Herald censors criticism

The New Zealand Herald has censored part of a 200 word article that the Greens were asked to submit on campaign finance reform for yesterday’s edition. It deleted the opening paragraph that was critical of the Herald’s coverage of the issue, and replaced it with its own commentary at the end of the article. The article was ironically called ‘In their own words‘.

The paragraph that the Herald deleted from the article without consent or consultation was:

“Help! Herald editorial misleading about Electoral Finance Bill (EFB). Won’t print Green articles. Only have 200 words here, excuse grammer. See www.greens.org.nz.?

The Herald then added its own commentary at the end of the article:

“Dr. Norman says the 200-word restriction limited the style of his contribution.?

Here’s the article (which was submitted within the 200 word limit):

We need campaign finance reform

Dr. Russel Norman, Green Co-leader

Help! Herald editorial misleading about Electoral Finance Bill (EFB). Won’t print Green articles. Only have 200 words here, excuse grammer. See www.greens.org.nz.

EFB does not stop anyone saying anything anytime. EFB places no restrictions on press. EFB places no restrictions on paid issue advertising.

EFB only caps advertising spending if trying to persuade people to vote for or against a party – cap at $120,000. Repeat, EFB only caps electioneering spending. EFB caps party advertising spending at $2.4m.

National responsible for EFB. National evaded party spending cap by using Exclusive Brethren for parallel ‘vote National’ anti-Green campaign. Showed loophole in existing law.

If don’t close loophole, parallel groups can spend unlimited millions in ‘party vote’ campaigning.

Result – politicians owned by those who funded their campaign, not by voters. That’s why need cap on election spending by parties and other groups. See USA for evidence – best elections money can buy.

Human Rights Commission agreed with Greens’ changes to protect freedom of speech.

Rallies against EFB organised by Business Roundtable member. BRT members made secret donations to National via secret trusts. See ‘Hollow Men’ by Nicky Hager.

National opposed Green idea of citizens’ assembly to decide campaign finance rules.

Don’t be duped.

43 thoughts on “Herald censors criticism

  1. That’s ironic, isn’t it: The Herald censors a Greens article advocating restrictions on people’s freedom of speech.

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  2. Oh the outrage….. oh the indignity of it all!

    I cannot believe that you have the hard neck to post a comment about censorship when the very bill YOU support will censor anybody who dares speak out against the govt.

    The only people attempting to “dupe” anybody is the Greens with your back room deals and support for this evil bill.

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  3. Have to disagree with you on this one. The herald is justified in not putting the greens website address within the “story”. They asked for a 200-word explanation, not an advert.
    However they should have only removed the website address.

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  4. All along many of us have suggested that had the Nat’s introduced the EFB the Greens and their left wing pals would be screaming, this was met with sanctimonious comments and (in most cases) point blank refusals to admit that they would be upset.

    This thread proves that we were right all along, the Greens (and the left in general) are not interested in free speech unless it affects them.

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  5. “This thread proves that we were right all along”

    I’d be fascinated to hear your logic behind this one BB. How does this thread prove that the Greens are not interested in free speech?

    As Russel’s opinion piece said the Greens manged to get several changes made to the bill to protect freedom of speech. You and Mouldwarp seem to arguing only for the right of big business to spend as much they want, I wouldn’t call that free speech, I’d call that paid speech.

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  6. “the bill will censor anybody who dares speak out against the govt.”

    No it won’t. There is nothing in the bill that gives the govt the right to vet the content of the adverts or leaflets that anyone may choose to run. No beaurocrats are going to be going through pamphlets and adverts with black pens before they will be allowed.

    All it does is restrict the quantity of the pamphlets and adverts, and that is not censorship.

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  7. Frog/Russel,

    EFB does not stop anyone saying anything anytime.

    I presume you mean saying orally. It certainly stops people saying things in other ways. For example, it prohibits me from posting a YouTube video of me saying “vote Green” (without permission from the Green Party).

    EFB places no restrictions on press.

    Except, perhaps editorials which do more than *solely* inform, enlighten, or entertain. Like persuade – which most editorials do.

    EFB places no restrictions on paid issue advertising.

    The Electoral Commission was of the view that the IMVDA’s Crazy Car issue advertisement would be regulated under the amended bill.

    EFB only caps advertising spending if trying to persuade people to vote for or against a party – cap at $120,000.

    Also for or against a candidate – cap at $4,000. And it’s not just persuade, also things that can reasonable be regarded as persauding – even if it wasn’t the intention to do so.

    Repeat, EFB only caps electioneering spending.

