EFA’s effect on 3rd parties

September 17, 2009

Bryce Edwards continues his analysis of the 2009 election with a look at the effect of the EFA on third parties.

He concludes:

It is beyond the scope of this chapter to ascertain the EFA’s effectiveness in achieving its stated objectives, but it is worth nothing that part of the EFA’s stated purpose was to ‘ensure that the controls on the conduct of election campaigns: (i) are effective; and (ii) are clear; and (iii) can be efficiently administered, complied with, and enforced’ (EFA 2007, s 3). Yet the experience of many participants showed that these goals were not achieved. A second major stated purpose of the EFA was to encourage participation in elections, but as this paper has shown, there is evidence to suggest that the opposite occurred in terms of the participation of third parties.

It is notable that after its election loss, the Labour Party not only voted with National in Parliament to abolish the EFA, but also later made a submission to the Ministry of Justice on electoral law that advocated that third parties should be subjected to much looser regulation during elections. In an indication of how unpopular the regulation of third parties was in 2008,

He also continues his analysis of the party’s which campaigned in last year’s election with a look at New Zealand First.


Three strikes and . . .?

October 3, 2008

First there was the accusation that Attonrey General Michael Cullen let us down  over the EFA.

Second there was the accusation that he misled cabinet. over the Canadian attempt to buy Auckland Airport.

Now we have a third accusation that he’s using dodgy figures on Trans Tasman wage comparisons against Treasury advice.

That’s three strikes today but we’ve got five weeks until we can rule him out – and then only if enough voters see the light.


EFA bad for our health

August 19, 2008

Okay, that’s a silly headline but it’s also a silly Act because it’s constraining the Ministry of Health’s advertising programme about the cervical cancer vaccine.

The new electoral law has forced the Ministry of Health to keep its advertising for the cervical cancer vaccination programme at a low level until after the election.

The human papilloma virus vaccination programme starts next month.

The ministry acknowledged yesterday that because of nervousness about falling foul of the Electoral Finance Act, it was sticking to just brochures and posters for primary health care centres – until after the poll.

Not until November and December will it crank up its full promotional campaign, including TV, radio, print and online advertising, for its vaccination programme with Gardasil, which protects against four strains of HPV, two of which are linked to 70 per cent of cervical cancers.

… The ministry’s deputy director of public health, Fran McGrath, said last night that in developing its promotion of the vaccination programme, it took guidance from the commission and Office of the Auditor-General, plus legal advice.

“The content and timing of what the ministry planned did not need to be changed.”

No? Then why wait until after the election to crank up the campaign?

Mike Taylor, country manager of CSL Biotherapies New Zealand, which supplies the vaccine  said that the company had consulted lawyers to ensure its advertisements wouldn’t be considered political.

“[Our legal] advice is we do need to be careful: as long as we are not referring to the Government, and not connecting them to this campaign, we should be okay.”

When the law becomes farcial the Act is an ass. So too are Labour and its allies who designed it and  steamrolled it through parliament over soundly based objections from people and organisations across the political spectrum and many  others without poltical bias

Hat tip: Inquiring Mind


Winners & losers in donations saga

July 28, 2008

Gordon Campbell sorts out the winenrs and losers in the NZ First donations saga:

At half time in the Winston Peters latest scandal – which seems to involve several money trails complex enough to merit inclusion in the Winebox – likely winners are beginning to emerge. And the main beneficiary is undoubtedly….the much reviled Electoral Finance Act. If New Zealand First’s shenanigans don’t make a convincing case for cleaning up the system by which political donations were formerly made in New Zealand, then nothing will. Unfortunately, most of the nanny state mileage has already been wrung out of the EFA – but at least the Act may now be spared further pounding during the election campaign.

Most opponents of the EFA accepted there were problems with the old system which needed to be addressed. But replacing an Act with flaws with a flawed Act created more problems than it solved.

Will the whole affair end up hurting Peters? It depends in which capacity. Peters has two levels of concern : seeing NZF get over 5 % nationwide, and winning back his seat in Tauranga. I think this affair will hurt him in Tauranga by making him look even more like the old, tainted goods that he was already portrayed as by Simon Bridges, the young National candidate and former Crown prosecutor standing against him. It is less clear the affair will hurt his party’s chances of getting over the 5 % MMP threshold in the election.

How so ? Peters will spin the criticism over the donations in exactly the same way that he spins the criticisms he gets over racism. Normally, around this point in the election cycle, Peters plays his triennial race card, and will attack ‘Asian’ migration – lumping together in the process Asians of all nationalities, brown people and Arabs into the same suspect category.

The donations affair has the same media dynamic. Conveniently for Peters, the media handling of his race gambit habitually assumes that Winston’s supporters are a bunch of rednecks, waiting only for the master manipulator to throw the switch. In fact, it is the response to this criticism that lifts New Zealand First’s boat, not the racism per se. What unites NZF supporters is their tribal dislike of Peters’ opponents, who are legion, and who include the big corporates and media commentariat. The trigger that fires up NZF’s poll ratings is the sense of persecution that these voters hold in common, rather than a shared belief system.

In previous decades, they used to call this the Citizens for Rowling syndrome. It entails an elite holding forth, unaware of how much it is disliked by the people that it aims to influence and enlighten. Rob Muldoon, Peters avowed mentor, would play those kind of critiques like a violin.

