Monday, September 28, 2009

National to reintroduce EFA-lite [updated]

Remember the protests over Labour’s Electoral Finance Act? Remember the wriggling by Greens and Labour supporters attempting to justify this outrageous assault on free speech? Remember the campaigns against it by the Free Speech Coalition and John Boscawen?  Remember all the heroes? Remember the subsequent abolition of the Act by National and the apology by Phil Goff – and the promise that National would eventually dream up something better with which to replace it?

Remember it well, because it was all for naught.  As Lindsay Perigo points out at SOLO, the National Socialists Sell Out Again!

The National-led Government's draft proposals for legislation to replace the vicious Electoral Finance Act make one wonder why National bothered keeping its much-vaunted promise to repeal that Act, since what is proposed by Justice Minister Simon Power is in many instances indistinguishable from what was, says SOLO Principal Lindsay Perigo.

For instance, on state funds for election broadcasting:

The Government is consulting on three options for reform of the broadcasting allocation as follows:

1. Status quo - retain the current broadcasting  allocation regime.
Or
2. Moderate reform - allowing broadcasting funds to be spent in any media, and not just radio and television.
Or
3. Significant reform - allowing broadcasting funds to be spent for any purpose, and not just election advertising.

On donations:

Retain the regime governing donations to constituency candidates and political parties that was developed as part of the Electoral Finance Act 2007, and now forms part of the Electoral Act 1993.

On campaign spending limits:

Increase expenditure limits for constituency candidates and political parties (last increased in 1995), and periodically adjust limits for inflation.

On political ads:

Require promoter’s name and full street address and suburb which is either a residential address, or is where the promoter can usually be contacted during the day (cannot be a PO Box).

On campaigning by third parties:

The Government is consulting on two options for regulation of parallel campaigners:
1.     Proportionate regulation  - this option will establish campaign expenditure limits and thresholds over which the parallel campaigner must register with the Electoral Commission - unlike the Electoral Finance Act 2007, however, the scheme is weighted in favour of freedom of expression, and is simple and easy to comply with.
        The Government is therefore requesting further submissions on how the scheme could uphold freedom of expression, be simple and easy to comply with.
Or
2.     Status quo - this option could be subject to possible modification, such as restriction of parallel campaigning to New Zealand individuals and groups.

On radio and television advertising by third parties:

The Government is consulting on two options:
1. Allow parallel campaigners to advertise on radio and television, provided that they are subject to a system of proportionate regulation (the first option proposed for the overall regulation of parallel campaigners).
Or
2. Retain the current prohibition.

On whether you'll be fined $100,000 for exercising your right to free speech:

The new stand-alone electoral agency will be tasked with publishing guidance on electoral finance rules and providing advisory opinions on whether publications amount to an election advertisement.

Penalties for electoral finance offences were increased significantly by the Electoral Finance Act 2007, as were the time limits for prosecution of serious electoral finance offences.
[The Government would] retain the offences and penalties regime and time limits that were developed as part of the Electoral Finance Act 2007 and now forms part of the Electoral Act 1993.

"This is all contemptible," says Perigo. "Sell-out Simon asks how the scheme could better uphold freedom of expression, be simple and easy to comply with. Well, here’s something simple, Simon. Just repair to Section 14 of the Bill of Rights Act, which upholds 'the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form.'

"No restrictions on who may fund whom (publicly or privately), who may campaign for whom, who may advertise for whom and with whom—and no taxpayer money to anyone. That's freedom of expression, Simon, and it's darned simple and easy to comply with.

"For precisely that reason, one fears, the National Socialists will do the opposite and proceed with this reprehensible resuscitation of the very Act they so recently dumped. This would be sufficient reason to dump them," Perigo concludes.

Your democracy is still under attack, this time by the people who said they were going to protect it.  Which is the biggest betrayal, do you think?killthebill

UPDATE: By way of contrast, David Farrar – a chief promoter of the Kill the Bill campaign- says of Simon’s EFA-Lite, “Overall it is a good document. . . .”  Apparently it’s only bad when Labour promotes such things.

Meanwhile, Marty G. at The Standard is at least more principled.  He was for Labour’s assault on free speech, and he’s for this one as well. Says Mart “At first blush, Power appears to have done a reasonable job and he’s done it by largely keeping the EFA intact.”  Our evaluation of the latter is the same – it’s the former on which we disagree.

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11 Comments:

OpenID Bernard Darnton said...

How are those rats tasting? And what the justification for swallowing them all again?

9/28/2009 04:10:00 pm  
Anonymous Elijah Lineberry said...

No doubt Boscowen and ACT will be voting for this EFA-lite (a slight moderating of their position a couple of years back)... and rushing off to tell everybody how principled and libertarian they are.

Pathetic.

9/28/2009 04:22:00 pm  
Anonymous Anti-Socialist said...

