Fisking the fisk

Edge posted a critique of my article for the NZ Herald so here’s my response. The original is in italics, Edge’s fisk is below, and my comments in bold.

Original article: EFB does not stop anyone saying anything anytime.

Edge: 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).

Russel’s response: So Edge agrees with the key point – EFB doesn’t stop anyone saying anything. The only counterpoint he can make is around statements of “party vote X”. This rule is along the lines of existing law and  is carried over by the EFB. The rationale is that otherwise people hostile to a party can say they are promoting the “vote party” message in way that may be damaging to the party (eg “Vote National and legalise corruption”) and if there are advertising costs involved then these need to be allocated to the party so the party needs to approve of the spending before it happens.

EFB places no restrictions on press.

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

Editorials are excluded by two provisions cl5(2)(c) and (e) (in the reported back version).  It is specifically designed to exclude editorials. Editorials inform the reader of the editors view and are of course written to be persuasive.  But they are specifically excluded. So freedom of the media is protected.

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.

Not true. They said they’d need to look at it. If it was determined that it was issue advertsising then there is no limiti to the spending. If it was determined that it was persuading people to vote or not vote for a party then there is a cap. There always has been a grey area in the law as to whether an ad is persuading a vote for a party or not – this exists in the current act. There is no way to escape drawing the line somewhere as to whether an ad is attempting to persuade people to vote for a party or not, and hence whether it comes under the party’s spending cap or not. The only way to avoid this problem is to get rid of the party spending caps.  National and Act may want this but democrats don’t as it will become a war of money. Issue ads remain unregulated.

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 persuading – even if it wasn’t the intention to do so.

The third party cap for candidate campaigning is 25% of the cap for candidates themselves.  So four people attacking a candidate could spend as much as the candidate themselves. Persuading “voters to vote” is a strong test and the EC has some discretion in the law as to how to deal with any issues. Again, any attempt to cap party spending has to make the call on whether an ad is persuading people to vote for a party or not.

Repeat, EFB only caps electioneering spending.

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

Again the test is a strong one and the EC has been interpreting similar election rules for many years now.  Are the opponents of campaign finance reform suggesting that the EC can not be trusted on these matters? Intention cannot be the test as it would make the law unworkable. The only test could be how a reasonable person would see it, and ultimately the courts will decide – as they decide with the current act.

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.

No thats not true, the provision is clear as to what is included in the maximum spending limits. An amendment was not necessary to clause 84.

84 Maximum amount of party’s total election expenses(1) Where a party is listed in the part of the ballot paper thatrelates to the party vote, the party’s electionexpenses  in respect of any regulated period must not exceed-(a) the amount of $1,000,000; and(b) the amount of $20,000 for each electoral district contestedby a candidate for the party. 

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 is responsible for the exploitation of two major loopholes in election financing law – parallel campaigning with collusion and anonymous funding through secret trusts.  Labours pledge card spending was dealt with through the Auditor general and the Appropriations legislation.  We want stronger controls on MP’s funding.  National could have helped to achieve that but opposed the Appropriations legislation for political purposes.  By failing to be constructive National has protected its ability to do something similar to the pledge card. 

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.

I complained to the Chief Electoral Officer who passed it to the police for prosecution. Police decided not to prosecute under existing laws. We need clearer laws that give stronger direction. 

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.

There is a difference – shown by National and the Exclusive Brethren in 2005 – between an explicit and an implicit ‘party vote’ campaign.  Currently the explicit party vote campaign is capped but, in practice, the implicit party vote campaign has no caps whatsoever. The Exclusive Brethren spent $1.2m saying ‘change the govt’ coordinated with the Nats saying ‘the only way to change the govt is to party vote national’.  Under this Bill everyone simply has a spending limit, which is what the Royal Commission said should happen in 1986. 

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?

See the USA.

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.

The US has failed to cap soft money. Result is legalised bribery.

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.

