What has Kim dotcom and Barak Obama got in common?

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Both have changed how we engage politics through the use of digital media.

The days of political parties reaching potential voters especially young voters, by just using TV and newspaper ads is well and truly over. The 2008 American elections made all political parties around the world sit up and take notice.

“Involvement through Empowerment.”  This was the mission of the Barack Obama campaign. The first political campaign in history to truly harness the power of social media to spread the word, garner support and get people engaged. The Obama campaign reached 5 million supporters on 15 different social Networks over the course of campaign season.  By November 2008, Obama had approximately 2.5 million (some sources say as many as 3.2 million) Facebook supporters, 115,000 Twitter followers, and 50 million viewers of his YouTube channel. “No other candidate has ever integrated the full picture the way [Obama] has, that’s what’s really new about his campaign,” said Michael Malbin, executive director of the Campaign Finance Institute” (The dragon fly effect 2013).

Barak Obama changed politics forever in 2008, the amount of voters he managed to get involved is mind blowing.  Just think as well that in 2008 smartphones were not as readily available as they are today and also Twitter wasn’t as popular.

Most people around the world are on the internet, they carry smartphones and generally have a Facebook account.  Obama in 2012 ,raised $690 million for his campaign, most of this money was raised through Facebook.  The Money that was raised through Facebook were friends letting other friends know about the Obama online donations. (MacKinnon 2014).

And while in New Zealand our voter participation has been falling especially in the younger voter group, the trend in America has been quite the opposite.  The digital age of campaigning has managed to get voters who normally wouldn’t be interested in elections and politics interested.

Kim Dotcom love him or hate him, with the launch of his Internet party, he is doing what Obama did in the US, connecting people with politics through digital media. Stacey Kirk explains how Dotcom is changing politics in New Zealand

 “Typically, he’s done it by releasing an app, the first of its kind allowing membership sign-up. It satisfies both electoral law requirements and Apple and Google’s rules around collecting money through their stores.” (Kirk 2014)

As I have mentioned in a previous blog, last election there were 1 million people who didn’t vote. The opposition parties are honing in on this group, as they see them as vital to any election win.

National has led the way with their negativity towards Dotcom and his Internet party, trying to turn voters off.  But all parties seem to be running scared that Dotcom can actually get this large group of voters to do the unthinkable and vote.  The voters who didn’t vote last election are mostly young people who have been brought up in the internet age, and see politics as full of boring old people.

Bryce Edwards points out that all parties have a reason to be scared of Dotcom, his party has the power to impact them all on Election Day. Edwards then goes on to argue that National may be particularly nervous of Dotcom as he could get the young voters and some of those 1 million voters who didn’t vote last election motivated to vote. (Edwards 2014).

If Dotcom can unleash the new’ digital age ’ into  boring New Zealand politics this election and do what Obama has done in the US, then we are looking at a new political party in Parliament.

Just think all he has to do is engage a small percentage of the 1 million voters who didn’t vote last election, 50,000 votes will get him to the 5% threshold to enter Parliament.  Let’s face it, the other political parties in New Zealand have no real grasp of the power of the internet or social media.  Even if Dotcom’s party doesn’t get into Parliament he will have changed the New Zealand political landscape through the use of digital media in campaigns forever.

 

 

Bibliography

Edwards, Bryce. Bryce Edwards: Political roundup:What will happen in 2014? January 7th, 2014. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11182540 (accessed May 17th, 2014).

Kirk, Stacey. It’s the digital election race. April 6th, 2014. http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/9909573/Its-the-digital-election-race (accessed May 17th, 2014).

MacKinnon, Leslie. Teddy Goff, Obama’s digital guru, teachers Liberals new tricks. Febuary 23th, 2014. http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/teddy-goff-obama-s-digital-guru-teaches-liberals-new-tricks-1.2547951 (accessed May 17th, 2014).

The dragon fly effect. How Obama Won With Social Media. 2013. http://www.dragonflyeffect.com/blog/dragonfly-in-action/case-studies/the-obama-campaign/ (accessed May 17th, 2014).

 

Do voters really take much notice of political advertising?

 

 

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Most political advertising to me seems very negative. I must admit I read political parties polices and make my voting decision from that. Surely people wouldn’t make their decision on who to vote for from some tacky billboard ad on the side of a building or the negative ads the parties churn out on TV.

I remember as a child when elections were being held after the six o’clock news, there would be 10 minutes of party political broadcasts. For me the best political advertisement was the National parties 1975 dancing Cossacks, it really was pure genius. 1975 was the height of the cold war, Muldoon had ramped the country up to just about boiling point with his ‘reds under every bed’. From there it was easy for Muldoon to make the connection to Labours compulsory super fund, and the Soviet Union and communism. The television ad cemented in voters’ minds what Muldoon had been saying was true. With the help of the TV ad, National had a landslide victory, on election day. This TV ad would have to be one of the best political ads in New Zealand history. .