    Repeat, unless the Electoral Commission thinks you’re electioneering even if you’re not.

    EFB caps party advertising spending at $2.4m.

    Arguably, a drafting error means it’s been cut to $1.4m. The Greens opposed an amendment that would have clarified this.

    National responsible for EFB.

    The most egregious electoral breach at the last election was Labour’s calculated over-spending. National’s conduct is only to blame because National lost.

    National evaded party spending cap by using Exclusive Brethren for parallel ‘vote National’ anti-Green campaign. Showed loophole in existing law.

    A parallel ‘vote National’ campaign would have been illegal under the Electoral Act 1993. Something being illegal is hardly a loophole.

    If don’t close loophole, parallel groups can spend unlimited millions in ‘party vote’ campaigning.

    Again – the Electoral Act prohibits everyone other the Greens from running a “Vote Green” campaign.

    Result – politicians owned by those who funded their campaign, not by voters.

    I suppose this is possible. I haven’t really seen any evidence of it, though. What policy did the Green Party adopt because they were funded by Telecom?

    That’s why need cap on election spending by parties and other groups. See USA for evidence – best elections money can buy.

    The US caps donations to candidates at $2300 (2007 – it’s inflation adjusted). Donations from foreigners are banned. Donations from companies are banned. Donations from Unions are banned. I’m surprised you don’t support this.

    Human Rights Commission agreed with Greens’ changes to protect freedom of speech.

    Well yes. Everyone agreed that they made the law slightly more palatable. The HRC also supported some of National’s proposed changes (e.g. a 90 day regulated period), and still thinks that should be included in the bill.

    Rallies against EFB organised by Business Roundtable member. BRT members made secret donations to National via secret trusts. See ‘Hollow Men’ by Nicky Hager.

    Rallies against EFB attended by BRT members too. And Labour and Green supporters. Attack the idea, not the person.

    National opposed Green idea of citizens’ assembly to decide campaign finance rules.

    So did Labour, NZF, UFNZ and everyone except the Maori Party. The Greens opposed National’s idea of asking the public for their views on the substantially amended EFB.

    Don’t be duped.

    I think the above shows that you haven’t fooled me yet, frog :-)

    Cool … my first Fisk. Every word too.

    [All soo not true! My response here - Russel]
    http://blog.greens.org.nz/index.php/2007/12/10/fisking-the-fisk/

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  8. The most worrying thing- “grammer” ? I hope that was ironic spelling!

    The EFB should hopefully slow NZ’s progress towards a plutocracy. If it is possible to retain NZ as a somewhat meritocratic social democracy like the other great nations of the world, that would be a good thing.

    However NZ political history is full of the wealthiest people in society pulling dirty tricks to get their way, usually to the detriment of ordinary working kiwis.

    The bill may be flawed, but do we really want policies which affect us all, bought and paid for by those who benefit from them?

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  9. Excellent fisking Edge.

    How frustrated are the Greens that the editor used their editorial prerogative to keep the word limit to 200? Given that the Greens find it easier to issue press releases that get carried as articles, they have an advantage over people who want to get their ideas out into the arena. They also get tax payer funded money. Lots of it.

    Your “press release” Greens, appears to be nothing more than “lies and half-truths”.

    National evaded party spending cap by using Exclusive Brethren for parallel ‘vote National’ anti-Green campaign. Showed loophole in existing law.

    That’s pushing the facts to the extreme. However, we know the Unions were behind parallel campaigning too. Why not look at the complete picture Frogs? Why aren’t we able to discuss the limits, the levels, the disclosure and the loopholes that the EFB is creating? It’s being rammed through and you guys are forced to make pathetic press releases that skate around the fact this bill is a piece of junk, because you have no faith voters can make up their own minds.

    Remember, George Soros pumped in 24 million (some figures say up to 100 million) to help the Democrats win the last election in the USA. It didn’t work.

    A proper process allowing more input from the public would help create a better bill. This current process is flawed, is obviously partisan, and does not serve the public. Stop this nonsense and save whatever is left of your principles.

    Here’s just one idea from Canada you’ve ignored:

    # Corporations that carry on business in Canada, trade unions that hold bargaining rights for employees in Canada and unincorporated associations will be allowed to contribute:

    * up to $1,000* per year in aggregate to the candidates, nomination contestants and registered electoral district associations of each registered party

    * up to $1,000* per election to a candidate who is not endorsed by a registered party

    Question: If 30,000 people each contribute $5 to pay for nationwide advertising for a 9 month media campaign about an issue dear to them in an election year (a) can they spend the full amount? (b) will $150,000 be enough anyway? Answers: No, and quite probably not. The electoral Commission suggested $300K would be a fairer limit, given the current cost of advertising.