Not true. The HRC was concerned about the cumulative effect of the changes and agreed that by loosening the rules around thirds parties  much of that concern was allayed. “The Commission’s principal concern with the proposed legislation relates to the cumulative effect of a number of provisions…” They then said “The Commission strongly supports the following recommended changes which it believes better enhance freedom of expression and the right to participate in electoral processes…”  and then they say “Much of the Commission’s concern related to the fact that the nebulous nature of the definition of election advertisement gave rise to the possibility that publication of a wide range of material could be restricted for much of the year in the run up to the election. It was not convinced that this proposed limitation on political expression and restriction on freedom of expression could be justified.  The change to the definition that is recommended goes someway to addressing the Commission’s concerns in this regard. “

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.

I have dealt with the issues extensively. I was simply alerting people as to who was really behind the campaign. 

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.

The fact remains that after all of National’s hot air about caring for the public, given the chance to build in a participatory review of the law they opposed it. National has not once come to us to discuss any changes they want to see nor sort our support for any amendments. 

Don’t be duped.

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

Cool … my first Fisk. Every word too.

Edge, I’m sure that you are not duped. You don’t support campaign finance reform. The right and the anti-greens are winning the PR spin, as you were sure to do with the Herald backing you. But doesn’t mean I’m going to give in and let legalised bribery become established in NZ politics after a century of democrats writing rules to minimise the impact of money in politics in NZ.

35 Comments Posted

  1. Phil – I was aware that there had been claims and counterclaims that soemone had managed to delete a comment from your blog. They had each posted dozens of times on it, and that little flamewar was what was so funny.

    I had no idea you entire blog has disappeared, as I said you have not contacted me about this in any way. So please stop making yourself a victim of me.

  2. The aim is to make elections fairer.

    The solution offered is to kill a dolphin.

    I’m complaining that killing a dolphin seems to have nothing to do with the stated aims.

    Others are saying “Its better to do something, than to do nothing – just kill the damn dolphin”.

    Apparently, by stating the aims then any legislation is fine, must be accepted, because any legislation is better than doing nothing.

    I disagree. Many others disagree. There’s lots of good explanations as to why we disagree.

    Here’s a suggestion – read the bill; realise the bill is flawed, the process lacks sufficient public input and give us a chance to see good quality legislation. Don’t keep insisting it’s better we kill the damn dolphin. It wont give you the outcome you think it will.

  3. Toad,

    1) Elections should be decided on the robsitness ideas and policy, not on who has the most money to spend promoting their position or has proxy campaigners to do it for them.

    This basic principle is the reason why the Greens and Labour are taking so much stick.

    How can the robustness of a position be seen if we are not allowed to mount a public attack on it? You say you want elections to be decided on the robustness of ideas and policy, but restrict criticism.

    The bill rigs the system so that political parties can spend $millions promoting themselves – they do this by highlighting their best policies, whilst glossing over their worst. Any non-politician who wants to attack some party’s policies is restricted to $120,000. This is insufficient to mount a public debate.

    The EB mounted an attack on the Greens and Labour last election that attacked your policies. That attack failled mostly because your polices were robust enough to withstand the attack.

    By bringing in this restrictive legislation you are basically saying that your current policies cannot/willnot withstand criticism. How can we trust a political party that cannot be criticised?

    2) Funding of political parties should be transparent, so voters know who is providing significant funding to each of the political parties.

    Yes, agree. And this bill allows a quarter $million of anon funding.

  4. come off it dpf..

    on the thread where it was proven some unauthorised person went into my
    website and deleted a comment.( ‘crime’..eh..?..)
    .
    ..in which a ‘helmet’..or someone pretending to be him..eh..?..

    ..claimed they were an ‘environmental lawyer’..

    (another ‘crime’..as i understand it..)

    so..we have a crime to cover up a crime..

    (hardly hague material..i agree..but..!..)

    you..in your own words..found this..

    ..’as funny as an episode of family guy’..

    so..take your pious self-unctions..and stick em..!..eh..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  5. Just for the record I don’t know what Phil U is referring to. I can’t see any e-mail from him asking for my assistance, let alone me laughing at his situation.

  6. BJ – I’d note that the New Zealand election started well in advance too. Last week I got my first campaign brochure, letting me know about the new Labour candidate for my electorate – spending up now, it seems, to avoid the campaign spending limit kicking in on 1 January.

    Given that voting starts in January in the US, we shouldn’t be too surprised they’re already campaigning. The campaign for selection in the US is just a lot more open.

