Brownlee’s EFA Bungle Says It All

There’s something symbolic about Gerry Brownlee’s procedural mistakes holding up the EFA repeal reading last week.

There was a bungled urgency motion followed by a fumbled adjournment motion and a reversal by the Speaker. The end result is that, after an objection by the Greens, the EFA’s second reading was delayed until today.

Where to start with unpacking the symbolism: how about the fact that the Nats’ EFA agenda was going backwards instead of forwards last week which says it all about the whole repeal plan; it’s a backwards step as Russel Norman articulated last Wednesday.

And it was the Greens who stood up in the House for what is right – a largely symbolic move in that it only delays National’s dismantling process. Much of the public has been brainwashed about the EFA’s shortcomings. Yes, the legislation is unwieldy in its current form, but yellow jackets are just not a threat to our democratic process. Enormous donations from the Exclusive Brethen are, and the EFA has addressed these serious problems.

So last week the Greens stood up for the serious, while National and Labour were busy buckling to the trivial. We’ll be criticised for resisting the Government’s urgency motion just as we’ve been criticised in the broader electoral finance reform debate. However, these issues are critical to the health of our political process. There’ll be more heat, but bring it on.

Clearly the kitchen has got too hot for Labour. They even tried to help National back into urgency last week. Apparently they want to eat all their humble pie at once…you know what happens when you eat too quickly, you get indigestion.

Lastly, the fact that the EFA’s second reading was delayed speaks to the whole question of urgency – what’s the hurry? The one thing everyone agrees on is that our election funding regime needs a lot more work. But we could easily continue under the current law until a better replacement is crafted. Unfortunately, that doesn’t fit with the political posturing at the heart of National’s hundred day hurry up which is perhaps the ultimate in symbolism; a bunch of sound and fury signifying very little.

37 thoughts on “Brownlee’s EFA Bungle Says It All

  1. Just who was buying what?

    http://www.elections.org.nz/record/donations/party-donation-returns-2007.html

    Who spent the most? Was it reflected in their results? How much did Winston First spend? Where is he now?

    >>Your simplistic answers are just not enough, nor will they win the day and for good reason.

    F-r-e-e-d-o-m of speech.

    It is very dangerous to start limiting it, especially as part of teh democratic process, so you should er on the side of extreme caution.
    The big money influence has been vastly overstated.

  2. 11 months is too long, but guess what – there will be an excluded period even if its left entirely up to Nats/Act. That’s because all but possibly Act agree that money can too easily corrupt the electoral process. Your simplistic answers are just not enough, nor will they win the day and for good reason. This is a hard question to deal with and get right because it is easy to go too far and impact free speech as well. We have to have an adult conversation about it, not just throw platitudes around. Fortunately, Simon Power seems to be genuine and is probably one of the best Nats to be running the process. I have doubts that a large group of politicians can ever balance the issues effectively, but I hope I’m wrong.

  3. >>All too well.

    A truth at the margins doesn’t legitimate you shutting people up for 11 months every three years.

    If their message resonates, that is democracy. If it doesn’t, they’ve blown their money.

  4. big bro Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    > Was Sue B “confused and biased” when she said that men who smack their kids are paedophiles

    if she had said that all men who smack their children were paedophiles, she would have been wrong, whether confused or not.

    However, it is you who are confused – either that or trying to confuse other people. What she said was that there are people getting a sado-masochistic/pedophile thrill out of beating their children, and using the idea of discipline to justify their actions. To jump from this to saying that all hitting of children is sexual is like jumping from saying that motorcycle helmets have been used to hide the identity of bankrobbers, to deducing that all motorcyclists intend to rob banks. And it was your leap of illogic, not hers.

  5. Gerrit Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    > Why do they spent billions? Because they can. It is their money!!

    Not only because they can – they could pay people billions of dollars to pray for their fortunes to improve if they thought that would work. They do it, not only because they can, but because they have good reason to believe it will influence people’s behaviour. That, I’m sure, was Valis’s point.

  6. >>which admits that advertising can be effective

    I’m not sure you’ve understood my post in the slightest.