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  10. The bill may be flawed,

    Err, yes. Do we really want flawed legislation in response to sensationalist claims (money buys elections – ACT spent more than anyone and barely got in.) that doesn’t fairly address the issues and is merely assumed to be adequate but detailed analysis finds many flaws and contentious solutions?

    I want the opportunity to have this bill debated properly in an open and transparent way. The public are not getting this. We have no opportunity to make submissions on the revised EFB. Over 150 changes put forward, and apparently, the substance of the bill markedly changed (I think most people now agree the first effort was abysmal). So if this is the version we should have got first time round (MP incompetence or partisianship – take your pick – should not be an excuse for preventing public submissions.

    The public have not had a real opportunity to make submissions. The first round was simply to point out how bad an effort the first draft was.

    I am not pro-National, I’m pro-voter.

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  11. If “National responsible for EFB. National evaded party spending cap by using Exclusive Brethren for parallel ‘vote National’ anti-Green campaign.” then Labour is equally responsible. Labour evaded spending cap by using EMU for parallel ‘vote Labour’ anti-National campaign. Of course, the EMU leaflet was a cheap black and white A4 staff noticeboard pin-up. And probably cost much less than $120,000. So the EFB might stop the EB trying to buy the next election for National with bs but it won’t stop the EMU from doing the same for Labour.

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  12. Zen

    I pointed you at how money buys elections. You remember? Swift boats? You asked and I answered… how QUICKLY you guys forget things you don’t want to know. Soros was responding to money on the other side… but too late as the lies had already been circulated.

    Now the Herald ASKED for a reply in answer to multiple pages of distortions that they have provided their readers. Two hundred words is a standard letter to the editor, and believe me, it is shorter than most simple issues require.

    Russell didn’t do well with it, and while I am quite good at brevity, but there’s no excuse for cutting the website out and there was a LOT to say. Full story here: http://www….

    It isn’t exactly uncommon.

    What this means that we are once again on the receiving end of a massively funded negative campaign AND prevented from getting our message out even in rebuttal. Which is EXACTLY why we need this bill, flawed or not.

    I am tired of people lying about this party.

    —————-

    Except, perhaps editorials which do more than *solely* inform, enlighten, or entertain. Like persuade – which most editorials do.

    Which is GODDAM IT exactly why it is prohibited. Or are we to permit the press to spend unlimited column inches of space persuading the world that THEIR favored candidates should govern? Simply because they own the presses? Have you any sense of what is being done or are you completely owned by big money yourself?

    ——————-

    The US caps donations to candidates at $2300 (2007 – it’s inflation adjusted). Donations from foreigners are banned. Donations from companies are banned. Donations from Unions are banned. I’m surprised you don’t support this.

    You clearly haven’t actually experienced the US electoral nightmare if you think that these caps makes a difference to the spenders. Had you paid actual attention to what happens in the elections there, you’d know that big money managed to make the soft money loopholes even bigger. That while the formal caps exist, the soft money OWNS the elections and the candidates. Swift-Boating turned into a verb in the last election… twenty two million US $ of lies not touched by the caps.

    ———-

    This is not the bill the way I would have had it. It is not however, as bad as you make it out to be, and it is certainly not as bad as the Herald makes it out to be. The problems with it now are definitional with respect to the electoral commission , and the length, but this is better than nothing.

    … and the egregious manner in which the media mogul smacks down the party that dares to challenge it should be telling YOU something about who wields the whip around here. It isn’t the green party. The Business Roundtable and the Herald are doing the big money thing just EXACTLY the way they always do. The lying and the suppression of this party is already beginning and the election has not even started yet.

    Do you understand why we might want a law to tell them to shut the fnck up?

    Given what they do to us? Every election?

    BJ

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  13. Which is GODDAM IT exactly why it is prohibited. Or are we to permit the press to spend unlimited column inches of space persuading the world that THEIR favored candidates should govern? Simply because they own the presses? Have you any sense of what is being done or are you completely owned by big money yourself?

    BJ – I wasn’t saying whether it was good or bad. I was asking whether it was accurate.

    Russel has said that editorials are unregulated. You say they are regulated and that that is good. Are you right, or is Russel? You can’t both be.

    I didn’t use my post to make out that the bill was bad at all. I used my comment to point out the inaccuracies in Russel’s claims.