  7. Edge… since I didn’t discuss party contributions at all I don’t have to provide you with a link…. you know that the elections are mostly bought with soft-money these days… and you should also simply admit that the US is an excellent example of why the money has to be cut out of the process…. we can argue and agree on a fair number of things I think. The bill isn’t perfect in my opinion, but the alternatives look far worse to me than the bill does. My perspective is not the same as most folks here. The US election campaign started months ago. The election cycle is preposterous and the money is ludicrous.

    The bill is good enough to do the job and while it can be improved in theory, the political process limits what is possible.

    respectfully
    BJ

  8. I would like to make an apology.

    I was in the Speaker’s gallery during the voting on Part 2 of the EFB in the Committee of the Whole. Unfortunately, I did not have a copy of SOP 166 with me, and some of the voting was hurried and confused. I did not realise it at the time, but with Hansard proofs now on-line, it appears as though the amendment of Chris Finlayson to clause 84 did pass.

    I apologise for stating that the Green Party refused to support an amendment that would have clarified the party vote spending limit. They in fact did support such an amendment, and it passed unanimously.

    That having been said, this statement of yours, Russel, now seems a little odd: No thats not true, the provision is clear as to what is included in the maximum spending limits. An amendment was not necessary to clause 84.

    The Greens in fact supported the amendment. Thank you for doing so.

  9. greengeek says: “you seem to feel … we should not be subjected to advertising because we are too stupid to analyse things for ourselves.”

    what are you saying? that the millions spent on advertizing each year is utterly worthless? year after year, businesses still seem to consider it worthwhile spending the money, it would be pretty funny if they were spending on a delusion which experience never dispels.

    greengeek says: “the level of detail you are getting into simply convinces people like me that the Greens have become”

    again, what are you saying? that you would prefer to be governed by those who aren’t interested in detail, or have no grasp of details?

    greengeek says: “It is my personal view that the Greens are supporting it largely in an effort to support the Labour party and ride on it’s coat-tails, rather than because this is a bill they believe in.”

    everyone seems to forget that much of the exclusive bretheren campaign targeted the greens. given the green party didn’t exactly get into parliament with a comfortable margin, this sort of election-buying might be expected to be acutely worrisome to them. it’s their issue as much as labour’s.

  10. Sorry to hear of your loss Phil, I expect the reason is you didn’t upgrade your copy of WordPress – maybe a hosted account at wordpress.com is more suitable to your level of technical expertise rather than having your own installed version, which really requires a commitment to updating the software each time there is a new release. To get your database back, your web host should be keeping backups and they should be able to roll back or supply a backup. You may have to pay someone to restore it for you – a Google search for wordpress developer new zealand should find people.

  11. greengeek says…
    3) Some very wealthy people have become wealthy by perfectly honourable means. Such people may be intelligent, publicly-minded, and very capable of coming up with excellent and beneficial policies. I would prefer to see such people be able to spend every last dollar they possess (if they should so choose) putting their ideas forward to the public

    Is IWI/KIWI an example? Excellent and beneficial ?

  12. Toad:

    1) I definitely agree with the principle of ideas and policy being paramount in any voters decision who to elect. (There are other determinants of course, eg the personality of a candidate might be sufficient to dissuade me from electing them. But that is a more minor consideration than ideas and policy)

    2) I disagree about transparency. I don’t care who comes up with an idea, and I don’t care who funds it.

    New Zealand will be a worse place if this passes for several reasons:

    1) Fighting over who spent what is a useless distraction from real issues. The only funding debate should be about how to prevent political parties spending public money.

    2) Any restrictions on communication/free speech/advertising will stymy debate and therefore detract from the robustness of discussion that is central to developing robust ideas and policy.

    3) Some very wealthy people have become wealthy by perfectly honourable means. Such people may be intelligent, publicly-minded, and very capable of coming up with excellent and beneficial policies. I would prefer to see such people be able to spend every last dollar they possess (if they should so choose) putting their ideas forward to the public.

    4) I don’t accept that the electorate is too stupid to see through electioneering stunts. Give people the responsibility (actually it is a right) of making their own decisions about policy, and they will generally exercise that responsibility well. Take that right/opportunity away and you create a disinterested populace.

