Monday, October 16, 2006

Pay it Back NOW!

With Labour’s announcement that it will repay the $800,000 of public money it spent on last year’s election, it’s worth examining Labour’s claim to be poor.

The Labour Party is the most asset-rich of all registered political parties. It uses the income from over $6 million in property assets to fund election activity.

The New Zealand Labour Party is an unincorporated society. As such, it is not required to report its finances, and is not subject to the audit requirements of incorporated societies and limited liability companies. It is generally understood that in a non-election year, Labour’s annual budget of $1.5 million is funded primarily from income from property assets, subscriptions from affiliated unions, and a core membership of around 5,000 members.

The downside of being an unincorporated society is that the New Zealand Labour Party is not permitted to hold property. Instead, property is owned by a selection of private trusts and incorporated societies that receive beneficial tax status, and hold that property on behalf of the New Zealand Labour Party.

A selection of Labour’s property assets includes:
Dannevirke Labour $15,700
Greymouth Labour Branch $40,000
Labour Properties Inc $4,800,000***
NZ Labour Party Clubrooms Inc $140,000
Picton Branch $11,000
Thames Branch $83,000
Dunedin South $770,000

Labour’s wealth outstrips National’s asset base by a factor of 10-1. National’s only property asset—a floor of Willbank House in Willis Street—is valued at around $700,000. Labour’s claims to be poor simply don’t stack up. It begs the question why a party with such a large property portfolio needs ten months to repay misappropriated spending from last election.

Helen Clark is asking Labour’s core supporters to front up and take responsibility for this. The answer to Labour is simple: if Labour’s caucus, who are responsible for the over-spend, can’t front up with the cash immediately, then Labour should mortgage or sell some of its massive property portfolio.

***UPDATE: I used some conservative estimate of the value of the portfolio in Labour Properties Incorporated, pending valuation reports which I have now received for each of the eleven properties owned by Labour Properties Incorporated.

As of this afternoon, I now have a full break-down of rating valuations for all the properties in Labour Properties, with the exception of one. The numbers are:
Fraser Body House $4,000,000
7 Fulton Crescent $330,000
1/332 Massey Road $416,000
300 Great North Road $470,000
Palmerston North $203,000
Domain Avenue $105,000
4 Regent Road Dunedin $440,000
203 Warrant Street North$223,000
651 Ferry Road ChCh $130,000
1 Pharazyn Street $240,000
Total $6,557,000

A *very* conservative estimate of the Takapuna property--prime commercial real estate on the North Shore--is $2 million. All up, Labour's assets are much closer to $10 million.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Remembering Waterloo...

I am not a person who begs or offers compromise. There is no such thing as half-sin. I admit that I can be occasionally dogmatic. Occasionally, some might say that I take an unreasonably intractable stance. I loathe socialists. I dislike liberals. I hold the entire Labour Party in contempt. There’s just far too much tolerance for the kind of dishonest, incompetent shits who will preside over $25 billion in fiscal surpluses over the last three years and look you in the eye and say there has been no money for tax cuts.

Fuckers. That’s what they are. There is no room for justification for that kind of dogmatic incompetence that is starving the New Zealand economy of productive growth.

Labour is now wriggling and writhing with anything but contrition for stealing $800k of taxpayer’s money to outspend everybody else during the election campaign. Their hastily-compiled thebigwhiparound will show them just how much support they have lost from their own voters. Labour has fewer than 5,000 members—less than a quarter of National’s membership. Political parties generally find it notoriously difficult to fund-raise outside an election year at the best of times. Labour has no financial reserves: they spent their entire war chest at the last election, and dipped into public funds to outspend everybody else, because they didn’t have any cash of their own left. Labour is very lucky that the Auditor-General did not have the power to require parties to pay back the overspending: if they had, Labour would be looking down the barrel of insolvency as a political party.

Labour is now in Government due to the choices of 22,753 voters who swung to Labour instead of National. That’s less than 1% of the vote. Labour also misused some $800,000 of public funds to outspend everybody else during the election campaign by the same amount. It is all very well for slimy pinko activists to say that the pledge card had little effect on the result—except that Labour’s own strategists claimed before the election that its pledge card was the key plank of Labour’s campaign. It’s also clear that Labour’s massive publicly-funded electioneering—which amounted to a 40% publicity boost over National, particularly in the critical last few days of the campaign—must have had some effect. Just how effective it was can be disputed, but the effect of Labour’s taxpayer-funded spend-up has put the 2005 election result as a whole in doubt.

Ordinary Labour members aren’t going to cough up $200 each to fund the corrupt actions of Labour’s caucus. Labour’s leadership is in a state of delusion if it believes that Labour’s members will front up with cash.