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  14. I think comments that the EFB are being “rammed through” are pretty disingenuous. As I understand it this is relatively normal committee procedure for a bill, it’s just that the bill isn’t being given special treatment when it does merit it. I agree with you that ordinary citizens need a lot more weight, and political parties a lot less, in discussions about the very fabric of our democracy in New Zealand. But laws for that aren’t in place, so we will have to make do with what we can get. If you are unhappy with any part of the EFB, I strongly recommend you write to the supporting parties and tell them that it will influence your vote at the next election, and give them specifics about what you are unhappy about. You don’t need to be allowed onto or before the committee to influence the process.

    That said, I fully support the campaigning caps and caps on third-party electioneering that the EFB proposes, even though free speech is pretty much a universal trump card for me in political issues.

    Why? Because electioneering is not political “speech”. It doesn’t say anything about politics, it says something about parties. Electioneering is never “grass-roots”. It is not an individual right. I don’t want to see millions of “vote Party X” billboards or advertisements. I don’t want to see attacks on candidates or parties. None of these things are “free speech.” They’re not even logical claims. They’re slogans and spin. We have enough of that as it is, and you want to allow unlimited support by groups and people other than political parties for this rubbish just because someone drops the term “free speech” without really understanding what it means? I’m frankly shocked.

    I want to hear about policies. I want to hear from third-party groups about how we’re overfishing, or about what they think of the EFB, or about violence against children, or about the economy. That sort of speech is useful information for voters and most definitely protected speech, and it is still unregulated so long as it doesn’t accompany electioneering. As far as I’m concerned, this bill not only protects free speech, it advantages parties who can inspire it in other parts of our society.

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  15. Yikes! Reading all of this, it’s clearly apparent that the Greens are cracking under the pressure. The Greens’ statement in the Herald and the subsequent press release are pretty bizarre. It seems that the Greens have painted themselves into a corner on this one and haven’t got the political principle to get themselves out. The contradictions of supporting such backward and silly legislation is clearly taking its toll on the leadership.

    And what is interesting (but not really surprising) is that so few Green Party members are willing to participate on this blog, or elsewhere, to defend the EFB. Where are the supposed 4000 members on this? Their absence probably speaks volume about the divorce between the Green leadership and membership on this huge issue.

    Bryce
    http://www.liberation.org.nz

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  16. Ari –
    The problem is that a group like the Sensible Sentencing Trust which does exactly what you say you want – take a stance on a specific issue and inform you about it; won’t even be able to issue a single pamphlet in election year.

    Go dig up their costing of a single pamphlet to get their view out – $135,000.

    This bill is all about silencing non-party voices. If $120,000 is sufficient to get policies and views out; why do the parties still get $2,400,000…?

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  17. PS – Graham; Would be good if you could send the Fisking to the Herald as a response to the editorial response?

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  18. Edge

    I am not sure why Russell didn’t manage the response as well as usual. I know how I write such things AND how difficult it is, but I know he can do better than “help” … typically it takes a GREAT deal of effort to compress things down into 200 words – figure 2 days to craft an effective response. Such a response has to rely on the reader as well. The information content is compressed. Maybe he didn’t have the 2 days to spare, I know I don’t . Given the amount of space the Herald has spent on the attack, to limit the defense to 200 words is criminal… but they’re the ones who own the presses and the ink.

    Which is basically the point here. It isn’t the bill the way I asked for it, and as a result there are still issues about what the electoral commission will do with each instance of spending it examines…. but the people who run the Herald and the people who own the roundtable, and the people who have agendas that include castrating the Green party…. all of them can outspend us if there is no bill.

    Bryce – participation by green members here is largely a function of time and most of us have better things to do than correct the misconceptions, misinformation and outright lies presented here by our “guests”. I come here because I enjoy putting the sword to the putrid heart of a lie… most greens are less willing to engage in such argument. There are NEVER more than a few greens here at any given time, so your argument about our 4000 members is just smoke. How many members of ANY party go to the effort to participate in a blog?

    The contradictions are not real… they are largely now inventions of the Herald.

    Which continues its savage attack.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  19. Ari – I agree it’s not being rammed through. However, with a bill such as this, a little more debate would be have been good. Many very important clauses just haven’t been discussed because the Government has moved to shut down debate so quickly.

    Labour called for the end of the debate on the first part after 9 National speeches. National ultimately got 11 5 minute calls. No-one repeated anyone else or was wasting time not discussing relevant parts of the bill and no-one got to discuss the newspaper exemption, or the definition of party advertisement, or a number of the sub-definitions of publish, or eligibility to register as a third party or … or … etc.