David Farrar is a Nat whore. If the wind shifts in one direction, Farrar will say amen. If it shifts in the opposite direction, Farrar says, amen. Farrar is a National socialist Yes Man.

Where is Judith Colin on this? She did partake in the anti EFA march along Queen St, about a couple of years ago? Why is she being silent on this?

9/28/2009 04:53:00 pm  
Blogger KG said...

If Key was a Labour Party sleeper all along in what way would his actions differ from what we're seeing?

9/28/2009 05:45:00 pm  
Blogger David Farrar said...

The proposals out today are generally all consist with greater freedom and saying no to those who want to restrict it.

Of course it is not a totally unregulated system - but we have never had that. I measure laws by the direction in which they take us.

Things I would think most here would agree on:

* No increase in state funding (heaps advocated for an increase)
* An option for removing the restriction on parties buying their airtime
* No increased restrictions on donations
* An increase in spending limits for parties and candidates
* The likely removal of a retrospective regulated period.
* Exemptions for all person opinion on the Internet as election ads
* Exemptions for websites as election ads
* An option for no restrictions on parallel campaigning. Yes also an option for some restrictions but hey you are getting asked your preference. So make sure you submit so it goes the right way.
* An option for removing the restriction on third parties purchasing broadcast time for election ads

Again I am under no illusion that the document is one the Libz would draw up. But as I say the test I apply is will it make us more free or less free than the current law, and in many areas it may be more free. It will depend on what options are chosen and I'd encourage again submissions.

9/28/2009 06:04:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

"But as I say the test I apply is will it make us more free or less free than the current law . . ."

Which is precisely the approach the Libz would take. The test however would not be "will it make us more free than Helen's EFA," since even Frank Bainimarama could draw up a law that could do that. but "will it make us will it make us more free than the laws the EFA replaced."

Between those two poles lies an ocean of spin.

9/28/2009 06:11:00 pm  
Anonymous Barry said...

The law attempts to increase freedom by allowing more parties to advertise during elections and preventing the two major parties from dominating debate.

Peoples interest in a free country are not served by only those with money being able to mount and run effective campaigns.

I would consider that the new act makes people freer to make a choice come election time because they will get more information about all parties EVEN the Libertarians.

9/28/2009 09:00:00 pm  
Anonymous LGM said...

This law, as with its predecsssors, attempts to restrict freedom. It achieves that by applying the notion that every individual requires permission from the government before being allowed to present political opinion publically. That this permission is usually automaticaly granted, should said opinion be presented according to arbitrary regulation, does not alter the fact that it is a permission.

A free country is not preserved by perservering with the situation where only those with the "correct" political connections, the "correct" political message, and an approval by the political establishment, are allowed to mount and run effective campaigns.

This law, as with its predecessors, attempts to restrict freedom. Hence it is an antithesis to freedom.

LGM

9/29/2009 07:59:00 am  
Blogger Graeme Edgeler said...

The test however would not be "will it make us more free than Helen's EFA," since even Frank Bainimarama could draw up a law that could do that. but "will it make us will it make us more free than the laws the EFA replaced."

That's a good test. I believe DPF's argument is that in many instances - e.g. the regulation of broadcast advertising - it would make us more free that the pre-EFA electoral law.

9/29/2009 10:16:00 am  
Anonymous LGM said...

Graeme

However one attempts to rationalise it, it is still bad law which remains anti-freedom in intent and in practice. No excuses, it is no good.

LGM

9/29/2009 12:51:00 pm  
Anonymous Chris Diack said...

“No doubt Boscowen and ACT will be voting for this EFA-lite (a slight moderating of their position a couple of years back)... and rushing off to tell everybody how principled and libertarian they are.”

I doubt John Boscawen has ever told anyone he is a “principled libertarian” – he does however support the freedom of expression particularly that of non candidates and non political parties.

You should not assume ACT will be voting for or against anything – the document contains a number of options – whilst some are all bad; within that some bad options are better than others. It will all depend on the final shape of the Bill that is introduced.

And remember ACT only has 3.65% of the say.

National will look to its old ally on electoral matters; the Labour Party for votes. That is why adopting much of Labour’s approach makes a deal do-able between them. National’s primary concern was less about what Labour did but rather the manner it was doing it i.e. excluding National.

National and Labour tend to go back and forth on an electoral law issue between them (eg enrolment) until one basically adopts the position of the other. Their mutual interests as dominant incumbents to restrict competition from outside the other is a powerful motivator.

The trick is will Labour’s position as one of the two dominant incumbents be better served by supporting National’s Bill or are short term tactical interests in mounting an opposition to the Bill on the basis of the scare and influence of “big money”more important – this closes out the Greens and some on the harder left who are challenging Labour/Goff to prove their leftwing cred.

Labour will be attracted to do a deal: it keeps the 1million in broadcasting allocation but much more importantly it needs largely a free reign on the use of its Parliamentary allocations.

9/29/2009 12:53:00 pm  

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