties are excused and only expected to talk to each other is not good enough.

    Yeah. I wasn't a fan of that call. Even if the National and Labour leader think three head-to-head debates in four weeks is enough, there's no reason they couldn't just send someone else, like the deputy leaders, to a multi-party debate, although they can get a bit messy.

    One of the things I like about the US Primary system is that there are a large number of debates between people whom people could possibly vote for. A debate between National and Labour and The Greens and ACT, and United Future and Bill and Ben and whoever involves quite a bit of filler for someone who is trying to make up their mind between National, ACT and New Zealand First, or choosing between Labour, the Greens and the Maori Party.

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

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to NBH,

    I’d definitely be expecting the Conservative Party to top 0.5%, and so get at least their list deposit back, and from the way I’ve heard people talking about Rodney, Colin Craig is likely to get over 5% of the candidate vote there. I’d be picking about $1300, maybe up to $1600

    Yep. Too many numbers going through my head. As I was writing that comment I was assuming list $500 + Craig $300, I imagine because I was thinking about 500 party members or something like that. $1300 or $1600 seems right.

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

  • Richard Aston, in reply to NBH,

    On a completely unrelated note, the 'Family Tree' on the Kiwi Party's Wikipedia page is pretty amusing

    NBH - that is a very interesting little political whakapapa indeed. Not a bad idea for all parties to show something like that.
    But man those Christians parties have family backgrounds that look um.. biblical.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 509 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston,

    Great idea Graeme and I especially like the community nomination idea. It grounds the political process so well. My preference would be a minimum of 100 . If you cannot get 100 people to sign up their support for your nomination what possible chance would you have getting even 1% of the party vote.

    Your point about the advantages the large incumbent parties have is well taken. Aside from ministerial services ( which are supposed to be curtailed in the election period) what about all that free domestic travel elected MPs have to rock up and down the country.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 509 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    Certainly the idea of discussing this election tax is worthwhile. To point out it also impacts parliamentary parties incl Greens, ACT and United, all of whom have candidates running list-vote-only campaigns and many of whom do not recover deposits. I used to have the numbers somewhere . . .

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    Ah yes: deposits in 2008 of Parliamentary parties:

    ACT lost 55 deposits ($16,500), and recovered 4. Did not run in 11 other seats.
    Greens lost 21 ($6,300) and recovered 39. Did not run in 10.
    Progressive lost 25 ($7,500) and recovered 1.
    United lost 50 ($15,000) and recovered 1.

    Maori Party, Labour and National recovered all deposits.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    And a check of electionresults.govt.nz suggests that in 2008 of 186 candidates for non-Parliamentary parties, and independents, only 10 got their deposits back.

    176 lost their deposits ($52,800) - $7,500 more than lost by four Parliamentary parties.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Some people have criticised the ease of registering a party in New Zealand: you only need 500 members.

    I too am comfortable with that: entry is fairly easy so that, for example, Colin Craig can contest the election with the Conservative Party.

    But there are ongoing requirements to retain registration, which seem to have a practical effect of keeping the real parties and allowing others to be deregistered. (Requirements are to annually: a) declare whether membership is over 500 b) declare whether the party intends to contest the next election and c) submit an audited return of donations.

    About 37 parties have been registered and contested one or more elections since 1996, but are now deregistered. There are a few more which registered but never ran, IIRC.

    In 2011 we have 13 parties with lists, and for nine, this is at least their 4th MMP election.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston,

    Lets not forget the joke parties in all this - I think they add a welcome crazy element to elections - Bill and Ben , Mad Hatters Tea Party, McGillicuddy Serious Party etc
    We need to make it easy for them to stand - they represent a noble tradition of jokers, jesters and fools back through history.
    I have suggested elsewhere we need a jester in parliament - especially for some of those tedious third readings of minor bills.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 509 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Richard Aston,

    I have suggested elsewhere we need a jester in parliament - especially for some of those tedious third readings of minor bills.

    And someone has to wear the baubles.

    ETA: Or bauballs as Key pronounced them this morning. 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.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Oddly enough, it is precisely the minor parties' electorate candidates I have the least sympathy towards. They are running purely for promotional reasons, not to win the election, and I think it is entirely fair that if Graham Kennedy wants to raise his profile by running in the Ilam electorate without a chance of winning, he should help meet the costs of his publicity stunt.

    It's the (crazies and the loons) ahem, sorry, independent candidates, the single issue types and the desperate no-hopers that seem hard done by: they really do want to win, and they are the least likely to be able to afford it, and they would also be the least likely to be able to collect a large number of nominations.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    if Graham Kennedy wants to raise his profile by running in the Ilam electorate without a chance of winning, he should help meet the costs of his publicity stunt.

    I'm running a candidate without a skerrick of a chance of winning (Todd Ross, Mangere, Green) in one of the safest Labour seats in the country. All our costs are being met by either ourselves, or the party. Time off work, petrol, timber, signs, and other associated costs all add up to something substantial. We pay the Electoral Commission a $300 deposit, and if we get 5% of votes it is returned.

    To describe this as a rort is strange. It is the minimal cost of democracy. If we were to require the Electoral Commission to decide only to allow 'electable' candidates, we would be in a very precarious position indeed.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    I'm not describing it as a rort; I don't really like the idea of deposits, to be honest. But if we have deposits, the idea would seem to be to discourage candidates who have no hope of winning, but run anyway.

    The Greens, for example, are precisely the kind of candidates that should be discouraged under this idea of the deposit. By pushing slightly more of the costs of the election onto them, it makes them less likely to run candidates without a hope of winning, and so reduces the number of pointless candidacies. And Green candidacies where the candidate isn't pushing for candidate votes are purposely pointless, using the electoral system as a publicity machine. So why shouldn't they have to chip in?

    But take someone who passionately believes in their prospect of success, who is running because they really think that the electorate will realise what a great idea they have. They really want to win. They pay the deposit, and they haven't a hope of getting it back. And that seems like a real shame, because it is likely that it does have a chilling effect on ideas.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    They are running purely for promotional reasons, not to win the election

    the party vote is somewhat important for winning

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    Exactly Sacha.

    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.

    At the Ohariu meeting I went along to, I also got to hear the Conservative, Libertarian and NZ First viewpoints from the respective candidates. Good on them.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    They are running purely for promotional reasons, not to win the election,

    Can't say that I agree with you. Funnily enough I was discussing the point with an Electoral Commission staffer this afternoon: when registering a party or submitting a nomination, the Electoral Act has does not require that any reason be supplied.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

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