    And no-one defended these sections either. Why is the word ‘solely’ in the newspaper exemption? We don’t know, and the only place to argue about it now is the Courts. The debate was perfunctory, and this (voting to close of discussion incredibly quickly) was supported by the Greens – who would discuss broad policy, but – like Labour – didn’t respond to any of the clause-specific attacks National made on the bill.

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  20. bjchip:
    the people who have agendas that include castrating the Green party

    Cheese and crackers, bjchip, who’s jumping at shadows and getting hysterical now?

    I suspect John Howard would have liked a legislative instrument to nobble unions, environmental and other social justice groups who (in many cases) ran campaigns that would have fallen well outside the bound of the EFB as it stands; as well as those pesky corporate fascists who would insist on printing critical editorials and op-eds, and politically inconvenient reportage on a daily basis. And the editorial endorsements – if my memory serves, the Murdoch-owned (!) Sydney Daily Telegraph ran a front-page editorial ENDORSING THE ALP FOR THE FIRST TIME IN IT’S HISTORY!

    Or do you only have a problem with the ‘corporate media’ when its not saying what you want to hear?

    While I have my issues with the Australian media, I’m pretty glad no government has a legislative instrument to (as you so eloquently put it upthread) “tell them to shut the fnck up”. The problem with attitudes like that is that THEM so quickly becomes US, doesn’t it?

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  21. iiq374 said: …a group like the Sensible Sentencing Trust which does exactly what you say you want – take a stance on a specific issue and inform you about it; won’t even be able to issue a single pamphlet in election year.

    iiq374 – you are just plain wrong. You’ve bought the spin from the National Party and its friends at the NZ Herald, rather than actually rad the Bill as reported back.

    The original Bill as introduced could have been interpreted that way. Thanks to the Greens, the Bill has been amended so that interpretation is no longer possible. Sensible Sentencing Trust will be able to issue as many pamphlets they like about their issues, as long as they don’t say things like “Vote ACT or NZ First to get violent criminals put away for longer prison terms”. If they simply advocate the issue, rather than promote a voting pattern, they will be okay.

    As for the misinformation in the NZ Herald, I see it has continued today. Lincoln Tan, who I normally consider to be reasonably well researched, writes: “Organising the march in 2004 was straightforward but should the Electoral Finance Bill become law, organising the same rally next year would border on the impossible.”

    This is just plain rubbish. Organising a march doesn’t get caught by the Bill at all – what does get caught by the spending limits and third party campaign registration requirements is what is published, and then only if it suggests how people should vote.

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  22. Edge said: However, with a bill such as this, a little more debate would be have been good. Many very important clauses just haven’t been discussed because the Government has moved to shut down debate so quickly.

    Blame NZ First – they are the party that insisted on it being passed in time for a 1 January 2008 commencement.

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  23. Toad,

    Is that the same NZ First party who are still to pay back their overspend from the last election?

    Blaming a corrupt political coallition partner is a bit rich!

    Is the Greens policy then to have the 11 months prior to an election covered or what?

    If it is Yes then stop blaming NZ First for putting you in that position.

    If it is No then vote against that particular section of the bill.

    Simple really.

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  24. Was that article what was seriously intended for publication? The only difference between that and the indecipherable messages I get from the kids via cellphone text messaging is the length and there are a few more vowels… Ye gads…

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  25. Yep, it is Gerrit.

    Ideally, the period should run from the start of the year in which the election is scheduled to stop parties avoiding the spending cap by doing their election advertising early (remember the National Iwi-Kiwi billboards – they were outside the election period so not caught by the spending cap).

    But I understand the Greens would have been prepared for it to come into force a bit later for the next election to allow some more consultation on the Bill – NZ First wouldn’t. Voting against the commencement date would not ensure there would be any more consultation.

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  26. Personally I think the 1 January business sucks.
    My preferred solution to the problem of determining when the election campaign begins, is to have FIXED ELECTION DATES. i.e. the term of parliament being three years, then the election will fall on the third anniversary (give or take a week or two) of the previous election. Barring the failure of a government to obtain confidence or supply.

    What’s so hard about that? The current system is outrageously undemocratic. It gives a huge and indefensible advantage to the incumbent, and it must end.

    Then it becomes perfectly straightforward to regulate electoral spending for the (for example) 5 or 6 months before the election.

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  27. Bryce you asked for it here it is. I support this Bill. Yes there a bits of it that need ironed out and clarified.Yes I would prefer a wider consultative approach had be taken with more community involvement. Not consultation with stakeholders but substantive input and direct from members of our society provide with the best research on the issues that our countries academics can provide.

