The Green Party campaign for the state funding of political parties continues:
Some of Wellington’s most recognisable names paid $3500 each to meet Prime Minister John Key at a National Party fundraising dinner also attended by his taxpayer-funded chief of staff, Wayne Eagleson.
As Opposition allegations continue to swirl around National’s so-called “Cabinet clubs” for wealthy donors, it has emerged about 15 people, including former Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast and Weta Digital co-founder Jamie Selkirk, attended the dinner at the Museum Hotel, which raised $45,000 for National. . .
The Museum Hotel event was held in 2011, and organised by hotel owner and National Party fundraiser Chris Parkin.
He said yesterday the event was nothing to do with the Cabinet clubs but was his way of helping to support National.
He joked that at least $2000 worth of each donation was for the food and wine. He did not believe anyone attending fundraising dinners expected to be able to “influence” the prime minister. “They are more there to ask questions.”
Goodness me, a party supporter organises a dinner and donates the proceeds to the party.
I can’t see a problem in that but Norman does.
Green Party leader Russel Norman said the fundraiser showed wealthy people could get access to the prime minister when poorer people could not.
Such fundraisers “may be technically legal, they’re not right”, he said. “If you have a lot of money, you can buy exclusive access to the prime minister.” . .
They aren’t just technically legal, they are legal and they don’t mean that wealthy people get access when poorer people don’t.
It means wealthy people are willing to pay to have a meal attended by the PM when others get to meet and talk with him for free, every day.
A spokeswoman for Key said the Greens were welcome to highlight legitimate fundraisers by National, but Key was more interested in the job of governing.
National had frequently pointed out that all the funds it raised were declared as required by law. She did not respond to a question asking if it was Key’s usual practice to take Eagleson to fundraisers.
Otago law professor Andrew Geddis said National had obeyed the rules around donations by declaring the aggregate of those who donated.
People who donated to political parties liked to see where their money was going and to have contact with those they were giving money to, he said.
People also like to see the government concentrate on governing and issues that matter.
All but the very few who are members of the left-wing parties which want state funding of political parties would also prefer that their taxes were spent on things that matter, not propping up parties which can’t persuade enough people to fund them voluntarily.