    Any population that believes that a specific electoral law will ensure a safe government is destined to let slip it’s own opportunity to control it’s destiny.

    People are smart enough to judge political parties by their actions. The Greens are currently being harshly judged (deservedly so) for theirs.

  13. Greengeek – do you disagree with the two principles I posted as the reasons the Greens are supporting the Bill?

    Why do you say New Zealand will be a worse place if it passes?

  14. toad: yes, that is true, it was an extraordinarily badly drafted bill. The problem though, is that it is also an extraordinarily badly-intentioned bill aswell.

    It is such a repulsive bill that I wish the Greens had had the sense to reject it entirely rather than try to modify it.

    It is my personal view that the Greens are supporting it largely in an effort to support the Labour party and ride on it’s coat-tails, rather than because this is a bill they believe in.

    This bill has nothing going for it. New Zealand will be a worse place if it passes. Electoral energy and robustness will actually suffer if this goes ahead.

    This is a bill that guarantees that National will form the next government. It is as plain as day.

  15. Greengeek – unfortunately, this Bill is all about detail, and the version as introduced was extraordinarily badly drafted.

    But if you want to break it down to the issues of principle, there are two:

    1) Elections should be decided on the robsitness ideas and policy, not on who has the most money to spend promoting their position or has proxy campaigners to do it for them.

    2) Funding of political parties should be transparent, so voters know who is providing significant funding to each of the political parties.

    I really don’t care if Labour is on a “hiding to nothing” – the Greens are a party of principle and will stand by those principles. If that means being seen as allied to Labour on some issues, then so be it. Hell, there have been Bills in Parliament that have been passed with only the Greens and ACT opposing them. Doesn’t mean the Greens are licking ACT’s backside though – just that there are (in ACT’s case occasional) issues we agree on.

  16. Sorry Russel, but the level of detail you are getting into simply convinces people like me that the Greens have become so focussed on electoral power that they have shackled themselves to their Labour lifeboat instead of shackling themselves to the voters like myself who want/need a truly green party to vote for.

    We have entered a time where environmental truths have become largely self-evident and your party has not grasped that yet.

    You seem to feel it is necessary to browbeat us into submission. Even to the point of making it clear we should not be subjected to advertising because we are too stupid to analyse things for ourselves.

    Again, I will make a prediction: Labour is on a hiding to nothing, the Greens votes will continue to decline unless they wake up real fast and stop licking Labour’s backside.

    It is time for you to put more effort into understanding how us middle-class voters think, and less time into fisking.

  17. Russel, you are either being deliberately dishonest or you don’t have a very good understanding of the possible consequences of the EFB as written.

  18. 1. what is fisking?

    2. placing any restriction on what people say in any format at any time is by definition an infringement on freedom of speech, there’s no point denying it. but i’d sanction this small loss in freedoms (affecting only the rather enhanced freedom of those with $$) in return for the benefits of the level playing field & better democracy, if only it could work.

    as it has been pointed out above, there are so many loopholes & other avenues for electioneering left open for the rich that it would seem impossible to achieve that level playing field without a complete repression of the press.
    the moneyed right wing can buy media & run their ads as commentary, then what are you going to do? that’s the main problem in the usa – not the paid advertizing but the fact that the airwaves are swamped with right wing commentary round the clock.
    at best this legislation will delay the inevitable before the rich-wing catch up with more advanced dirty tricks

  19. Private people, groups, exercising the puting forward of their points of view is NOT the problem and it never will be.
    Now you are promoting the restriction of this as well as taking away the option of personal protection of privacy, it is an blatant attack on the individual rights of citizens; neverminding the obvious real contradictions in it’s background of closed room backdealing and complaints of newspapers not printing weblinks specifically advertising your own articles from your political websight…
    The answer to the problem is in a completely different realm, far away from tangled webs and when who said what to who is passing for the defining of the game while society continues to devour itself.

  20. Toad.

    BTC didn’t try and buy the last election. Labour did that with OUR money. You could be correct if you said that they attempted to heavily influence the campaign against MMP though.