    This might have been asking for to much. Earlier this year I attended a consultation meeting in the Dunedin Police station about the review of the Police Act. This was an interesting event. The Dunedin police were amazed at the turnout – maybe 20 -30 people as attendances at meetings around the country were shockingly low. I think from memory 1 person at Wellington. One could be cynical and say it was in the police interest not to attract wide participation form the public. Or one could be realistic and say that this, taken in addition with poor participation in local body elections this year is an indicator that Kiwis are currently rather apathetic when it comes to governance.

    If there had been wide citizen consultation at the start of this year or during 2006 that was advertised but not controversial would you have attended. Be honest. Would you have given up an evening on which your favourite TV programme was on. Or taken time out when you should have been studying, or working? How many of your fellow citizens would have done so? I can’t think of many that are not party members that would not have.

    No the bill is not perfect but in my view a lot of legislation is not. So I adopt a pragmatic approach and say this legislation is better, in my mind, than what went before so I will support it.

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  28. Yes people are apathetic, but a few *thousand* (at the very most) of people have taken time out to protest on the streets, what about that?

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  29. Given that we now know 80,000 were telespammed to encourage them to attend, I’m actually surprised how few were on the march.

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  30. Toad,

    “But I understand the Greens would have been prepared for it to come into force a bit later for the next election to allow some more consultation on the Bill”

    By that reasoning you had better hope for a National victory at the next election (they “promise” to repeal the whole EFB bill).

    Labour has not planned to have reviews in the bill for any future elections so what ever the Greens agree to over the next few days is there for ever.

    No negitiation, unless it is like the MMP review – in name only but no substance.

    Yet another reason for the Greens not to support this bill.

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  31. No, Gerrit. After the changes the Greens have brokered, I largely support the Bill.

    It is certainly more democratic than the regime we have at the moment, under which campaign funds are laundered through secret trusts with the Parties but not the public knowing who donated them and the spending cap subverted by unlimited “third party” campaigning on behalf of (or against)parties.

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  32. Toad,

    Democratic or not, you implied that there was a review due after the bill had been passed where you could influence the time frame for electioneering.

    I’m saying that review is never going to happen and that your quote “But I understand the Greens would have been prepared for it to come into force a bit later for the next election to allow some more consultation on the Bill” is totally without foundation.

    There will be no review, you will not be able to influence the electioneering time.

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding you in that by “next election” you mean the 2011 one.

    If you mean the 2008 one you will not have any influence at all on changing the electioneering time frame, but you could show displeasure by nor voting for that section of the bill.

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  33. Not PC has responded to Russell Norman’s whinging:

    MEMO: To Greens’ co-leader Russel Norman

    Now green supporters, head over there or just try to rebut the points PC has put forward ie, the difference between free choice (NZ Herald) and censorship. C’mon greenies, use logic and reason this time to rebut PC’s points.

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  34. “We welcome letters to the editor.

    If you would like to submit a letter for possible publication in the print edition of the New Zealand Herald or Herald on Sunday, you can use the email form below.

    You can be in to win a new Cross pen in a weekly draw just by submitting a letter to the Herald on Sunday.

    Currently, letters to the editor are not published on the New Zealand Herald website.

    Letters are not normally acknowledged and may be edited, abridged or discarded. ”

    Source: http://info.nzherald.co.nz/letters/

    I’m not sure what the fuss is about. The greens sent this to the herald knowing editorial policy which is not only on the website but also on hardcopy herald.

    Your freedom of speech does not impose an obligation for others to publish your views, it merely prevents others from preventing your from publishing your views.

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  35. From Kiwiblog:

    Dr Edwards said critics were correct that business had a strong influence on New Zealand politics. But he said its influence came mainly from the need for any Government to maintain “business confidence? in a capitalist economy.

    “That’s where the political leverage of the wealthy is exerted – not in donations, which are utterly insignificant in comparison,? he said.

    [The government could be motivated to take the easy route here rather than a harder option which affects a lot of people. Eg immigration: we are told that we need more people. This is good for the building industry but issues of who pays for extra electricity capacity, effect on house prices, communities, ambience etc seem to be over looked. Another example relates to alchohol advertising.]

    He said there was no clear relationship between party spending and votes. For example, Act spent more than any other party except Labour and National at the last election ($1.4 million), yet received only 1 per cent of the vote, while the Alliance gained its highest vote (18 per cent) in 1993 when it spent only $500,000.

    On the other hand, the weight of taxpayer funding of parties in Parliament now gave a huge advantage to incumbents.