To see the video: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/video/dancing-cossacks (New Zealand History 2013).

How political advertising has changed since the time of the dancing Cossacks?

Bryce Edwards suggests that political advertising has become ‘heavily presidentialised’. (Edwards 2009) This was especially the case in the 2008 election campaign where Helen Clark’s billboard picture was overdone to the extreme. The billboard picture could be easily another person, Helen Clark was vertically unrecognisable, and this helped turn voters off her.

Political advertising can take other forms as well. Tony Abbot the Australian Prime Minister likes nothing better than being photographed in his ‘budgie smugglers’ or doing some form of physical activity. The Russian leader Vladimer Putin also does the same thing, he is photographed doing sports and embracing dangerous activities.

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A picture released on March 6, 2010 shows Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin taking a horseback ride in the Karatash area, near the town of Abakan, during his working trip to the Republic of Khakassia, on February 25, 2010. (Alexei Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images)

 see http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2011/09/vladimir-putin-action-man/100147/ (Taylor 2011)

This form of advertising is better than some billboard on the side of a building, it shows these leaders are strong fit and confident, the perfect candidate to be leader of the country. In advertising you have to have a product, in politics the product is the party, but it mostly centres on the leader of the party. National in the 2005 election campaign went after the leaders of the Labour party in cartoons on TV and billboards. National portrayed Don Brash as smiling and positive, where the opposite was the case for Helen Clark. Labour on the other hand went for a negative campaign,

Edwards’s points out that the Labour party had little to offer voters in new ideas and policies so they went for a slogan ‘don’t put it all at risk’ (Edwards 2009).

Fast forward to 2014 the National party has been in power for two terms. They, like Labour in 2005 are looking old and tired. So the rhetoric coming out of the National government, is very much like Labours was in 2005, don’t vote in, a Labour government, and don’t change what is working i.e. National.

So the slogan ‘don’t put it all at risk’ that Labour used in 2005, will be very much what National will use in the 2014 election. The only bright part of this 2014 election, might be Kim Dotcom’s internet party. The Internet party will use social media and the internet as their main platform for their political advertising.

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Kim Dot com himself will be what the party bases there political adverting on, it has already started

“Now Dotcom will launch his album and his new music download site, Baboom, tomorrow, as planned, with an extensive advertising campaign on radio and on the back of more than 100 buses” (Milne 2014).

Having a person like KimDotcom who is larger than life, pardon the pun, connected with your political party is like gold. I’m predicting in this year’s election campaign that the Internet party will bring to New Zealand politics a new way of political advertising that will change in the future how all parties present themselves in the political arena.

Bibliography

Edwards, Bryce. Political adverting in the 2008 NZ election. August 16th, 2009. http://liberation.typepad.com/liberation/2009/08/political-advertising-in-the-2008-nz-election.html (accessed May 15th, 2014).

Milne, Johnathan. Irked Dotcom takes a swipe at Key. January 19th, 2014. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11188725 (accessed May 17th, 2014).

New Zealand History. Dancing Cossacks political TV ad. August 23th, 2013. http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/video/dancing-cossacks (accessed May 15th, 2014).

Taylor, Alan. In Focus: Vladimir Putin, Action Man. September 13th, 2011. http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2011/09/vladimir-putin-action-man/100147/ (accessed May 17th, 2014).

As long as there has been elections, there has been campaigning.

New Zealand's Opposition Leader Key, of the National Party, greets supporters at Nelson Airport

Prime Ministers such as Michael Joseph Savage would be amazed at how campaigning has changed from his day.  Radio then television radically changed election campaigning, today elections are fought on the internet, and through other social media devices.  All political parties are continuously on the campaign trail, they never stop campaigning even when they are in government.

Political parties have essentially become businesses, and as a business you need to sell your product.  Election campaigns have become polished and professional.  Political parties from the left and right, have in the last few years employed overseas advertising agencies to run their election campaigns. As 2014 is an election year it will be interesting to see how the parties conduct their campaigns.  Possibly National will scaremonger the voters about Labour and the Greens taking power.

Bryce Edwards suggests that National will campaign on the platform, that only they can keep New Zealand in the great economic times we are enjoying now

“National will seek to demonstrate its economic management credentials by attaining a return to surplus in this year’s budget – however slight it might be. According to Patrick Gower ‘It will be an absolute central plank of National’s election campaign next year, and English has delivered. National wants to say “Labour and the Greens will put it all at risk – we won’t.” It is going to be an attack campaign – and English has put the bullets in the gun’ – see: Politician of the Year – Bill English.” (Edwards 2014)

National possibly will argue that Labour and the Greens will spend ‘hard earned tax payers money’ on projects the country can’t afford.  National might point out that in a Labour led government there will be Green Party ministers in cabinet who will take New Zealand back to the dark ages with their green policies.

