Electoral Finance Act: "It's about the sweet scent of power, and the lust for control" (updated)
Crikey, Hone Harawira can get to the heart of an issue. Here he is speaking yesterday on the Government's Incumbency Protection Act, (passed last night by 63 votes to 57):
Yes folks money talks, but nothing talks quite like the truth, and the truth about this Bill is that it's nothing but an arrogant dismissal by this Labour-led government to deny the citizens of Aotearoa / New Zealand the right to participate in one of the fundamental rights of any so-called "democratic society" – how you elect your government.
And no – we will not be fobbed off by any talk about how this is only about election finances, because it ain't.
If this was only about election finances, then why did this Labour government push through special legislation to validate their $800,000 over-spend at the last election, rather than let the legal process take its natural course?
If this was only about election finances, then why didn't this Labour government ask the Auditor General and the Electoral Commission, to present a range of options for public consideration, and presentation to the House?
If this was only about election finances, then how come the Human Rights Commission says this Bill is a dramatic assault on fundamental human rights – freedom of expression, and the right to participate in the election process?
If this was only about election finances, then how come the Human Rights Commission says that even this rewritten, flea-bitten, revised and patched-up version should still have been given back to the public for full discussion and debate?
I'll tell you why Madam Speaker, it's because this ain't just about election finances.
It's about the sweet scent of power, and the lust for control. It's about the decadence of corruption, the stench of deceit, and the refusal to accept the reality of impending defeat.
Yes, there have been amendments, hell we even voted for one of them, but given the constitutional importance of legislation that will play a critical role in determining how the next election will be fought – stitching up this deal behind closed doors, and then adding a veneer of democracy through a select committee process, is nothing but a sick joke.
Mind you, this government denying the people of Aotearoa the right to open and public debate on the process by which we manage the next election, is right up there, with their changing the law to bypass any serious questioning of their expenditure, at the last election.
Madam Speaker, the Maori Party will not be party to a bill which is clearly aimed at restricting freedom of speech.
We will not be party to this desperate attempt by Labour to stay in power at the expense of the fundamental human rights of the citizens of this country.
We will not be party to a bill designed to put fear into those who would speak their mind, by forcing them to run the gauntlet of registration, audit, notification, financial agency, monitoring, reporting, scrutiny, and penalty.
And we will not be party to a bill that slams the door on opposition spending, while allowing government to continue to spend millions on promoting its own policies and programmes.
Madam Speaker, the Maori Party was borne out of Maoridom's absolute rejection of this Labour government's arrogant denial of our basic human rights to the foreshore and seabed.
And we will reject this Bill to rewrite the law to allow that same government to stay in power - with the same vigour and determination.
Madam Speaker, money is not what drives people to vote, it is truth...
And I sincerely hope and pray, that those who have sacrificed the truth for the delusion of power, that overwhelms this decadent and depraved piece of legislation, will come to see the folly of their ways when the people reject this sham, come Election 2008.
UPDATE: The Free Speech Coalition sums up the impact of the Act, which will come into force in just two weeks!
The Act discourages individuals and groups from participating in the electoral process and spending their own money, while at the same time allows MPs and parliamentary parties to far more easily use taxpayer funds on their election campaigns and not even have it count towards their spending limits. It is the ultimate act in hypocrisy.
- Ignored the Law Society's advice that the Bill should be scrapped
- Ignored the Human Rights Commission opposition to the regulated period, and their request to allow the public to submit on the amended Bill
- Ignored the NZ Institute of Charted Accountant's advice that the Bill is unworkable
- Ignored the Electoral Commission's advice on spending limits
- Failed to provide legislative certainty around the exemptions for MPs
- Protected anonymous donations with massive loopholes which may result in less, not more, disclosure
- Continually misrepresented key clauses of the Bill
"New Zealand has no written constitution. At the end of the day 61 MPs in Parliament can pass any law they like, no matter how repugnant. Previously constitutional conventions have protected Acts like the Electoral Act, but the passage of the Electoral Finance Bill sees the demise of that convention." said spokesperson David Farrar.
"We hoped the parties supporting this Bill would listen to the near universal opposition from the media, from the legal profession, and from the public and do the right thing. Sadly they have chosen not to.
"We do not believe there should be no consequences for those parties which passed the Electoral Finance Act into law. The NZ Herald correctly labeled it as an "Attack on Democracy" and we believe it is time for Democracy to attack back.