OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Boarding the funeral barge

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  • Lyndon Hood,

    Craig, I just though I'd say I'm appreciating your various efforts to render then internet sensible.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng,

    Craig, I just though I'd say I'm appreciating your various efforts to render then internet sensible.

    Aye, I second that. No worries, Craig.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 543 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    and encouraging people to vote for candidates who feel the same

    With that, it is an election advertisement.

    And I am more than happy with that. If you want to run a huge million dollar campaign arguing for a 63% tax rate on business and outlining all the lovely reasons why it's such a great idea then you can. If you slap "oh and vote Labour coz they agree with me" on the end of that then you have just written an ad for a political party, a party that has existing spending limits on advertising for itself.
    I imagine the grey area is in stating the voting record and stated policy of all political parties on the end of that. I like to think as long as it was neutral and fact based that would not be considered electioneering.


    I like to think we'll see a future election environment where all sorts of interest groups run huge campaigns stating their arguments - and political parties and their associates then run campaigns outlining their views on those issues. When their views line up with an issues-based campaign that you agreed with, you have a voting preference.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    I like to think we'll see a future election environment where all sorts of interest groups run huge campaigns stating their arguments - and political parties and their associates then run campaigns outlining their views on those issues. When their views line up with an issues-based campaign that you agreed with, you have a voting preference.

    This may be a grey are too.

    If National comes out with a policy to raise the threshold on the 19.5% tax rate to $50,000 and cut the top tax rate to 33%, and someone pays for newspaper ads that say: "New Zealand should raise the threshold on the 19.5% tax rate to $50,000 and cut the top tax rate to 33%" one week before the election, but without mentioning National, or voting or the election, is it an issue ad, or can it reasonably be regarded as encouraging someone to vote for National?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    I hate to say it, as I see the loophole, but that to me is an issue ad. All proponents of the bill have stated their intent to place no limit on freedom of speech - to state your position on a issue, even if it aligns directly with (and was probably cut and pasted from) a political parties view is freedom of speech.

    And I believe that sort of ad is not what this law is trying to stop, it really is more about stopping the more blatant "don't vote for the Greens cause they said this, National is the only group looking to..." etc etc


    While that is all my "lovely politico-fairy land" view on things, I'll need to leave actual interpretation of the legislation in your lap...

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    Good idea Keith.

    Every New Zealander will have one last reminder on how to most appropriately thank Labour for their EFA come November, as we stand in line 10x as long waiting patiently to fill in a ballot with a 100 new "parties". The recounts looking at spoiled ballots, the additional "party" observers crowding the room, heck even the inevitable Green protest at the waste of paper...

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    And I am more than happy with that. If you want to run a huge million dollar campaign arguing for a 63% tax rate on business and outlining all the lovely reasons why it's such a great idea then you can. If you slap "oh and vote Labour coz they agree with me" on the end of that then you have just written an ad for a political party, a party that has existing spending limits on advertising for itself.

    This has to be covered if you're serious about limiting electoral finance. I don't know how, or if the current Act helps (I really lost track about 5 "this is annoying and boring!"s ago).

    Otherwise you'll have National spending their 2 million dollars, and the "Coalition of people who say exactly the same things as National but never actually say 'Vote National', but who use the same branding and images of party leaders etc" spending their 20 million. Or whatever. You might as well not limit electoral finance at all.

    There's a whole West Wing episode about 'soft money'. And if it was on West Wing it must be accurate!

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Otherwise you'll have National spending their 2 million dollars, and the "Coalition of people who say exactly the same things as National but never actually say 'Vote National', but who use the same branding and images of party leaders etc" spending their 20 million. Or whatever. You might as well not limit electoral finance at all.

    There is a reasonableness test though - again I may be dreaming, but to say the exact same things as National should be fine, to use their brand and images absolutely not (that's an express intent).
    As I said I see the loophole but to broadly proclaim that you hold policy beliefs that happen to be the same as any political party is freedom of speech - to encourage voting for a particular party is electioneering.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Jan Farr (Old),

    I am at a complete loss to understand what all the fuss is about. $120,000 is quite a lot of money - in my humble opinion - and if I had it I certainly wouldn't waste it on political advertising. But if I wanted to waste it I think that, with a whole $120,000, I could say quite a lot about who I think we should all vote for. And then with my other couple of million I could just get on with talking about policies - which I thought was the whole point of democracy anyway.

