Conservatives announce first five

23/08/2014

The Conservative Party has announced the first places on its party list:

 1. Colin Craig
   2. Christine Rankin
   3. Garth McVicar
   4. Melissa Perkin
   5. Dr Edward Saafi

Why it’s stopped at five isn’t explained but the one person likely to make a difference to its vote is McVicar who has nationwide name recognition for his work with victim support and the Sensible Sentencing Trust.


Conservative’s gain NZ First’s loss?

07/08/2014

The Conservative Party has a new high profile candidate:

Sensible Sentencing Trust founder Garth McVicar has decided to stand for the Conservative Party in this year’s election.

The announcement was made today, meaning Mr McVicar will be standing aside as the trust’s co-national spokesman. . .

This follows the weekend’s announcement that Christine Rankin would stand in Epsom.

If the Conservatives gain from this the likely loser will be New Zealand first which usually campaigns on tougher welfare policies and more family-friendly policies which would be Rankin’s territory and  longer sentences and better support for victims which  McVicar promotes.


Craig rules Conservatives out of govt

20/07/2014

Conservative leader Colin Craig is planning to contest the East Coast Bays seat.

He hasn’t made a formal approach but he’s keen for sitting MP Murray McCully to stand aside in the hope that people who voted for the National MP would back Craig instead.

There are several flaws with this, not least being there is absolutely no guarantee the people of East Coast Bays would vote for him in sufficient numbers.

The outcome is even less certain now that New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is talking about throwing his hat in that ring too.

Craig’s case hasn’t been helped by his party’s chief executive Christine Rankin saying the Conservatives could go right or left and work with National or Labour in government.

Voting for Craig would be difficult enough for National supporters in East Coast Bays if his party was committed to supporting a National government,. Few, if any, would countenance it if they thought there was any chance they’d be helping Labour cobble together a coalition.

The Conservative’s case for an electoral accommodation is even weaker now that Craig has said binding referenda would be a bottom line in coalition negotiations.

At the Conservative Party conference today, leader Colin Craig had a clear message to Prime Minister John Key.

He won’t do any type of deal with National unless it agrees to binding referenda. . .

There is absolutely no way a major party would agree to that policy and even if they did, Andrew Geddis points out that a cconstitutional  change of such magnitude should not be passed by a bare majority.

It’s constitutionally improper to even suggest that this happen – it would be like the Maori Party saying that their price for supporting a Government would be for that Government to legislate via a bare parliamentary majority to make the Treaty of Waitangi a “higher law” constitutional document that could be used to strike down other laws. I don’t care whether you think that would be a good outcome; it would be a bad way to bring it about. . .

But even if it did it wouldn’t work under our system which gives parliament sovereignty:

. . . How in a system of parliamentary sovereignty can Parliament (in the shape of a National/Conservative majority) pass a law that says that the general public is able to, by referendum, bind future Parliaments in their lawmaking decisions?

Even if a National/Conservative Government were to use their majority in Parliament to pass a referendum law that says that if the public vote in the future for or against some measure Parliament “must” follow that vote, exactly how would this law be “binding”? If a future Parliament were to just ignore the result of such a referendum – as is the case with current Citizens’ Initiated Referendums, for which no apparent political price gets paid – then what could be done about it? How, given our system of parliamentary sovereignty, could a court order today’s Parliament to do what a past Parliament said it must do? And what could a court even order in such a circumstance? What odds a judge saying to Parliament “because an Act was passed a few years ago saying that you had to make a law if the public voted for it, you now have to draft, debate and enact this particular Bill on this particular issue.”? . . .

Craig is demonstrating his ignorance of constitutional niceties and his own political naivety by making binding referenda it a bottom line and in doing so has ruled his party out of government.

It’s the sort of policy which might gain votes from the disgruntled.

But the party is a long way from the 5% support needed to get into parliament without the safety net of an electorate seat. Thankfully the chances of him being gifted one were already low and this bottom line will ought to have killed the idea completely.


Franks &Ogilvie offer rewards for whistle-blowers on election book botch up

28/09/2013

In an ideal world we’d all be well informed on local body election candidates and issues.

Sadly few of us are and many depend on the booklets which accompany voting papers to make their decisions.

This year some candidates have been missed from the book and others have had their photos and details mismatched.

Stephen Franks  blogs:

An unknown number of candidate profile electorate booklets  have been circulated with pages missing.

The mistakes seem likely to affect the result of the elections in affected areas, even if the number of booklets circulated is small, if the missing pages were concentrated in those areas;

Affected candidates could have a right to a new election;

Officials are downplaying the seriousness of the problem.

