Tuesday, November 20, 2007

ZenTiger What the EFB doesn't cover

So Labour want a level playing field? If that's the case, then we need to look at a wider landscape. Or maybe, they just want to tip the balance in their favour? It started off being about the Exclusive Brethren attempting to influence people's minds. And anonymous donations and parallel funding was also included. Maybe the EFB blocks all these things now, maybe it doesn't. But what else do we need to consider?

1. Press Releases.
Presumably, any mob can make a press release and then rely on the MSM to print it, make it a story, or ignore it. The NZ Labour Party are very adept at getting the message out free of charge. The MSM seem to be very keen to regurgitate their 'news'. A canny operator will learn how to make press releases that are irresistible for the Media and get free advertising.

Remember the CTU helping Labour with this one: National to fund tax cuts with workers' lives

2. Television Time
The big parties get more TV time than the smaller parties. This makes it very hard for new parties to spring up in response to filling gaps in our political offerings. How fair is that? With caps on spending, a new party would be lucky to afford more than 30 minutes of TV time in an election year.

3. Government Advertising
Government departments can EACH spend millions of dollars on advertising in an election year. If, for example, some-one like Curran (a Labour candidate) was hired by the Ministry of the Environment to launch a Climate Change spending spree, how easy is it for Labour to generate advertising and policies around the themes and designs expressed - how easy to calculate what topics to make election issues? It's like double-dipping if the strategy is in harmony. Remember Working For Families advertising? Over 7 million spent just prior to the election, with a budget of 15 million total for the campaign. Makes the Exclusive Brethren's budget seem a little silly now, doesn't it? Remember when Cullen released his 2005 Budget? A series of bus shelter advertisements came out that were pure red (Labour colours) and the word budget was not mentioned on the "Budget Awareness Campaign Posters". They were pulled after 2 weeks and $90,000 tax payer advertising because the flagrant electioneering was noticed. No punishments of course.

4. Government grant money
Unions, NGO's and certain charities get government funds which they then use to donate to the Labour Party. Money comes from direct funding, 'schemes' such as to fund projects like training and worker safety (but funds are pooled) and from indirect government sources such as the NZ Lotteries Commission. Should any organisation receiving funding from the government be required to return the SAME AMOUNT of tax payer funds that they decide to spend on political donations, up to the amount they received in the first place?

5. Critical influential information that turns out to be false?
The newspapers were reporting ACT were going to lose Epsom based on very small poll samples. It is quite possible this turned away a lot of voters from punting on ACT because the 5% threshold looked unlikely. Given that the left say we need to regulate free speech, do we need to regulate the quality of speculative reporting?

6. Rewarding bad behaviour
Remember when Labour created news by accusing National of being funded by American 'bag men'; or when Labour sent fake Eviction Notices to State Housing tenants? I always wondered why the public (or the MSM) never punished Labour for these deliberately unethical actions, yet go completely redneck on the Exclusive Brethren.

This is just an off the cuff list of things that add hills and valleys to the level playing field. There must be a lot more. Surely, it would be worth considering these issues in any major rewrite to the EFB - no matter what the final opinion on these issues proves to be?

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