Sunday, July 29, 2007

Overkill Bill

The Electoral Finance Bill makes a dog's breakfast look like fine cuisine. Even dog tucker has more meat in it than this Bill. I can't refer to this Bill as vomit because even puke has a few carrots in it. This Bill is sicker than sick. All this time behind closed doors wrangling a majority with the minors for this? THIS??

The preamble admits that this Bill "significantly amends the Electoral Act 1993 and also amends the Broadcasting Act 1989." Dr Helena Catt, Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission, pointed out at the Electoral Symposium that there were twice that many Acts affecting electoral funding (buggered if I can remember them all). This Bill is not a holistic makeover of how elections are funded.

The policy objectives in this Bill include "promote participation in parliamentary democracy". This is the nub of it. Parliamentary democracy, not representative democracy. Parliament is supreme, not the people. If you're not in a professional party, then you won't be able to have your say. This is a power play.

I doubted my faculties when I read that third parties have to register with the Chief Electoral Officer, that they must appoint a financial agent to act as martyr. But the one that really whammed home was the part where third parties had to HAND OVER to the Chief Electoral Officer any anonymous donations over $500 for the WHOLE YEAR.

This one hit home. I have an AP of $10 weekly that goes to NORML. According to this Bill, if I didn't disclose my identity to the authorities, my donations would have to be handed over to the government. Lucky for me I don't give a flying mallard whether people know I give money to an organisation that seeks to legalise the prohibited, thereby possibly incurring the wrath of arrest and detainment at any moment by warrantless search under the Misuse of Drugs Act. It's OK, I've desensitised.

The intent of this Bill is clear. Knee-capped by fundraising to pay off last election, Labour, NZ First and Untied Future will knee cap everyone else to even the score for the next one. Better yet, don't give your meagre disposable income to a pressure group, give it to a party. Pity the poor bastard who wants to support an idea not an ideology.

But what really pisses me off is the Greens' support for the Bill. The Green Party started out as a coalescence of pressure groups, fused together in the Alliance and spat out before it went supernova. This Bill will kill any chance of that happening again. In spite of the very essence of the spirit of MMP, to encourage and foster more than two voices in the House, the Greens would throw that all away to be popular with Labour.

The next chink is Mark Burton.