    Dr Edwards said the parliamentary funding should be much more tightly controlled to make sure it was only used for parliamentary duties, but controls on donations from supporters should be loosened.

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  36. MikeE, I would have thought it courteous to not misrepresent a persons or organisations views that were explicitly solicited. “The Weekend Herald invited eight party figures to explain their position on the bill.”[1] Furthermore I would have thought it good journalistic practise to report the truth. This does not obvious include reporting truths that do not show your publication in a good light. Yes the Herald, as do most newspapers, reserves the right to edit and abridge their letters to the editor. I have no argument against that. But by misrepresenting the Green Parties statement they show the need for bill. Furthermore this shows the need for media to be caught under the bill, the same as any other party should be, if they stray from reporting facts and start campaigning for or against a party.

    I am disappointed that there has not been more informed discussion about where to draw the line in the conflict between free and fair elections and free speech.

    [1] Electoral Finance Bill: In their own words, Audrey Young, NZ Herald Online ed.

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  37. MikeE : Your freedom of speech does not impose an obligation for others to publish your views, it merely prevents others from preventing you from publishing your views.

    Touché Mike E. Right on the button. I still can’t work out why the Greens fail to see that this bill is trying to prevent others from validly publishing their particular views. Simply put, this bill is against free speech, and pro censorship. How then can the Greens complain about the censorship of their 200 words??

    I also don’t understand why the Greens have so much to fear from true free speech (paid or otherwise).

    It just doesn’t matter how much paid advertising is thrust under our noses, we all still have one vote, and with very few exceptions we all have enough brainpower to see through the self-serving machinations of rich people who choose to advertise/persuade/mislead.

    Or do we?

    Are the Greens afraid that their voters lack the brainpower to analyze issues independently?

    I just don’t believe that this is the case. I believe that truly Green voters have no trouble whatsoever seeing through electioneering in any form.

    It doesn’t matter how many millions are spent during an election (unless it is public money being spent), there are still more poor people than rich in our society, therefore it is pretty easy for the electorate to ensure that the rich don’t have control of the country for too long. That is one of the great checks and balances our democracy allows.

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  38. jh, Yes questions should be asked about the impact of funding on peoples voting choices. Dr Edwards cites some good evidence from recent New Zealand context about the lack of impact. The examples given are based on aggregate party funding. This is then applied by some opponents of the bill to issue based spending. I do not think there is a clear link there. Additionally, this approach takes no account of the different perspectives of different generations and backgrounds of voters.

    He also writes about that policy platform has more of an impact than advertising. Sure you can make a really good argument about that. I would contend that voters that take the trouble to inform themselves about party policy will not be swayed much by advertising. However those that only take what information is pushed upon them via media and paid advertising are affected much more strongly by advertising as it makes up a bigger proportion of their knowledge of parties positions. And that section of the community that do not watch the news or read the paper. Well most/all of their information will come from paid speech.

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  39. Mike E.

    If a Newspaper INVITES me to respond to its 4-5 full pages of pathological misrepresentation and reprehensible prevarication I really DO expect to have more than 200 words to do it.

    I probably could do it in 200 words, but the number of people who could read it properly drops inversely to the information density. In all likelihood I would leave some things out and hammer one or two falsehoods into their unconsciousness. Maybe. Only their proctologist would know for sure if it reached that deep.

    They give more column inches to the fncking horoscopes for crissakes.

    ————————

    JH

    The issue of money is vexed by the nature of the different sorts of spending and money. The Greens were hammered in the last election by a campaign run by EB that resembled in most ways, the “swift-boating” of Kerry in the last US Presidential run. We know what that did to his campaign. He would very likely have won if it weren’t for 20 million dollars worth of lies funded by the soft money campaigners. He also very likely would have won if the voting in Ohio had been honest. Neither was the case and big money had its say in that election at several levels.

    It is very hard to counteract a 20 million dollar lie, for as Twain observed

    “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

    We were lucky in the last election… it didn’t work, and partly because the ground has not been prepared properly. The education system has not been completely dismantled, and many ordinary citizens still enjoy reading. Partly because the EB were a bit less competent than the Rove organization. I wouldn’t put that success down to anything but practice. They’ll do it better next time unless the law is changed.

