Kiwi Polemicist

October 24, 2008

Update: union support for the Labour Party

In an earlier post I gave a transcript of a “survey” done by the Service and Food Workers Union which I believe is electioneering: now I have further information regarding this.

The SFWU is evidently confused: it wasn’t that long ago that they issued their “Spring” magazine, and now they’ve sent out their “Summer” magazine, also in spring. This just happened to arrive in members’ mailboxes about 18 days before the election and just happens to contain about 10.5 pages on the election (about a third of the magazine), including both covers. Helen Clark is mercifully absent this time but Sue Bradford gets a spot, which is enough to get me reaching for the pins. There’s an article on the phone survey that I covered – click on the picture to view it full size:

The article states that “the most important part of the survey reminds participants what Labour-led governments have achieved for working people over the last nine years as well as letting them know of some of the dangers that we would face if National got in” [emphasis added]. This supports my contention that this electioneering and that the cost should be counted under the Electoral Finance Act.

The article also states that 19% of those surveyed were undecided about who they were going to vote for, and says “We will make a second phone call to the ones who are yet to make up their minds.” So, those who join a union for better terms and conditions will find themselves hounded by that union prior to election day: if that isn’t electioneering, what is?

I have two objections to this, and both boil down to dishonesty:

1) unions state that their reason for existence is to help workers when in fact their real raison de’etre is the advancement of Socialist/Marxist politics.

2) the SFWU persists in calling this a survey (see the title of the article) when it is clearly electioneering.

However, lying is normal for Marxists so none of this surprises me.

Click here for an update to this post.

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Update: as I stated in one of the comments on this post, s 114(2)(b) of the Electoral Finance Act says that surveys are not counted as election expenses for third parties, so I wonder if the SFWU are falsely describing this as a survey so that it won’t count towards their $120,000 spending limit.

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10 Comments »

  1. Have you reported them to the Electoral Commission?

    Comment by Mr Dennis — October 24, 2008 @ 9:18 am

  2. That is an interesting idea – do you have any particular reason for suggesting this? I have reading through the EFA (one of the more confusing laws) and I have a couple of ideas, but I’m interested to hear yours.

    Comment by kiwipolemicist — October 24, 2008 @ 11:11 am

  3. Well, I am no expert on the EFA but I understand that it classes an electoral ad as any wording that is intended to or could induce someone to vote for or not vote for a particular party, or something like that (it is easy to find the actual wording). I would say that the statement:

    “the most important part of the survey reminds participants what Labour-led governments have achieved for working people over the last nine years as well as letting them know of some of the dangers that we would face if National got in”

    would be pretty blatant election advertising by that definition.

    Comment by Mr Dennis — October 24, 2008 @ 12:42 pm

  4. The SFWU is a registered third party so they can do what they like within the $120k limit, and conveniently s 5(2)(f) of the EFA precludes newsletters from the definition of an electoral advertisement (why then does the SFWU magazine have an authorisation statement?).

    There are two areas of interest I can see after a quick reading of a badly written law:
    1) Labour & the Greens may have to declare the survey as a contribution
    2) s 114(2)(b) says that surveys are not election expenses for third parties, so I wonder if the SFWU are falsely describing this as a survey so that it won’t count towards their $120k spending limit.

    As an aside, and I’m not 100% certain about this, it appears that third parties can make contributions/donations on top of their $120k limit, so the SFWU could be giving tens of thousands of members’ money to Labour and the Greens: I’m sure they will do so if they can.

    At this stage I cannot see any obvious breach of the EFA, but I’ve sent an email to the Electoral Commission regarding the two points above.

    Comment by kiwipolemicist — October 24, 2008 @ 3:27 pm

  5. I didn’t realise they were registered, so that gets rid of my objection. But falsely describing something as a survey would be an interesting point, it is questionable however so probably not clear enough to get them to rule against. If they were a right-wing group that might be another story…

    Comment by Mr Dennis — October 24, 2008 @ 6:38 pm

  6. The best way to discover how they might rule is to report them. Speculating is a waste of energy.

    If every breach was reported by everyone who suspected it might be a breach their bias might be worn down – its worth a shot.

    Comment by Madeleine — October 26, 2008 @ 12:45 pm

  7. Madeleine, thank you. I have reported this.

    Comment by kiwipolemicist — October 26, 2008 @ 7:34 pm

  8. Well done – make sure you blog the outcome.

    Comment by Madeleine — October 26, 2008 @ 8:10 pm

  9. […] from the Electoral Commission In an earlier post I stated that I suspect that the Service and Food Workers Union used a “survey” as an […]

    Pingback by Response from the Electoral Commission « Kiwi Polemicist — October 31, 2008 @ 8:17 am

  10. […] Click here for an update to this post. […]

    Pingback by Election 2008: union support for the Labour Party « Kiwi Polemicist — December 21, 2008 @ 2:00 pm


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