Public funding would remove problems – Clark

Public funding of political parties was mentioned in passing yesterday during question time in parliament when National was asking questions over Winston Peters.

Mr Key said the Government with New Zealand First’s support had pushed through the Electoral Finance Act designed to make election funding more transparent.

“Did she expect she would be standing in the House defending Mr Peters who seemed to receive $100,000 but didn’t want to tell anyone about it?”

Miss Clark said that was a “bit rich” considering how much the National Party benefited from anonymous donations.

Dr Norman asked if the scandal showed the need to ban anonymous donations and Miss Clark agreed, saying public funding would remove problems.

It would remove some problems for politicians but it would create more, including wasting more taxpayers’ money on party political activities and make politicians less accountable to party members and the general public.

3 Responses to Public funding would remove problems – Clark

  1. ZenTiger says:

    On one hand we have the possibility of tax payer funding, and on the other hand we say “Let the public decide who they fund”. On that basis, the option (to me) is clearly the latter.

    The gray area is when its not the voting public per se, but big business and overseas interests funding a party. They might represent the wishes of their employees, but not necessarily the best interests of New Zealand.

    Combine that with “unpaid” political advertising, such as journalists like Chris Trotter, Tapu Misa, Hooten and Long generally for their respective camps and getting good kicks in “for free”.

    And those organisations that get buckets of money from the government for various reasons, have a cheek in then spending some of it on supporting a political party.

    If we are going to have a good debate on ideas, we need a much better way than the way we do things now. The Electoral Finance Act was *supposed* to improve matters, but from the outset the volume of criticism against it was foreshadowing to see just how much it has failed. Winston’s “legal” donations only highlight that.

    I have a few ideas to redress the balance, but I dont have time to post about them right now. No-one is really listening anyway – better to wait until some party has the good sense to revisit the EFA and open up the debate with broader terms of reference and invite wider public discussion, and a series of submissions (perhaps three rounds instead of the single round we got from the EFA) that can therefore comment on the bill as it evolves.

    –ZenTiger

  2. Lawrence of Otago says:

    remove all government controls in racing & fishing
    would also remove the problem.

    Why is it that every problem must be solved by more taxpeyer funding?

    Stop trying to fix a government created problem with more government!

    Lawrence oO

  3. JC says:

    Forcing a party to raise it’s own funding has several merits.

    For starters, it’s the most basic test of public support for a party.

    Two, it provides a basic test as to whether that party can honestly and competently manage donations to the satisfaction of the Electoral Commission.

    Three. It forces parties to campaign for both support and money.

    Four. Done properly, as in the US, you can read a journalist and then look up his donations to a party to see where his biases might lie.

    State funding not only denies these points but embeds funding for a party that loses popularity because funding is based on an historical vote. Thus you could have a nothing party get extended funding based on nothing more than an historical electoral whim, eg, a protest vote for a fly by night party.

    JC

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