    Anyone who’s been paying attention might have noticed that my version doesn’t adhere to the orthodoxy… or the way the bill is currently. I can accept what the bill is, but I personally would prefer a 45-90 day period just before the vote, in which the cap for everyone not running, for non-party electioneering would be ZERO. In other words, a period in which the party itself is the only voice of the party. That’s my first proposal, my second is that the election date be somewhat randomized. Get elected and you have at least a year before the next election and on average 3 or so, but the party in power doesn’t get to pick the date… it comes out of a hat. Gets drawn from the hat every day and when the clock actually starts is not known by ANYONE in advance.

    No party would then feel particularly secure about doing something the citizens disapprove of …. the election could start the next day and they’d be in deepest poo.

    Yeahh… well that didn’t get into the mix either, and I am not real happy about how things are but I am happier than if nothing were being done. I’ve seen the effects of money on elections.

    So yes Bryce… I support THIS bill even if it isn’t my favourite sort of sausage. I reckon it was made from some diseased pig and it certainly needed some extra cooking before I could stomach it (and could do with more yet) but I will take it as it is.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  40. If a Newspaper INVITES me to respond to its 4-5 full pages of pathological misrepresentation and reprehensible prevarication I really DO expect to have more than 200 words to do it.

    Yeah, and if your ‘tude on this thread is typical of how the Greens interact with the media nowadays, I’m rather surprised that they’re not INVITED to get lost and stay lost in every newsroom in the country. And having worked as a journalist and a political activist, I really DO expect to have to conform to editorial norms, and not getting so bloody precious when it turns out my deathless prose isn’t treated like the Ten Commandments fresh from the top of Mount Sinai.

    One might also think a party with a strong focus on social justice and human rights issues would be a little more careful about how they throw around words like ‘censorship’.

    If Russel Norman feels he has been treated unfairly, he has the same recourse to the Press Council as anyone else – no more, but certainly no less.

    You don’t approve of the editorial line the NZ Herald takes on the EFB. Tough, I don’t like the left-leaning editorial stances all kinds of media outlets take on all kinds of issues every day of the week. A free press is irritating that way. Deal with it.

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  41. Gee Craig… Letters to the Editor aren’t by invitation. Any idiot can write one… it takes a bit more than that to write something good enough to get published. So if the Newspaper invites us to respond to their position in our formal persona as a party, I don’t expect this response to be governed by the normal rules for letters to the editor. It is INSULTING.

    Put the shoe on the other foot. National asked to respond to pages and pages of criticism, but being restricted as though they were a private citizen writing a letter?

    Oh.. that never happened? I wonder why. The unequal treatment of the Green party in the media is way past a joke Craig, and if I appear to have a ‘tude regarding their slanders it’s because they deserve it. Isn’t just the Herald.. the Dom Post does the same thing… as do 90% of all the radio presenters. Hell, if we don’t say something they invent something… and they have done so often enough to justify annoyance. I recall Jefferson was also given to writing nastily about the press. Its not as though it is a new problem.

    Deal with it? Like Kerry dealt with Swift-Boating? You don’t win p!ssing contests with folks who buy their ink in railroad tank cars and I would never start in on them in the forum they own so thoroughly. That said, Russel blew a golden opportunity. Two hundred words they have to publish ( well almost)?

    So I didn’t expect to see the sort of “deathless prose” that Russel provided coming out of our office… I would have honed a 200 word knife to sink into the putrid heart of the lies. It might even win the day, but in a week that small victory would be submerged under a river of ink.

    It isn’t the editorial line but misstatements outside the editorials. The things people trust to be factual aren’t. . . and things INSIDE the editorials that can only be characterized as “made up sh!t” which have precious little to do with the Green Party or its policies. Opinion is fine. Lies however, do not inspire me to mercy. As for “left leaning” editorial stances, there are precious few of them in the major daily newspapers or on radio. Some of the glossy mags may tend left of center and some of the news on the tube… except that that is so bereft of content that it is hard to say it leans anywhere except toward being more entertaining than informative.

    My preferred policy would be simpler and for a shorter period, much more clearly defined. ONLY the parties speak for the xx days before the election, and no party knows until xx + 1 days ahead, when that election will be held.

    Note that we aren’t using 3 digits there but the cap on spending is zero. Nobody gets to play games. The signal to noise ratio relating to party policies is vastly improved and no politician can afford to feel comfortably secure in their position…. not ever.

    I didn’t get what I wanted. I’ll take this bill as currently offered… because the alternatives are worse. As for my ‘tude. I write for my audience. If I write for the Dom Post or the Herald I don’t display it cause they have a right not to publish anything they don’t like in their letters… but 200 words they’re honor bound to publish? In my own words??? I’d enjoy slipping a slow poison into the ink. Maybe I could get the impression to last more than a day.

    respectfully
    BJ

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