Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Why Labour Won't Pay It Back

The Auditor-General’s report into unlawful spending of parliamentary services funding is not restricted to Labour’s use of the pledge card. The A-G identified widespread use by Labour and other members of parliamentary services funding for electioneering purposes—the bill for Labour alone is well over a million dollars. The Greens, Act, United Future, and NZFirst are all in the hole as well. National got off relatively lightly—ten grand was very, very small by comparison.

We haven’t yet seen the A-G’s report. It’s the report that the Prime Minister doesn’t want the public to see. Why? Because it discloses that Labour’s misuse of taxpayer funds during the last campaign is more than twice the cost of the pledge card.

It’s a separate legal point as to whether the Auditor-General is even required to publish its report. Scrutiny of Parliamentary Services is not covered by the Official Information Act. Labour and other Parties could block to stall the release of the report as long as possible, if at all.

It does give a lie to Labour’s current spin that nobody knew the rules. Every party knew the rules around applying parliamentary services funding for electioneering purposes. In the final three weeks of the campaign, Labour was desperate. It was trailing in the polls, and prepared to play dirty for the sake of buying office. It had no money left of its own that it could legally spend. So its answer? To bring in the unions to spend up large on Labour’s behalf. Its second solution? To bully Parliamentary Services to allow it to use parliamentary services funding for electioneering, in the clear expectation that nobody would notice it after the fact.

No party is lily-white in the application of parliamentary services funding for electioneering. National slipped up to the tune of ten grand. In the mayhem and chaos of an election campaign, it is perhaps conceivable that in the last ninety days, individual MPs of a political party might send communication to voters which constitutes electioneering during their normal duties. It is conceivable that the value of that communication might be $20,000. In the Nat's case, their misspend was $10,000, which they have repaid.

If the rules (which the Labour Party set after the previous election) were so unclear, how is it that one party in particular mis-used its funding to such a preposterous degree, and National did not?

The short answer is that Labour expected to spend its funding for parliamentary services, entirely for electioneering purposes, with impunity.

The longer answer is that Labour spent more than half a million dollars more on electioneering, using parliamentary services funding, over and above the cost of the pledge card. That constitutes a cynical and deliberate attempt to rort the taxpayer to pay for its own campaign. The Labour Party’s premise was that if it was going to lose the last election, it might as well go out with a bang. No reasonable, objective opinion—and the opinions of the Auditor-General, the Solicitor-General, the Chief Electoral Officer, and the Secretary of Justice are generally pretty reasonable and objective—could see it otherwise. Labour abused its parliamentary services funding, in a concerted effort to win the campaign. That, dear reader, is the very definition of corruption.

Why are smaller parties so keen to protect Labour over this? Partly because they will support Labour at any cost. They don't want an election. They don't have the campaigning funds to fight another one, and they know they're dog-tucker even if they had the funding. Partly also because they don’t have funds of their own to repay what they misspent during the campaign. Partly because Labour has dangled the carrot of public funding of their parties for them. That’s a red-herring in terms of Labour’s culpability in the last election, but a critical bribe for smaller parties, for whom lack of fundraising is one of their major organisational problems. Smaller parties are even less able to reimburse Parliamentary Services for its misallocation than Labour is for its mammoth $1 million sham.

There are moments in a government's lifetime that signal its irreversible decline. I can well recall some of the unfortunate activities and decisions of some National ministers in the last two years of Government that suggested that power had gone to their heads. They pissed voters off. That arrogance directly contributed to the voter-shock that the Nats experienced in 1999 and 2002.

But for all its failings in its dying years, the Bolger-Shipley transition from 1996-1999 was not corrupt or venal. They did not feather their own nests. They actually believed that they were making a positive contribution. They made mistakes driven by arrogance.

If Helen Clark was more focussed on staying in touch with her voters, and Cullen not unwell at present, then neither of them would have allowed this tragic situation to exist. Labour have set a new standard for third-term governments, with unrivalled arrogance, hypocrisy, sleaze, filth, self-serving corruption, and absolute contempt for taxpayer and voter alike.

Voters have become used to the Judith Tizard factor in politics: somebody so loony, so contemptuous of the voters who elect her, so distant from reality that she will spout of any old nonsense as a justification for her government's actions. For such acts of inadvertent self-ridicule, Helen Clark rewards her with all the baubles of Ministry. In isolation, she is easy to ignore. Yet what the misuse of parliamentary services funding has shown is that the entire Labour Party has remodelled themselves in Judith Tizard's image. Collectively, by not repaying the money back, by attempting to "validate" their unlawful actions, by buying smaller party support and spinning the discussion into "democracy funding", we now have a Labour caucus full of Judith Tizards. It is a Government that has set itself up for inadvertent self-ridicule every day that it continues to exist in defiance of normal standards of political behaviour.

Voters no longer believe in Helen Clark or the Labour Party. And they've brought it all upon themselves.

7 comments:

Gekko said...

sweet

Anonymous said...

good stuff as always IP, I hope this gets out...

But I wish voters did in fact, no longer believe in this revolting, morally corrupt regime. But if history is anything to go by, their ratings will go up.

At least we no longer have to listen to the media call Mrs Davis "Teflon Helen", in response to their inability to ask tough questions. Thankfully even those idiots have realised that they are too as expendable as tax payer money, and are slowly waking up to what has been going on the 9th floor from day one, even if it is 7 years too late.

And at least, well I hope, the Sisterhood will not go down in history as one of the greatest governments ever (which is where our media had them heading), and the only legacy they will leave behind is gay marriages, prostitution, corruption, and money laundering (through the unions)… sounds like another Al Capone story, but at least that guy was a capitalists.

But they will get away with it, no question, and there’s fuck all we can do about it…and they know it.


SeanJ

Anonymous said...

"Voters no longer believe in Helen Clark or the Labour Party. And they've brought it all upon themselves." In Bold.

Yeah, thats why Labour are the government after Labour just won the last election, and while Labour are still holding steady at 43 in the latest poll (by the way how did that make you feel?).

dream on insignificant prick

Seamonkey Madness said...

Yeeah, shame that National are ahead of them though - dumbass.

Spirit Of 76 said...

What amuses me is that we are now seeing all of the usually sanctimonious pinkos over at Farrars place getting all flustered. Because even them, deep down, they know that Labour are rotten.

Anonymous said...

And Labour's not really left of the political spectrum anyway - they make all the right nosies about wanting to help the poor and oppressed but actual act far worse than anything they could every try to accuse National or Act of trying to do.

i.e. 1) cutting people from waiting lists and sending some home to die because the waiting lists have go so long you will never see anyone.

I believe Labour calls this building up the public service with spending up 50%.

2) Closing the gaps - a policy they instigated after accusing National of doing nothing about the Maori in this country - after 7 years of Labour's help they are worse off.

If I was Maori and saw a Labour saying they want to help, they should say piss off.

3) Treaty\Partnership - Labour makes a great deal about supporting Maori and it's all about partnership, but it didn't stop then from stealing the foreshore and seabed did it.

And which party has done more to settle past previances? Labour? No, it's actually National.

4) Education - don't get me started with low quality courses that does nothing to help people but waste billions of dollars.

I think it's part of some fendish scheme to make the population of NZ dumber.

5) Corruption - I agree with Don Brash this is the most corrupt government in NZ.

You stole money so pay it back.

iiq374 said...

The problem with the "pay it back" mantra is it doesnt go any where near far enough.

If I don't pay enough tax - even if I don't know it and thought I had - then I would get slapped with nasty penalties and interest. Politicians and political parties should play in the same world they make everybody else.