  7. Thanks for addressing the question, BP. I agree with all you’ve said (apart from the last line of course ;-) ), which admits that advertising can be effective. That’s why just about all democracies in some way attempt to limit the amount of money spent in election campaigns, as well as ensure that what is spent and donated is done so transparently.

  8. Valis,

    A well known quote goes “half of all advertising money is wasted. I wish I knew which half!”

    “are you really arguing that advertising has no impact (at least on average people, even if not on the high minded such as yourself)? Why then is it one of the largest budget lines of every well known corporate brand?”

    For advertising to work, it must both resonate with the target audience and lead them to take a desired action.

    This is why you could spend billions on advertising the message “greens should buy Hummers” and you wouldn’t sell one. The message doesn’t resonate.

    Similar thing with political campaigns (studies show this – read Freakonomics). An adverting message is no different than any other type of message. The audience must have a very high chance of accepting and acting on it in order for it to work.

    Buy Coke is easy (product is low risk, familiar, low cost). Buy a Hummer is hard. Getting 30% voting Green in NZ would be impossible :)

  9. I guess you dont understand my replies.

    Let me spell it out. It is not my decuision, it is the boards decision to spent billions on advertising.

    Whether it is right or wrong is not for you or me to judge. Only the shareholders.

    If the shareholders wanted to have the billions returned to them as dividend’s they could, or to invest in new plant and equipement they could, or spent on adverttising, they could.

    Unless you are a shareholder, it is actually none of your business.

    Why do they spent billions? Because they can. It is their money!!

    You are the one who is showing a dense attitude.

  10. Just to be clear for the dense, I was asking BP, and now you, for YOUR opinion on why billions are spent on advertising each year and whether YOU think its worth it. Come on, you can do it.

  11. Every management team I worked for always had to meet a KPI called Shareholders Value Added (SVA)

    This measured how much the management team was adding to the value of the shareholders investment.

  12. That is for the company’s board to decide. And for the shareholders to question at general meetings PLUS will be reflected in the share price.

    If the board thinks they are wasting the money it is a pretty slack board as the budget for the year would have been approved by the board.

    Management cant spent money willy nilly. It has to be budgetted for (in a balanced budget) and that budget approved by the board.

    If you think the management team is wasting money, look at the board, they represent the shareholders.

    If the shareholders were not happy, they would not invest and the share price drop.

  13. I’ve been in management and can read a balance sheet. “One of the largest” doesn’t mean “the largest” last I checked. However you slice it, billions are spent each year on advertising. So pedantics aside, why not have a go at answering the question? Are corporate management high flyers wasting shareholder’s money?

  14. Valis

    Why then is it one of the largest budget lines of every well known corporate brand?

    I dont how many companies you have been in management for Valis, but ALL the ones I have worked for, the marketing budget was by far from being the largest.

    You ever been in management?

    Then you will know that the biggest expenditure line in the expense budget are in fact wages and salaries.

    Suggest a more strident research required on you part. Do you know how to read a balance sheet?

  15. Question time in the house today is very interesting, Sue K and the nodding heads behind her are enraged that parents are free to decided what is best for their kids.

    Their whole attitude is one of “how dare they argue with us, we know what is best for the kids of NZ”

  16. “The greeny mob on here seem to think that if you spend enough money saying something, people will fall – drone like – into line. If I spend a few million saying “greenies go live in Cuba” you all would?”

    No, hyperbole is your habit, as you ably demonstrate once again. But are you really arguing that advertising has no impact (at least on average people, even if not on the high minded such as yourself)? Why then is it one of the largest budget lines of every well known corporate brand? You think corporates and political parties who advertise are just throwing their money away?

  17. toad

    So its “confused and biased” when the outcome is not one you are happy with?

    Was Sue B “confused and biased” when she said that men who smack their kids are paedophiles or when she said that there have been zero child deaths in Sweden since they introduced a no smacking law?

  18. Valis said: Its wrong when Chavez does it, wrong when Berlusconi does it, and wrong when Rupert Murdoch does it for someone else.

    And [in fear of yet another threadjack onto THAT topic - please don't guys] wrong when Larry Baldock and his proxies do it to promote his confusing and biased referendum question.

