Greens camapign for state funding continues

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.

18 Responses to Greens camapign for state funding continues

  1. RBG says:

    Political parties run by and for rich people can obviously raise much more money from their supporters than can those that represent lower income people. Not suprisingly National thinks this is fine, but it isn’t. It just perpetuates inequality. Voters are now seeing more and more evidence of how this government favours its rich mates, its not a good look Homepaddock.

  2. ploughboy says:

    thanks russel you have just motovated me to donate to national

  3. pdm says:

    RBG – based on your logic that rich chappie Mills should not have given $60,000 to each of Labour and the Greens. His donation is a far clearer case of buying influence than any National Party fund raiser as far as I can see.

  4. JC says:

    RBG,

    As a Nat member I get regular invites to go to various fundraisers where I can meet one on one with my own MP and whichever MP or Cabinet Minister he brings along. Typically these events are quite small.. maybe 20-30 other people there so my access is very good.

    So how much does this near exclusive contact cost me?.. normally $20 and I pay for my own meal and drink unless the owner of the establishment is in a good mood and shouts nibbles.

    Most if not all Nat members get this sort of access for this sort of price.. its called working Democracy and as I can attest in the times I was not a member I could ring a Cabinet Minister and have him visit me personally to discuss some issue I had raised about his portfolio. In times past I have been on regular if infrequent contact with Cabinet Ministers including a PM.. I got that access because I rang them about issues or they rang me. Anyone can do this repeatedly if they have an interest and some modicum of expertise or something sensible to say.

    Now, whether you are left or right you can have that sort of access with your preferred MP or Minister.. thats the way NZ is, but you wont get repeats if you are just a clackmouth.

    Whether left or right you can also “reward” your party by finding an excuse to donate a lot of money.. that excuse is a meeting where you are promised access to the MP/Minister/PM/Leader/Leader of the Opposition/Opposition spokesman. Nevermind you dont have to pay anything for access.. you can get that anytime as Joe Blow but occasionally you will be moved to attend one of Cunliffe’s exclusive deals and pay your dollars to help the Party.

    I don’t know whether you get the same access to Russel Norman but I do know you won’t find out much about how he’s spending his taxpayer money.. the word “corrupt” has been used to describe that..

    You can get an appreciation of the hypocrisy and dodgy dealing of the Greens from Bryce Edwards who studies political funding of parties.. the Greens now outspend ACT and are the 3rd biggest spenders:

    http://liberation.typepad.com/liberation/2008/10/political-fin-1.html#more

    Further, you’ll find there that from 1996 to 2008 Labour and the Nats both spent just over $5 million each with Labour outspending the Nats in most of those years.

    So much for the Labs/Greens recent push to belt National over funding.. they are even better at it themselves working the same pools of money!

    JC

  5. Dave Kennedy says:

    Already the state covers TV air time that is proportional to the size of the parties, there is a precedent already. If it was a free for all in this area, the Conservative party would have had more advertising than most others based on their campaign spending last time.

    There will always be the perception of influence when commercial interests donate large sums of money whether it be to National or the Greens. If parties were given tight, state funded budgets then we would have to judge each on their effectiveness in using that budget and be forced to look at their policies. It would be more like racing yachts of one class, where all the boats are the same and the best crews win.

    It wouldn’t even cost more for the country as all parties have parliamentary funds that can’t be spent on electioneering over the campaign months, that could form the basis of their funding.

  6. homepaddock says:

    The answer to that Dave isn’t more state funding, it’s none.

  7. Dave Kennedy says:

    Ele, i would hate to end up with the US model where corporates effectively determine Government policy. If we want independent governments then separating them from unnecessary influence and potential corrupting is important. My wife is a GP and for many years Drug companies funded conferences and generous gifts, although doctors felt their ethics and independence could keep a separation from influence it was found that their prescription decisions had actually been corrupted. The same obviously happens in politics, Oravida is the classic example.

  8. Dave Kennedy says:

    should be ‘potential corruption’ above.

  9. RBG says:

    You don’t see the inequality Homepaddock because you are in one of the parties run by and for the rich. People struggling to feed their families can’t afford to donate money (even $20 JC) to parties that advocate for them, thats why Mana has been talking to Dotcom I guess. Your lot like the present system where you can afford expensive advertising and those representing the poor can’t, it helps your party that gives tax cuts to the rich. You scream hypocrisy from your priviledged position when other parties try and level the playing field.

  10. RBG says:

    I bet Homepaddock and fans would be quite happy with the US funding rules Dave

  11. JC says:

    So RBG, how do you explain Labour fundraising and spending as much as National over 1996-2008 and outspending them on occasion, and how to explain the Greens outspending ACT?