National may also argue that they are the only political party that can be trusted to run the country and balance the books.  National is a party that is starting to look old and tired, they have been in government for six years, and seem to be beginning to unravel, so this year’s campaign will be one of not much substance with John Key as their secret weapon.

If I was in John Key’s position I would be seriously worried, as his party is looking very much out of touch with middle New Zealand and the poor.  National M.Ps are dropping like flies in various scandals, involving dirty money, and abuse of position.

Patrick Gower argues

“Now more than ever, Judith Collins is a political liability for John Key. She is damaging the National Government” (Gower 2014).

They are beginning to look like a party that is only worried about money and position and if you have neither then they are not interested.

Much of National success is due to John Keys popularity as Prime minister, there’s no ignoring that fact.  However it now seems that the National party’s tenure has run its course.  National as a Party has no new ideas to campaign on going into the 2014 election, examples of this is the recent policy of ‘Nit Picking’

“The country’s “nits epidemic” is under attack with the introduction of free head lice treatment to families in low decile schools, the Government says.

Funding of nearly $1 million is being provided by the Ministry of Social Development to tackle the troublesome parasite, minister Paula Bennett said today.” (The New Zealand Herald 2014)

If the past term and is any indication it is possible that National will fight this election negatively.  Should campaigning on historical triumphs, with no new policy and economic direction be enough to give National another term.

The Labour party on the other hand has learned that negative campaigns get you nowhere.  After two terms on the cross benches they are looking more revitalised than National with new economic and social ideas to campaign on.  Labour are releasing new strategies on the most vulnerable children in this country by giving extra money to young families and free early childcare education.

For more information on these incentives go to http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/9652164/Labour-promises-60-a-week-for-new-babies

Labour has just recently released its new policy to control interest rates and fight inflation.  It is a radical policy for New Zealand, as it involves giving the Reserve Bank the power to remove money out of circulation by increasing people’s savings by putting that money into their Kiwisaver.

(for further information see http://www.nzherald.co.nz/personal-finance/news/article.cfm?c_id=12&objectid=11246172 )

Political parties this election need to show substance; solutions for child poverty; and inequality.

The issues surrounding housing affordability, and availability are shaping up to be a main campaign

“The rocketing cost of housing in Auckland is a major economic problem contributing to higher interest rates, a higher NZ dollar and mortgage restrictions that are being felt from Kaitaia to Bluff.” (Hickey 2014)

This one issue alone could mean the winning and losing of the election.  For the average New Zealander owning a house has been a right, but sadly this dream has slipped away from most people with house prices sky rocketing.  If I was a Labour strategist, I would do what Robert Muldoon did when housing was out of reach of most families in the 1970s.  Muldoon campaigned under the policy that Housing Corp. would lend money at low-interest, and the normal deposit be lowered to make it more affordable for first time buyers, on this platform he won that election.

But for all the election campaigning by Labour and positive policy changes, if New Zealanders are not over their love affair with John Key then I think National will take a third term.

 

Bibliography

 

Edwards, Bryce. Bryce Edwards: Political roundup: What will happen in 2014? January 7th, 2014. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11182540 (accessed May 10th, 2014).

Fallow , Brian. Brian Fallow: Labour’s plan looks good. April 29th, 2014. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/personal-finance/news/article.cfm?c_id=12&objectid=11246172 (accessed May 10th, 2014).

Gower, Patrick. Opinion: Collin’s gutter politics a liability for Key. May 5th, 2014. http://www.3news.co.nz/Opinion-Collins-gutter-politics-a-liability-for-Key/tabid/1382/articleID/342808/Default.aspx (accessed May 10th, 2014).

Hickey, Bernard. Bernard Hickey: City too thin for comfort. May 11, 2014. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/transport/news/article.cfm?c_id=97&objectid=11252950 (accessed May 12, 2014).

Small, Vernon. Labour promises $60 a week for new babies. February 27th, 2014. http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/9652164/Labour-promises-60-a-week-for-new-babies (accessed May 10th, 2014).

The New Zealand Herald. Free head lice treatment attacks ‘nits epidemic’. May 8, 2014. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11251883 (accessed May 12, 2014).

How many eligible voters in the last election did not vote? (Lec 17.)

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Answer: 1 million people chose not to vote in the general election

As a country we should be ashamed of ourselves and the worst thing is, it seems to be our youngest voters that are the worst offenders. Why don’t these 1 million people, not want to vote?
Maybe they are just lazy, stupid or both. Or could it be they may get lost on the way to the ballot box, and not find their way back home. For whatever reason it’s a national disgrace.
Maybe the time has come to give these 1 million an incentive to vote every three years, if you don’t vote, that’s okay, but you have to pay a $10,000 fine; I wonder how many of those 1 million next election wouldn’t vote?.
There are millions of people around the world that would love the opportunity that we have of free elections. At the moment Iraq is voting in their general elections

“There were mortar and other attacks on polling stations across the north and west of the country, in which at least 14 people were killed. Among the killed were two members of the electoral commission” (Spencer 2014).