    Carterton • Since Apr 2007 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And I am more than happy with that. If you want to run a huge million dollar campaign arguing for a 63% tax rate on business and outlining all the lovely reasons why it's such a great idea then you can. If you slap "oh and vote Labour coz they agree with me" on the end of that then you have just written an ad for a political party

    Really, I'd rather see (for the sake of argument) the EMPU running that kind of campaign with their own resources explicitly, rather than the too cute for words semantic two-step the unions trot out every election cycle.

    And for the record, the only way the EMPU is going to influence my vote is if Andrew Little agrees to role-play Mellors to my Constance Chatterly. Which would constitue a corrupt practice, just not in the sense intended by the Electoral Act.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    Can I also point out..... just as Keith and Russell have mentioned it 's Boscawen's championing thats pushed them over the edge....... that is in fact an argument that such legislation might not be needed...

    Provided there is proper and adequate identification of the parties doing the spending.... does there really need to be a limit? When you see how much something is being shoved down your throat, nearly everyone turns against it...

    Boscawen himself has made a point of saying "I've spent $$$$ so far".... and obviously most people paying to publicise their view wont be doing that.... but you can make a rough guess just from how many and how large the adds are... how frequently the pamphlets arrive in your letter box...

    I think past a certain point, more spending is probably counter-productive and will turn more against you than it gains.... People have an inherent distrust of being told what to think.

    Obviously this relies on reasonable reporting/identification of the people or bodies doing the spending, and maybe thats too much to expect?

    It's arguably the attempt to hide their identity that was the Brethren's crime, not the fact they wanted to spend the money in the first place.

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 893 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    And for the record, the only way the EMPU is going to influence my vote is if Andrew Little agrees to role-play Mellors to my Constance Chatterly. Which would constitue a corrupt practice, just not in the sense intended by the Electoral Act.

    Tell me you're never, ever leaving us, Craig.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Really, I'd rather see (for the sake of argument) the EMPU running that kind of campaign with their own resources explicitly, rather than the too cute for words semantic two-step the unions trot out every election cycle.

    I'm not sure I know that dance - I'm sure I'd recognise it if I saw it, but I'm not sure I know the steps you are smokily referring to ...

    I'd certainly love all political parties (and perhaps more exactly their hyperbolic hangers-on) to state things bluntly - but that's well into dreamland.
    At the very least I hope the EFB may encourage some separation of issue from party - making some of the issues-based advertisments a little less politically-murky

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Julie Fairey,

    I had one of those "Yeah so?" conversations yesterday about the EFA. The person I was gently arguing with* kept putting up arguments against the EFA which had
    a) been addressed in the amendments or
    b) weren't different from the situation under the old law from what I understood or
    c) weren't anything that I would have thought a democratic patriot (gag) would have a problem with.

    I kept saying things like "yes you will still be able to do that, just not anonymously" and his response was generally "but that's not good enough, what's wrong with this country, when we can't say what we want anymore?" As you might imagine there was rather a lot of talking past each other. It was one of the more frustrating conversations I have had recently (of which there have been far too many).

    My remonstrator attended both Auckland marches, and reckons that it is mostly people of his generation who are upset about the EFA because they travelled to Europe when there was a stark contrast between East and West (in the Iron Curtain sense). I didn't point out that my observation is that it isn't just his generation who are perturbed, it's in fact a demographic who have largely dominated political speech in our country - older well-off white men whose views could generally be classed as "conservative." (Of course there are exceptions to this sweeping generalisation.)


    *Beware of people who say "What do you think about X?" What they really mean is "I want to tell you all about what I think about X and you won't get a word in edgeways."


    PS Is anyone else having troubles with EFA rather than EFB? The first just doesn't trip off the finger-tips quite the same as the second.

    Puketapapa Mt Roskill, AK… • Since Dec 2007 • 234 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    I must admit that I'm confused by the "electioneering" vs "issue advertising" distinction - controls on the former strike me as utterly uncontroversial but I'm less confident about controls on the latter.

    What I have read about the US suggests that regulating "electioneering" is a form of whack-a-mole, in which everyone goes about influencing elections through issue advertising and 527's.