    The Left are not poor, they use the same tactics as the Nats and they suck money from the corporates even as they berate them to the faithful.

    If they are struggling for funds now its because they have moved away from Mainstream NZ and are the authors of their own failures.

    JC

  12. Dave Kennedy says:

    JC, the Greens are effective fundraiser, but only because we have to in the current system, however you will notice that the Conservatives had an even bigger budget than us (ACT was a dead party last election). It would be better that we didn’t have to rely on spending a good part of our time trying to raise money and had more time getting our policies out there.

  13. JC says:

    DK,

    As Edwards notes the Greens stunning improvement in fund raising came as a result of mainstreaming and cutting out membership input.. thus creating something more resembling a socialist party than a predominantly Green party.

    State funding would cut you further off from the membership thats green because you would need them even less. Sure, you might then be able to reinsert your purist Green point of difference but history tells us that the Green vote would likely subside back to 5-6%.

    The effects on Labour could be profound as well, no longer would it need union funds and thus the Party could change direction to appeal to a wider public. Yes the unions are important at getting out the vote, but the migrant vote is becoming more important and Labour has burned its bridges there and PI look set to move right as well.

    But over and above these points which are merely debatable.. this is NZ and its anathema for most to be required to support parties they don’t like. . certainly under an MMP environment where one would be forced to pay for some very dodgy would be politicians and ideologies.

    JC

  14. Dave Kennedy says:

    “The Greens stunning improvement in fund raising came as a result of mainstreaming and cutting out membership input.”

    You couldn’t be more wrong, JC, Green membership is growing strongly because of our active campaigns, whether it be against deep sea oil drilling or the asset sale referendum. We also have support from unions because we support their campaigns as well. http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/news/10025640/Kitchen-staff-supporters-stage-protest

    We have had past National and labour members join us because we actively engage members in developing our policy. A whole wing of our organisation is focussed on policy development. i find it interesting to read what outsiders think of our operations, but they are often quite wrong I have been a member of the Party for 10 years and I have never seen such a high level of membership engagement. Our Invercargill branch has doubled in size since 2011.

    We have almost completed our list ranking process where every financial member is able to take part in ranking our candidates. No other party has such a high level of membership engagement. Fundraising is a small part of what we do and most members would rather support policy or campaigns.

    When funding is tied to the previous election results I think you will find there will be little money going to the truly wacky parties.

  15. JC says:

    “Green membership is growing strongly because of our active campaigns”

    That isn’t what I (more correctly Edwards) meant, which is policy is now not from the grass roots but higher up the ladder in order to sieve out the more looney ideas. I can remember the media articles back then of aggrieved members complaining about this.

    “We also have support from unions because we support their campaigns as well.”

    Which of course translates to what I said.. the Greens are mainstreaming and broadening their socialist appeal.

    JC

  16. Dave Kennedy says:

    JC, Edwards and yourself are implying that leadership is dictating policy and direction but this is just a perception and not the reality. While the public face of the party are our MPs and parliamentary leaders our Policy Co-convenors and Party Co-convenors (equivalent of party president) have equal status and as the facilitator of our education policy review I can tell you that MPs were part of the review but contributed like other members, although their knowledge and experience was respected. What we have recognized is that very detailed policy can be restrictive when situations and legislation changes. We have gone for a broader more concise approach that has a greater focus on values and general intent.

    I do find the National Party’s approach to policy difficult to get my head around especially when they refused to provide their policy in 2011 for National Radio’s website. Why would that be?http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/election-2011/policies/3

  17. JC says:

    “I do find the National Party’s approach to policy difficult to get my head around especially when they refused to provide their policy in 2011 for National Radio’s website.”

    Radio NZ is the official in house media organ for the Labour and Green parties. Not surprising that National, Maori Party, ACT, Mana and United Future either ignored the questions or answered with one word or one sentence replies.

    Other media with wider public appeal did much better with the likes of National.

    JC

  18. Dave Kennedy says:

    “Radio NZ is the official in house media organ for the Labour and Green parties.”

    It is one of our major public broadcasters, so what on earth would National have to hide by having their policy there? I have never found Radio NZ particularly biased in their approach, they just ask hard questions and provide a range of perspectives.

    It really does appear that Cameron Slater’s blog is the only media outlet that National feel totally comfortable with. John Key’s regular contact with Salter supports this: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/9723130/Looks-like-Slater-is-Keys-Peters-source

    Tell me what media outlets do you think are fair and apolitical?

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