  21. Yes, and left a loophole large enough to drive truckloads of money through. Nigh on a hundred million uncounted dollars in soft money.

    A loophole that lets parties get lots of soft money? I’d be interested in a link. Unintended consequences, sure (more 527’s etc.), but soft money for parties?

  22. davec said: Well you are bloody stupid in your assertions if you are implying that the BRT is behind it . John Boscawen says the are not, and you fully well know that.

    And you believe him Dave? Big money that backs the National Party is funding the campaign against the EFB. They almost succeded in buying the last election, and don’t want a law that will prevent them from trying to buy the next one.

  23. and yes..i am spitting tacks/am ‘gutted’..(in a quiet/determined way..)

    so do pass the shcadenfreude-bowl to those i have ‘maligned’ ..

    ..and who are desirous of a ‘sip/sup’..

    eh..?

    but y’know..i am seeking/finding solace in the delights of the smallest/cutest ten-week old puppy you have ever seen..

    (he sits on the palm of my hand..)

    he..’bo’..(as in diddley)..sets new benchmarks in ‘cuteness/adorability..

    ..and draws large crowds wherever he goes..

    mmm!!!..puppy-smell..!!

    (mind you..dog number one..and dog number two..?

    their noses are somewhat ‘out of joint’..

    but they are ‘coming around’..(sniffs/wagging tails..etc..

    but for the moment..he..half the size of a size ten converse/’chuck’ knock-off..

    terrorises these other two…

    they are practising the (not so graceful) art of ‘strategic retreat’..

    (heh-heh..!..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  24. btw..whoar/my site has been hacked..(sat morn..)

    (only the last nine stories are there..

    nearly 13,000 stories/3 years work/creation..are ‘gone’..)

    all archives/access to whoar fm one are ‘gone’..

    and i can’t even access admin/write stories on the site..

    if anyone could help me ‘fix’ this..(if possible..)..and to help prevent it happening again..

    this would be appreciated..(021-323-077)

    (i’ve tried raising it with the (so-called) internet ‘entity’..

    but their (apparant) spokesperson(?)..(david farrar @ kiwiblog..)

    just thinks it is hilariously funny..

    that i have been hacked..(!)

    so..any suggestions as to moves i could make to get them to take this seriously..would be appreciated..

    i would also be willing to go to the police..

    (this is a ‘computer-crime’..after all..)

    (and as there was a mini-hack/comment deletion..with clear snails-trails..a week or so before this ‘big one’..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  25. shortly after the last election i wrote/predicted that one thing that national could take to the bank..

    was that clark was going to stop those rivers of (mainly ‘business’) ‘anonymous’ money..that had funded nationals’ (almost successful) ad/billboard campaigns’..

    and that national could guarantee that this would all be ‘done ‘n dusted’ by 2008..

    and since the last election..the greens and labour have colluded to knacker nationals’ funding base..

    (peters/nz first is there/supporting purely for ‘revenge’..)

    and in this..they have been successful..

    (this is the ‘story’ of the e.f.b…)

    and in achieving this..what labour/greens have done is use the tried and true political/negotiating tactic..

    of proposing something mega-mega poxy..

    ..and then ‘scaling’ it back to ‘just’ mega-poxy..

    (all the while uttering soothing words..of ‘see..we have listened to you’..)

    and y’know..?..i think the idjits believe they actually ‘fool us’..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  26. The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act 2002 didn’t just cap soft money to political parties – it banned it.

    Yes, and left a loophole large enough to drive truckloads of money through. Nigh on a hundred million uncounted dollars in soft money.

    Don’t fence with me on THIS one Edge. I’m from the USA. I participated in those elections and I KNOW what unlimited money does to elections.

    I also know exactly how the money protects its ability to continue to screw the elections and consequently the democratic process and ultimately the people who think they know what they are voting for or against. I see THAT in plain operation here, and if you would look, you’d see it too.

    As for the rest / I did warn against the more complex for of this bill. It will NEVER be straightforward and it will always be in the hands of the EC.

    But if it is a choice between this and nothing I’ll take it as it is… and hope that next time someone will LISTEN when I talk. Trouble is, I don’t have a million dollars to blow on advertisement of my opinions. Seems to be a lot of problems with the word “free” in front of the speech when it is practiced in a commercial environment.

