Article Title:The Exclusive Brethren - Why we need the Electoral Finance Bill
Category:Comment
Author or Credit:Craig Young
Published on:15th November 2007 - 08:51 am
Published by:GayNZ.com
Internet Archive link:https://web.archive.org/web/20170423044601/http://www.gaynz.com/articles/publish/31/article_5241.php
Story ID:5241
Text:The Electoral Finance Bill is a necessity, despite hyperbole and exaggeration from the National Opposition, seemingly determined to protect possible further election funds from the Exclusive Brethren. According to the New Zealand Herald, the Exclusive Brethren "Gang of Seven" sent off an email to the Chief Electoral Officer about their intended expenditure on behalf of the Opposition. Thiscommunication was from Ron Hickmott,self-describedas a "Christian businessman." He had spoken to Mr Henry earlier in the day and requested a formal meeting to discuss the consequences of his group's proposed actions under the terms of Electoral Act 1993. Three other "Christian businessmen" would also attenda meeting with Mr Henry. They were Andrew Simmons and Phil Win from Auckland and Matt Goudie from Palmerston North. Reproduced in the New Zealand Herald, the email read as follows: "We represent a group of Christian businessmen concerned as to the course and direction of the current [Labour-led government]. Accordingly we have put together an election programme with a budget of $1.2 million with the goal of 'getting party votes for National' as this is the only way change will come about. "Our programme involves extensive publications throughout the country with a theme showing and demonstrating mistrust in the current Government and building trust in a Brash-led National Government. "We write seeking clarification and direction re the election funding issue, specifically that anything we do does not compromise National's funding position [their emphasis]. "Typically, 1. Does it compromise National's position if we communicate to MPs and candidates our strategy? 2. Does it compromise National's position if we show them draft publications before they are published? 3. Is there any legality prohibiting us printing 'Vote National,' 'Vote Brash' and including a photo of Dr Brash on [the advertising]? Can this be done without compromising National's funding position? 4. To what extent can we legally advise, direct, assist, communicate or other with National MPs and candidates?" As Audrey Young noted in her Herald article on Monday, the National Party didn't need this assistance. It had access to more than the permissible $2.4m that it was allocated within the three months before a general election under the Electoral Act 1993. National was able to start its campaign expenditure well before that period, with Exclusive Brethren financial aid. Ironically though, it was Brethrengate that may have cost the Opposition the election, or so Young argues that "National believes." (In which case, it must be asked, why are they so eager to shut down debate about the current Electoral Finance Bill? Or does money really talk so much that it drowns out everything else within the Opposition hierarchy's hearing range?) According to Young too, the Electoral Finance Bill is based on similar legislation in Britain and Canada- but not Australia, where the machinations of the Exclusive Brethren have been reported in the Melbourne Age over the span of its election campaign. One has to give the Herald due credit for this news coverage. It fulfils its professional obligations to report news in an objective, neutral and fair manner, despite its own editorial opposition to the Electoral Finance Bill. Source: Audrey Young: "Exclusive Brethren's email set stage for Electoral Finance Bill" New Zealand Herald: 12.11.07 Craig Young - 15th November 2007    
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