Kiwi Polemicist

October 31, 2008

Response 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 election advertisement, but called it a survey so that it wouldn’t count towards their $120,000 spending limit. I raised my concerns with the electoral commission and here is their response in full:

I have now had an opportunity to consider the concerns you raise below.

An election advertisement is defined in section 5 of the Electoral Finance Act as:
(1) In this Act, election advertisement—

(a) means any form of words or graphics, or both, that can reasonably be regarded as doing 1 or more of the following:

(i) encouraging or persuading voters to vote, or not to vote, for 1 or more specified parties or for 1 or more candidates or for any combination of such parties and candidates:

(ii) encouraging or persuading voters to vote, or not to vote, for a type of party or for a type of candidate that is described or indicated by reference to views, positions, or policies that are or are not held, taken, or pursued (whether or not the name of a party or the name of a candidate is stated); and

(b) includes—

(i) a candidate advertisement; and

(ii) a party advertisement.

On viewing the webpages indicated, from the information you supplied there it appears that the survey does not contain any exhortations to vote or other information that might be reasonably regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to vote or not to vote in a particular manner.

In respect of the items published in the union periodical, there are a number of other exclusions in the Act which would cover these including being excluded from the definition of an election advertisement by section 5(2):

(f) a document published directly by—

(i) an incorporated body to its shareholders or members:

(ii) an unincorporated body to its members:

As a result, the items do not appear to come within the definition of election advertisements.    The publication of items which are not considered to be an election advertisement is not regulated by the Electoral Finance Act.

Regards
Deidre Brookes

Statutory Relationships Manager
Electoral Commission
DDI:  04 474 0673
Mobile:  021 0260 8928
Email:  deidre@elections.govt.nz
Web:  http://www.elections.org.nz
P O Box 3050
Wellington 6140

[emphasis added – I did not query the use of periodicals. The address is there so that you can make a complaint]

What a load of bunkum: the survey was clearly “encouraging or persuading voters”: remember that they are calling union members who are mainly at or not far above the minimum wage. Why would the Union be calling undecided voters if they were not intending to persuade voters? Do companies conducting genuine pre-election polls call undecided voters a second time?

Do you want the good news or the bad news first?

The bad news

We have a corrupt government and their servants at the Electoral Commission are protecting the friends of the Labour government in the unions  with a ruling such as this. The “survey” should be included in the SFWU tally of election expenses.

Also, note that union periodicals are not election advertisements under the Electoral Finance Act, when they clearly are election advertisements: the SFWU has exploited this by sending out a Spring issue, then a Summer issue in spring and two weeks before the election. Both were heavy with election advertisements.

The good news

We can use periodicals sent to members of organisations as blatant election advertisements.

This also gives those on the side of freedom, justice and truth (i.e. those opposed to the Labour/Green cabal) greater scope: the definition of what is not an election advertisement is broader than we thought. However, do not expect the same interpretations to apply if you are opposed to the White Witch.

Lynch the White Witch on November 8!

Update: I invited Deidre Brookes to respond to this post; she replied to my email but declined the invitation.

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1 Comment »

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

    Pingback by Update: union support for the Labour Party « Kiwi Polemicist — December 21, 2008 @ 2:03 pm


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