We’ve been instructed by a public spirited client to help shine a light on the problem. He’s instructed us to offer rewards for the necessary evidence. The announcement is set out below.

If it turns out that few deficient booklets were circulated, he will be relieved. He’ll feel this exercise will have been worth the expense, just for the reassurance that New Zealand is not as far toward casual corruption as he fears.  It will be worth it to know that a cover-up is not underway.

I’m concerned that it should be necessary. The responsible Minister and officials should be more active. We need to see reassuring vigilance and vigour from the Police, and the Department of Internal Affairs. Whatever the result our donor will have done what he feels is his duty as a citizen.

The media release from Franks and Ogilvie explains:

Wellington specialist public law firm Franks & Ogilvie will pay rewards and prizes for whistle-blowers to establish the scale of the local election booklet botch-up.  A client who wishes to remain anonymous will fund the prizes and rewards.

“The client is appalled by what he fears is an official cover-up” said Stephen Franks, a principal of the public law specialist firm. “Candidates and people helping them face prison for breaching even trivial electoral rules without proof that the breach would change a single vote. Across the country hundreds of elected positions may be determined by a few votes.”

In Auckland alone, at the last election a number of local board positions were decided on margins of less than 10 votes, and the margin for election to Council was as low as 253 votes.”

“In New Zealand rights of free electoral speech and advertising are severely restricted. We’ve taken away rights that are normal in most democracies. Billboards are confined to a few sites and the Police do not protect them from vandalism. So we’re driving candidates and parties to rely on official channels – most voters will have nothing more than the candidate booklet to inform them.”

“That happens in corrupt places like Russia, then candidates get mysteriously  ‘missed out’ of registers and ballot papers and so forth. New Zealanders are trusting. But the donor is worried that we are letting integrity slide away. Our local postal elections are now seriously vulnerable to fraud.”

“Our client is appalled that there has not been an immediate announcement of an independent inquiry. It should be held so we can know that the ‘mistakes’ are genuinely immaterial and innocuous. New Zealanders need to know how many candidates are affected, whether there is a sinister pattern to it, and the likely consequences. In particular, in the words of the section giving a right to a fresh election, we all need to know whether a mistake will “affect the result of the election”.

“In case there is a determined attempt at a cover-up, we may have to rely on citizen action now, to know. Officials are saying ‘nothing to see here’. But our client has reason to believe that there were tens of thousands of defective booklets found by emergency teams of temps. It is possible that many faulty booklets had already been dispatched.”

Legal importance

A judge deciding whether an irregularity has affected the result of the election will need to know:

  1. Approximately how many voters and booklets were affected?
  2. Which candidates were affected?

“We need to know this now,” says Mr Franks.  “In a month how many people will still have their booklets? How many will even know they were missing pages of names if they do not look and report now?”

The prizes

Delivery of booklets with relevant pages missing will earn $1500 for the person who delivers most before 5pm Monday 7 October, $600 for the next most, and $400 for the third most.  Please send to Franks & Ogilvie, PO Box 10388, Wellington.

The prizes will be paid only to collectors willing to give evidence if necessary, as to how they collected them.

Each booklet must be certified by the person who provides it to the collector, that it has not been mutilated or otherwise materially changed from the condition in which it was distributed, and that person must add their name and address where they received the booklet and contact email or phone number.

We’re also taking messages (info@franksogilvie.co.nz) about defective booklets.

Rewards for whistle-blowing

Rewards to compensate for time and trouble will be paid at our discretion to whistle-blowers. The client may recompense for information materially useful in knowing:

  1. whether there has been a cover-up;
  2. when the problem was first known;
  3. what steps were taken to remedy it;
  4. who knew or reported at high levels; and
  5. whether the official responses were proper in relation to the seriousness.

Please contact Stephen Franks (via info@franksogilvie.co.nz) or leave a message on 04 815 8036 if you have relevant information.  Use a pseudonym if you wish.  We will maintain confidentiality.  The information will matter more at this stage than who provides it.

Our decision on entitlement to a reward or prize is final.

Yesterday Leighton Smith interviewed Christine Rankin who is one of the candidates whose entry was completely missing from the booklet.

She said she didn’t think the errors and omissions were deliberate but pointed out that some people will already have voted before corrected booklets are delivered.

That some mistakes were made is bad enough but her impressions was that someone knew about it but made no effort to let people know which is even worse.


Rankin & Pilbrow new family commissioners

12/05/2009

Christine Rankin, former Social Welfare head, and Bruce Pilbrow, CEO of Parents Inc  have been appointed to the Families Commission.

Their appointments may well result in a change of direction and tone but doesn’t change my view that it would be better to disestablish the commission and direct the funding to organisations like Plunket which work directly with families.


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