Another attempt to get state funding of political parties is underway:
. . .Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson wants foreign donations banned altogether, anonymous donations limited to just $1000 (it’s currently $15,000) and an overall cap of $35,000.
“At the moment big business can buy influence over our political system – there is no limit to what they can donate… At the moment, our current laws are ripe for dodgy dealing.” . . .
But without donations, political parties will have to rely on taxpayer funding to run their campaigns. Hager says this would be preferable to the status quo.
“Rather than them going off to get all sorts of slightly dodgy, slightly mildy legal but corrupt kind of ways from everyone who’s got lots of money, you just pay some public money… It’s just like we pay our police so they don’t have to collect bribes… we pay MPs so they don’t have to work on the side.”
If a politician can be bought for less than $15,000 we’ve got the wrong people as MPs.
If any politician can be bought for more than that we’ve got the wrong people as MPs.
The current law requires donations of $15,000 or more to be declared so any influence would be visible.
While many taxpayers would object to that, Hager says the cost would be a “tiny fraction of a percentage” of the “tens of billions” of dollars the Government spends every year, and worth it to ensure big business and wealthy foreigners don’t have undue influence over our politicians. . . “
If foreign donations are the problem, the law could require all donors to be citizens. It could go further and require all donors to be people and not organisations.
That would excite the unions and the parties they prop up. Matthew Hooton pointed out on RNZ yesterday it’s not just the money they contribute there’s the time and people power they put into supporting their chosen parties.
The cost of public funding of parties might be a ‘tiny fraction’ of government spending but that tiny fraction would be better spent on almost anything else the government funds or left in taxpayers’ pockets.
It’s hard enough to stomach some of the ideologically driven projects governments waste money on without expecting people to fund parties whose philosophies and policies they vehemently oppose as well.
Some parties have fewer, if any more, members than the 500 minimum required to register. Should they make it into parliament MMP gives them power well in excess of their size. Funding them as well would exacerbate the unfairness.
Parties are voluntary organisations. If they can’t attract enough volunteers and supporters to fund them, that’s their problem and not one which taxpayers ought to be forced to solve.