    BJ

  27. Any moves in the direction of police state database information, ESPECIALLY in the area of free speech should be VEHEMENTLY opposed.
    If this line turns out to be crossed, those responsible should be held personally responsible by societie’s members to the same degree that they could potentially be, after a few more steps down the same road.

  28. I’m sure this could go on forever so not everything this time … but:

    So Edge agrees with the key point – EFB doesn’t stop anyone saying anything.

    If you don’t think you can say something via YouTube, then yes. But someone could look at your statement “the EFB doesn’t stop anyone saying anything” and conclude the EFB’s a whole lot less narrow than it actually is. Just because something is said on YouTube, rather than in person, does not mean it is not said.

    The only counterpoint he can make is around statements of “party vote X?.

    My use of the phrase “for example” should have alerted you to the possibility that it wasn’t the only counterpoint. I could have said it stops you spending more than $1000 opposing the election of candidate who announces at a meet the candidate meeting two weeks before the election that they support transmission gully. It stops you spending anything, on anything (e.g. leaflets or placards) opposing a party if you’ve already spent $120,000 (or already spent $12,000 and haven’t registered) opposing a different party many months earlier. Or any of those things about placards and Usenet posts needing names and addresses on them, or a bunch of other things.

    This rule is along the lines of existing law and is carried over by the EFB.

    The rule is similar to the current law except the current law regulates advertising, and the EFB instead regulates “any form of words or graphics”. Under the current law I could put a YouTube post up saying “Vote Green”, under the EFB I cannot. The rule is similar, but when combined with other changes in the EFB (especially the much broader definition of election advertisement) the effect is drastically different.

    Editorials are excluded by two provisions cl5(2)(c) and (e) (in the reported back version)

    Clause 5(2)(e) is the book exemption.

    It is specifically designed to exclude editorials. Editorials inform the reader of the editors view and are of course written to be persuasive. But they are specifically excluded. So freedom of the media is protected.

    Clause 5(2)(c) may be designed to exclude editorials, but it is far from clear that it’s successful. Yes editorials inform, but do they solely inform, enlighten or entertain? Arguably not. This is an area where is shouldn’t be arguable.

    Not true [that the Electoral Commission was of the view that the IMVDA’s Crazy Car issue advertisement would be regulated under the amended bill].

    I’m sorry, but it is true. Maybe you haven’t heard that particular quote, but there was absolutely no doubt, it’s not even close, etc. Covered. Caught. Regulated.

    Are the opponents of campaign finance reform suggesting that the EC can not be trusted on these matters?

    I don’t know. Perhaps you should ask one. I think they can be trusted. But I also thing they got the IMVDA one wrong – they’re fallible – like everyone else.

    No thats not true, the provision is clear as to what is included in the maximum spending limits.

    Let’s see. I’m a party standing in every electorate. I spend $1.6m. $1.6m exceeds $1m (cl 84(1)(a)), and it exceeds $1.4m (cl 84(1)(b)). Arguably I’ve spent more than I’m allowed.

    Labours pledge card spending was dealt with through the Auditor general and the Appropriations legislation.

    I’m not talking about the Auditor-General. I’m talking about the Electoral Act. The Auditor-General is irrelevant to electoral law. I don’t particularly care who paid for it, I care whether it was attributable as a party expense.

    Labour was told 10 days before the election that they would have to include the expense of the pledge card in their spending limit. They promised to do so. They kept spending, and went $500,000 or more over the spending limit. They reneged on the promise to include the expense of the pledge card in their expenditure return. This was a calculated and deliberate corrupt practice. Someone should have gone to prison.

    Police decided not to prosecute under existing laws. We need clearer laws that give stronger direction.

    The laws around this are not clearer. It was just as illegal before as it is now – it’s just that new things are illegal (like spending more than $120,000).

    The US has failed to cap soft money.

    The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act 2002 didn’t just cap soft money to political parties – it banned it.

    Not true [that the HRC still thinks a 90-day period should be included in the bill?].
    Please correct me if I misunderstood what the not true bit refers to.