Of course, Helen Clark and Mike Williams need to put up the pretense of exploring all avenues possible before hitting up Labour’s own caucus for the balance of what it owes. $20,000 per MP will hit them hard in the pocket, and will cause serious rumblings within caucus. That won’t be soothed by Labour’s slide in the polls, and the prospect that many sitting MPs will be turfed out will make them even more anxious and unhappy.

The three options for Labour are:

  1. Limit third-party funding of attack campaigns. Big consequences on freedom of speech, this is Labour’s Exclusive Brethren cause. Labour thinks it’s harming National, allegedly on the basis of Exclusive Brethren political activities in the last election. The National Party doesn’t need the Exclusive Brethren. They were a pain in the arse last election, and an embarrassment to National because of their political naivety. The EBs spent fairly large amounts of cash last election, with no positive return to National. Really, banning the Exclusive Brethren from campaigning is a blessing for Don Brash.What also occurred during the campaign was massive amounts of spending and activity by trade unions supporting the Labour Party by attacking National. They will also be covered by this clause, and limited in their campaigning.
  2. Limit anonymous donations to political parties. Labour is convinced it’s onto a winner here, despite the fact that Labour has received more in anonymous and corporate donations than National in all but one of the last seven years. Labour will also taunt National with the prospect of lowering the threshold for declaration of anonymous donations, from $10,000 to $500. That action is likely to publicly disclose the identities of more than 1,000 National Party members. There is no public policy reason for this. Labour’s sole purpose is to allow Labour Party retribution against individual National Party members who do no more than express their democratic right to support a political party that isn’t Labour. Except the political landscape has changed since the last election. For far too long the socialists have done their utmost to effectively communally outlaw any non-PC agenda. Just weeks ago, Pete Hodgson issued eight press releases in seven days calling on Don Brash to resign. His sole argument was that Don Brash doesn’t share Labour Party values. In an hysterical flurry of interviews that shrieked of Labour’s desperate last gasp towards totalitarianism, Hodgson proclaimed: “It is a fact that Don Brash cannot be Prime Minister. He must go. [Because we say so.]” Labour has now put itself in the position of having no chance of winning the next election. There will be no retribution from Helen Clark if somebody chooses to give $1,000 to National. My response to National members is go ahead and give all you like to the National Party. Do it publicly. Stand up and be counted. Don’t cower at Helen Clark’s threats of bullying.
  3. Public funding of political parties. Labour is already appealing to members to fund last year’s election. Their only means of evening the playing field, as they see it, is to penalize National by as much as possible, and provide for public funds for themselves. Voters will not support Labour’s argument for state funding: they may have done so before the overspending fiasco, but not now. Even Donna Awatere Huata, who faced the consequences of misappropriating Pipi Foundation resources for her private benefit, turned down a bonus payment from Pipi. Helen Clark is showing just how shameless she is by proposing a public funding bonus for taking taxpayer’s money she wasn’t entitled to.

There is nothing that Labour can now do to prevent a massive hemorrhaging of voter support between now and the next election. Labour is careening towards a long period in opposition. As with National from 1998 onwards, Labour has to start thinking about first principles, renewal, new leadership, and revival. The sooner it starts acting on it—and it can only do so while it is not desperately trying to hold onto the Government benches they obtained illegitimately—the sooner Labour will become a political force again.

National, on the other hand, has become the defacto Government-in-exile. Don Brash has to continue acting as the Prime Minister in waiting, with only the next election and a massive endorsement from a public sick and tired of Labour’s ineptitude, incompetence, socialist mind-control and corruption, standing between New Zealand voters and responsible government.

My advice to Labour is to do whatever you like to punish the National Party for Labour’s own disgraceful lying, cheating, and theft. Whatever vindictive actions you take now, you will not succeed in cheating voters out of responsible Government next time. Change the rules to make it easier for you steal money again, and the public will thump you harder at the polls.

My advice to Don Brash is to start talking about his first acts as Prime Minister, once voters have turfed out this torrid, awful government. Announce that his first move will be to cut any proposed state funding of political parties, and get parliamentary noses out of public troughs. Whatever Labour do to feather their own nests, Don Brash will reverse. Don Brash’s rules—no public funding of promotion of any parliamentary activities in the three months prior to an election—will eliminate electioneering rorts from Labour happening again. A full commission of inquiry by an independent and respected High Court judge, examining all of the allegations of misdeeds by all political parties and their associates, will take the self-serving interests of MPs out of their hands, and do much more to restore credibility in New Zealand’s parliamentary democracy.

I expect in the next week or so, Don Brash and Judy Kirk will announce an important National fundraising campaign to prepare National for the next election. They believe it will be sooner, rather than later. Unlike Labour supporters, aggrieved at being asked to pay for Labour MPs' wrongdoings, National supporters will be paying for a genuine cause of change.