  19. The greeny mob on here seem to think that if you spend enough money saying something, people will fall – drone like – into line. If I spend a few million saying “greenies go live in Cuba” you all would?

    Please tell me where my advertising should be spent that will guarantee that outcome. In all my years of buying media, I’ve clearly missed this sure-fire bet!

    >>you should read more, BP and write less.

    You should learn the meaning of free speech.

  20. “Yep..the EB are evil and nasty for the simple reason that they tell the truth.”

    big bro as a character witness for the EB – does he laugh as hard writing this sh*t as we do reading it?

  21. “Of course not, no doubt you would be just as laid back if Chavez was right wing?

    YEAH RIGHT”

    Oh come on, this happens all the time in both left and right led countries. Its wrong when Chavez does it, wrong when Berlusconi does it, and wrong when Rupert Murdoch does it for someone else.

  22. “Now, while I am on about evil and nasty, there is a lack of comment here about the latest little gem from our friend Mr Chavez, no screams of outrage from the left, no screams of economic sanctions or the like.
    I wonder why.”

    one minute it’s all ‘free speech free speech’ and the next it’s ‘why aren’t you saying what I think you should say?’

    the idea that unfettered advertising around elections will produce a level playing field upon which a democratic process may take place is just naive and patently, obviously false.

    the EFA was flawed, sure, but the problem here is that we are allowing the very people whom the laws will affect most to author them. as the greens have always advocated, the laws which frame our democratic system should be made through an extra-governmental process with widespread citizen involvement…

  23. john-ston – the threat wasn’t the EB per se, but their lying about who the flyer was from and of course their lies and misrepresentations of Green policy.

  24. big bro said: there is a lack of comment here about the latest little gem from our friend Mr Chavez, no screams of outrage from the left, no screams of economic sanctions

    Economic sanctions, BB! Come on, we haven’t even advocated that to any significant extent in places like Fiji where there have been military coups.

    I don’t condone the use of massive state advertising and requirements for television to air Chavez’s speeches to get the referendum result he wanted any more than I do National using the EB as proxy advertisers or Labour using Parliamentary Service resources via the pledge card to get the election results they wanted in 2005.

    But this is hardly the stuff that requires a disproportionate response like international economic sanctions.

  25. john-ston said: My vote, and most people’s votes would not be merely influenced by third party advertising and would instead be influenced by policy.

    True, but is usually not most people’s votes that decide the result of an election. It is the votes of the minority who make up their minds in the last few weeks, days or even minutes, have little interest in policy, are easily influenced by advertising, and have insufficient interest in politics to inquire whether the advertising is accurate or who is promoting it.

    The reason the EB’s anti-Green campaign was not particularly effective in 2005 was because the Greens were able to discover who was behind it and publicly expose them and their lies about Green policy before the election – but that was really just good fortune that a green Party member recognised the name authorising it as that of a member of the EB.

  26. Yep..the EB are evil and nasty for the simple reason that they tell the truth.

    Now, while I am on about evil and nasty, there is a lack of comment here about the latest little gem from our friend Mr Chavez, no screams of outrage from the left, no screams of economic sanctions or the like.

    I wonder why.

  27. Can someone please tell me how on earth the Exclusive Brethren are such a big threat to the democratic process because they sponsored some advertising? My vote, and most people’s votes would not be merely influenced by third party advertising and would instead be influenced by policy.

  28. or you could pay me to listen to you. after all it’s your right to talk at a volume commensurate with your bank balance…

  29. “If people want to make enormous donations in order to make their views heard, that’s their right”

    Valis has got a grip on it. you should read more, BP and write less.

  30. It bloody well is not what it means. The idea that free speech = $$$ is exactly what’s being debated here as in many other countries. Don’t make it sound like your position is so obvious and accepted when it is clearly not.

  31. This is what you get for forcing this turkey on us in the first place.

    >>these issues are critical to the health of our political process

    Yes, so please stop getting in the way of free speech. If people want to make enormous donations in order to make their views heard, that’s their right. That’s what freedom of speech means!

  32. …yellow jackets are just not a threat to our democratic process. Enormous donations from the Exclusive Brethen are.

    You don’t mean ‘Enormous anonymous donations…’?

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