Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dunne still doesn't know what he's voting for

He has read
He's been advised
He has scanned the EFB
Only to be informed
But he still doesn't know what he's voting for
But he still doesn't know what he's voting for

Many people have criticised the Greens and Peter Dunne for their positions on the Electoral Finance Bill.David Farrar has criticised "those great champions of human rights overseas - the Greens, and United Future" for voting against an amendment to allow anonymous advocacy on the Internet.

But UnitedFuture voted against this amendment only because the party caucus has a rule that they do not vote for any amendments - Government or otherwise - which they have not had 24 hours prior notice so that they can consider them - and National, who put up the amendment, did not approach them about any of the amendments. It would be interesting to see if there are any amendments since 2002 that United Future has voted for, but did not have 24 hours notice.

Anyway, this rule was probably the reason UF did not vote for National's amendment to push the start date of the bill to April 1. However what is concerning is that UnitedFuture does not believe that Usenet or YouTube advertising is classed as an electoral advertising and to be doubly sure, Peter Dunne says he is seeking further confirmation from officials.

Regarding third Parties, Dunne has said that the registration process applies only to those third parties who genuinely seek to mount campaigns around the election, not those merely expressing an opinion - like saying, perhaps that Labour has a crazy car policy and its MPs should be told that it is wrong and that we should all e-mail them. Dunne has a disregard for the views of the Electoral Commission. The Electoral Commission is of the view that the IMVDA's Crazy Car advertising back would "clearly" be covered. Dunne thinks that criticism of a policy is not caught, but exhortation to vote a certain way is caught -that is, advertising on an issue in a way which may encourage people to vote for or against parties on that issue is now an election advertisement. That is exactly what the Electoral Commission and the Auditor General said the crazy car advertisments did -but Dunne says they don't.

Dunne also believes the bill is designed to ensure advertising is more transparent through the disclosure requirement. My earlier post stated that the secret seven members of the Exclusive Brethren, for example, can run joint ads for a total of $840,000 as the bill will allow for advertisments to be apportioned between third parties. Whats more, under this bill, anyone will be able to donate $1000 every day anonomously should they so choose and nobody will know where a particular third party got their money from because the disclosure requirement doesn't exist as it doesnt kick in.

Now thats hardly transparency throgh the donations requirement - if Dunne understood the bill he would have done an amendment banning repeated anonymous donations.

In other words Dunne did not have a clue why he was voting and has no idea why his officials - whoever they are - are advising him the way they are. If he doesn't get the advice from officials by Tuesday before he casts his vote for the bill, he is voting in ignorance. If he does get advice and it is different, it would be hypocritical to vote for the bill. It will be too late to do a supplementary order paper.




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