Peters is equally adept at fiddling though he’s striking more than a few wrong notes with this piece.

As the race tightens, the prospect is that a National-led government may become beholden to Peters once again, jeopardising any revolutionary centre-right agenda. John Key can probably take care of his enemies – but what is he telling the boardrooms about how he proposes to handle his budding friend from Tauranga, post election? This week, Key is telling the public is that he will wait for the election result. Thereby, National will be able to blame the public for landing him with the necessity of making an arrangement with Peters. In fact, both major parties can claim a reluctance to deal with Peters in future, but invoke democracy as the rationale for doing so. Neat.

So at half time and in a Graham Henry sense, who are the winners and losers?

Winners. for the reasons stated : New Zealand First, the Electoral Finance Act, and Winston Peters as party leader. Rodney Hide, who gets to play the indignant touch judge, in a situation where neither Helen Clark nor John Key can afford to complain directly to the ref. National, who were just starting to get stick for not releasing any substantive policy, when this affair obligingly swept everything else off the political agenda.

Losers: Winston Peters, as Tauranga candidate, for the reasons stated. Also : the New Zealand Herald, and the Dominion-Post. Both newspapers railed against the EFA, and – with a straight face – have now railed against the kind of arrangements practiced by NZF ( and in all likelihood, by other political parties who were laundering anonymous donations via trusts) that made the EFA, or legislation akin to it, essential. And oh, the public.

And oh, the truth which gets buried deeper by the day.


Poll: 62% say Peters should resign

July 21, 2008

It’s not scientific – but the poll on Decision 08 asking if Winston Peters should design shows 62% of people saying yes and 38% saying no.

Another poll shows 56% of people would support a reversal of the EFA, 31% opposing that and 13% registering as don’t knows.


Labour’s Next Leader

July 8, 2008

Dene Mackenzine looks at the people who could be the next Labour leader:

The contest to replace Prime Minister Helen Clark might be less brutal and more clear cut than previous leadership challenges, depending on the outcome of the election this year.

Less brutal leadership change? Now there’s an oxymoron.

If, as Miss Clark continues to believe, Labour can cobble together a coalition government, then she remains safe and can leave in her own time, having taken Labour to a historic fourth-term win.

But if Labour loses and the election result is close, party sources believe Trade Minister Phil Goff is the principal candidate for the job.

He is seen as a safe replacement who would not shift Labour markedly away from its centre-left position.

Although he is tainted with having been an MP in the Rogernomics era, many of Labour’s supporters are too young to remember Sir Roger Douglas and his ideas in the David Lange-led government.

If a week is a long time in politics, two decades is ancient history.

Police Minister Annette King is seen as the logical deputy leader for Mr Goff, to give the party a gender balance and an Auckland-Wellington split.

Pity about the mess she created in health, the EFA and last week’s Road User Charge debacle. And let’s not forget blaming crime on the full moon and sunny weather.

The last four opinion polls published show National’s support at more than 50% and its lead over Labour at more than 20 points.

If the polls hold up, Labour could lose up to 18 MPs, including electorate members.

Polls usually tighten before an election – although this time Labour might be where National was in 2002.

If the defeat is not too broad, Mr Goff will be challenged by Health Minister David Cunliffe and Labour Minister Trevor Mallard.

Both would bring with them an image problem.

Mr Cunliffe was identified early in his career as a potential leader, but has earned the disdain of some colleagues for his “superior” attitude.

That has mellowed somewhat and as health minister, and also as communications minister, he has shown a preparedness to take a hands-on approach to his portfolios.

But over at Craig Foss we see that those hands haven’t always done the right thing.

However, that’s another story so back to the ODT:

Mr Mallard was demoted for punching National Party MP Tau Henare, but retains strong friendships in the Labour caucus and is deputy finance minister.

As a former chief whip, he knows how to gather the numbers for a close vote.

A decimation of Labour will see other candidates chancing their arm in the belief that it will take Labour six years, or two terms, to win office.

Energy Minister David Parker and Immigration Minister Clayton Cosgrove will mount challenges.

Neither is particularly popular with colleagues, and Mr Cosgrove will be a fiercer competitor than Mr Parker.

Mr Cosgrove has been a member of the party since he was 14, and is a protege of former prime minister Mike Moore.

Mr Parker is seen more in the mould of former prime minister Sir Wallace (Bill) Rowling, and would offer a leadership style out of step with modern politics.

That’s the one who looked more surprised than anyone else when he won Otago in 2002 and few were surprised when he lost it to Jacqui Dean three years later.

Also in the mix at this level will be Building and Construction Minister Shane Jones, a Maori MP of whom was expected great things.

He is said to be “hugely bright” but pompous and obviously ambitious.

Not a good combination if you’re trying to win a leaderhsip contest.

Clark successors?

•Labour wins: Helen Clark stays as prime minister.

•Labour loses narrowly: Phil Goff takes over early next year.

•Labour loses moderately: Mr Goff, David Cunliffe and Trevor Mallard fight it out.

•Labour thumped: Free for all, with David Parker, Clayton Cosgrove and Shane Jones fancying their chances.

All very interesting, but the really fascinating point is that this discussion is being had at all. A few months ago leadership change woudn’t have been on anyone’s radar.



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