    I can do no better than quote your quote back to you: “The change to the definition … goes someway to addressing the Commission’s concerns…”

    Someway. i.e. Not all the way. i.e. They still want 90 days, which National also wants. They also supported the third party spending limit of $300k supported by the Electoral Commission, and moved as an amendment by National, and the registration limit of $40,000.

    You don’t support campaign finance reform. The right and the anti-greens are winning the PR spin, as you were sure to do with the Herald backing you.

    Actually, I do support campaign finance reform. You may have read my submission to the select committee.

    I have been pushing for campaign finance reform for months. I just take to task those who should be on my side who are using half-truths to support the case. As I do on a large range of issues. I try to advance public debate, and if someone is using poor or inaccurate arguments to advance a cause I believe in, I’ll call them on it.

    If you think it is good that the EFB requires 16 year-olds posting their election views on an Internet forum (other than a blog) to give out their home address you should say so, and give a reason. Rather than denying or implying that the EFB doesn’t regulate X or Y or Z – when it does – you should be coming up with reasons why regulation of X is good, or arguing with the Government to change it so Y isn’t regulated. If you’re interested in advancing the critical debate, I’d be more interested in what your full-length piece (before it was cut to 200-words) read like, than just the Herald amended paragraph at the end.

  29. Russel, that was pathetic. I hope Edge does a fisk on that.
    A comment that sticks out like a sore thumb –

    We need clearer laws that give stronger direction.
    And of course the EFB that the Greens support is that clearer law that gives that stronger direction, isn`t it?

    Also,
    I was simply alerting people as to who was really behind the campaign
    Well you are bloody stupid in your assertions if you are implying that the BRT is behind it . John Boscawen says the are not, and you fully well know that.

    I could go on – and I may well do so later on today.

  30. Mouldwarp

    You are so free with your expression that one could even describe it as random, but there’s no restriction on it. None.

    The restriction is on your ability to ADVERTISE to influence an ELECTION.

    Try to get your head around the fact that money has a long and extremely unsavoury history in terms of election advertising and simply buying politicians. We call your attention to the EXTREME negative examples from the US.

    Free speech means we don’t want the right to arrest you for talking about what idiots we are. You can talk. We can talk back and before you know it everyone agrees that we all belong in an asylum… 🙂

    However, when it comes to publishing advertisements… that isn’t “free speech” of quite the same flavour. The object of the process is a fair orderly democratic election. That means to me (among other things) that I want to hear the un-spun words that the parties themselves provide. At least for a little while. I don’t like the way this bill came out, but I like it better than nothing, and it is enough better than what it started as that I support it.

    Because “nothing” lays us open to some extremely nasty consequences, not just the greens but ALL the parties.

    There’s no way to have a fair election with unlimited spending by whoever has the deepest pockets. You may imagine all the possible justifications you like but it is not POSSIBLE, and if the objective is a fair election then you can’t get there without limiting spending.

    Which you equate with limiting speech, as though the two things were the same. … but I know they’re not. No amount of speech is the same as money.

    Well maybe if I were the vice president of the National Settlements Bank of Nigeria… 😉

    Is it.

    respectfully
    BJ

  31. Mouldwarp: As far as I understand it is not restricting you freedom of speech. Just your freedom to influence other peoples votes.

  32. Utterly disgraceful.

    All your quibbling and obfuscation cannot hide the fact that you are proposing to use the force of the state to limit my freedom of expression.

    And do not consider for one moment that any worthless “protections” you deign to allow us have any value: Once the principle has been established that the state can limit our freedom of speech, any such minor provisions can be swept away at any time under the pretext of tightening up “loopholes.”

    Free speech is not a gift that we receive under licence from you and the rest of the political elite. It is ours by right. Try to get your head round the fact that you simply do not have the *right* to impose your restrictions on us, not matter how lengthy and earnest your attempted justifications.

  33. Thanks for the post, Russel. This is a really confusing issue for most people, and you’re right about supporters of election finance reform losing the message war. The right wing blogs are all over this, but there’s been precious little pushback from the left. (Where is I/S?)

    One question: Didn’t the Herald give the Greens space in its opinion pages to press the case? Why were you forced to prune so much of your argument to fit it into 200 words?

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