    Regulating political speech because it is effective and persuasive speech is dangerous, but neither am I thrilled by the prospect of those with the most money (or those with the most to lose and gain) dominating public discussion.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    And for the record, the only way the EMPU is going to influence my vote is if Andrew Little agrees to role-play Mellors to my Constance Chatterly. Which would constitue a corrupt practice, just not in the sense intended by the Electoral Act

    That slash is getting everywhere these days. Get a LiveJournal!

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • anjum rahman,

    I didn't point out that my observation is that it isn't just his generation who are perturbed, it's in fact a demographic who have largely dominated political speech in our country - older well-off white men whose views could generally be classed as "conservative." (Of course there are exceptions to this sweeping generalisation.)

    this is something that drives me wild too - the amount of public talking space these people occupy, compared to other groups. including talk balk radio hosts, newspaper editors, etc. then there's those who could be called "rent-a-quotes" - SST, family first, etc. nice research project for a media/communications masters student would be to measure in some way the amount of public airtime these guys get compared to others in our country. the next and more troubling question is how to provide more balance, without resorting to quotas, stereotypes and other pitfalls.

    rant over. back on the EFA...

    hamilton • Since Nov 2006 • 130 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    And I'd say this is another debate that would have been better served without the evangelical self-righteousness of large parts of the left.

    ha ha ha ROTFLMFAO.

    "Attack on democracy"
    "End of Freedom of Speech"

    Damn those self righteous lefties.

    Here is a little reminder about stupidity the sort of hyperbole we see these days.

    And also about what life is *really* like in places like Zimbabwe.

    (As an aside, I think The Strategist is a sadly overlooked NZ blogger).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Thomas,

    if it means people like you won't be able to phone-spam with your expensive astroturf campaigns

    Russell, "Astroturf" specifically refers (as the name suggests) to "fake grass-roots" - rich backers covertly setting up and funding supposedly community based lobbies. Boscawen has been totally up front about his ties to Act, his wealth, and his personal contribution in funding the campaign almost singlehandedly.

    You can criticise his politics if you wish, but not his transparency or honesty.

    I only bring up what is a small point because this year the Beehive's been a little too quick to accuse opponents of"hidden agendas" (especially around the EFB; but even when National announced its PPP policy intentions, the government was screaming about "hidden agendas". Call me an idiot, but what was hidden?).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Julie Fairey,

    Well if we want to talk a little about hidden agendas and National's policies Ben then maybe we could look at Tony Ryall's blurt about removing the cap on doctor's fees (not in the policy release) and the absence of any mention of the Iraq war from the foreign policy release. Not to mention the internal policy war that appears to be going on about whether National will put bulk funding for schools in their 2008 election policy - Rich says no, but Peachey says yes.

    But that would of course be dreadfully off topic, so maybe another time.

    Thanks for the back-up Anjum. And for the new phrase - "talk balk radio" indeed!

    Puketapapa Mt Roskill, AK… • Since Dec 2007 • 234 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    anjum: that's what I think. The views of these people are portrayed as being "mainstream", "apolitical" and (worst of all) "common sense".

    This is largely self-perpetuating, too. The publishers of the Herald don't instruct it to be right-wing (to judge from their other papers like the London Independent). What I assume happens is that the incumbent journalists hire like thinkers into their "profession", thus keeping things going.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    So, those saying "we'll just form a party" will need to go beyond that, and actually run candidates. otherwise, non-contsting parties are treated as third parties.

    What happens if a party registers itself, etc. early in the year and then fails to get it's act together to actually field any candidates. (This did happen last time, didn't it?)

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Well, DPF and his friends have jumped the shark.

    I don't think they grasp what nutters they've made themselves look.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    From the DPF link:

    The Helen Clark billboard is was put up today near Auckland Airport

    That would be Auckland *International* Airport.

    Didn't Don Brash accuse the Greens of treachery for representing NZ poorly to people overseas? Isn't this the same?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Well, DPF and his friends have jumped the shark.

    I don't think they grasp what nutters they've made themselves look.

    Good. Lord.
    The only times I've ever ventured into Kiwiblog comments has been off links here, but I still cannot begin to fathom that these people are even mildly serious...

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

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