Iraq people are voting in a culture of violence, and they are voting in record numbers just to have their say on the next government. When we go to the polling both do we have to put up with bombs going off, or people shooting at us?
Has voting turned into an intellectual or rich phenomenon?

Why do I say that?

Labour is generally a Political party for the workers and the poor, their usual voting block is to the left. Labour’s voting block has been seriously eroded by ‘missing voters’ to the point that it is now costing them elections, the people who are not voting are generally their voters.
This is why at election times National doesn’t want a big turnout at the polls, because they know that if there is, this means the poor have got off their bums to vote, and they (National) are out of office.

“Changes in law enforcement, welfare police and a general drying-up of social services and public assistance, argue Soss and Jacobs, have sent a message that government doesn’t really empathize with the plight of poor people — so why should poor people care about government or even bother to vote?” (Drutman 2009).

That quote really says it all, the poor in New Zealand have been treated worse than second class citizens since the reforms of the 1980s. Successive Governments have blamed the poor for being a burden on society, and portrayed them as the reason why the rest of New Zealand is not living in a land of milk and honey. This has singled them out as a group in society. Isn’t that what Hitler did in Germany to the Jews? No wonder the poor don’t want to vote they are sending their own message to the government the only way they can, through their lack of participation in elections, they are giving the political system the proverbial middle finger.

But this is still no excuse for not voting. New Zealanders all have the right to vote, whether they are male or female, black or white, rich or poor. People seem to forget that this hasn’t always been the case,
Voting in New Zealand first started around 1853 and it is repeated every 3 years. When voting first started it was a white male domain, you had to own land to be eligible to vote, which left Maori, and woman out in the cold.

“Woman won the right to vote on the same basis as men in 1893-a world first at a national level-and in 1919 they won the right to be elected to parliament” (McRobie 2003, 176).

Maori were not as lucky as woman who received the vote in 1893, Maori had to wait a considerably longer time to vote in the general seats. For me this part of New Zealand’s political history is an extremely racist and upsetting one, because my Maori ancestors were unable to vote in New Zealand’s elections.

They eventually gained a Maori Member of Parliament who represented the whole of the south island, and let’s face it, the New Zealand government of the time treated the four Maori seats as a bit of a joke, they saw them as dumb savages.
People seem to forget that not all people around the world are free to vote like we are here in New Zealand. Many New Zealanders had to fight to receive the right to vote; people today who don’t vote in elections are disrespecting the memory of those New Zealanders as well as letting themselves down.

Maybe the time has come in New Zealand to make voting no longer optional, because the whole political system is starting to feel the weight of these missing voters.
What happens if there were 2 million people who didn’t vote this election, then next election 3 million? When do you say enough is enough?, this sort of apathy can undermine democracy.
If we have so many people not voting, it lets governments into power that may not have got into power had they voted. Had the ‘missing million’ voted last election, would we now have a John Key government with a ‘mandate from the people’, to restart the old neoliberal reforms of the dark ages which involves selling state assets?

“Labour is also counting on winning back some of the so-called missing million voters who chose not to vote in 2011” (Edwards 2014).

Like my parents always said to me “if you don’t vote then you can’t complain about what the government does to the country”.

 

Bibliography

Drutman, Lee. 2009. How the poorest Americans have drooped out of politics. May 21th. Accessed May 3th, 2014. http://www.psmag.com/navigation/politics-and-law/poorest-americans-dropped-politics-3691/.

Edwards, Bryce. 2014. Bryce Edwards: Can Labour still win? April 7th. Accessed May 4th, 2014. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11233782.

McRobie, Alan. 2003. “Elections and the Electoral System.” In New Zealand Government and Politics Third Edition, by Raymond Miller, 176. Melbourne Australia: Oxford University Press.

Spencer, Richard. 2014. Iraq election: violence overshadows first election since US withdrew. April 30th. Accessed May 2th, 2014. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/10799255/Iraq-election-violence-overshadows-first-election-since-US-withdrew.html.

 

Political Leaders: Lecture 15

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When you think of great political leaders, you may think of John F Kennedy or perhaps even Winston Churchill. These political leaders captivated their countries and the world, there are very few leaders that have that quality.

Our Prime Ministers have changed over the years, they have had to adapt to changing political trends around the world and also the onset of MMP.  In New Zealand there have been a number of great Prime Ministers over the years, but none greater in my opinion than Michael Joseph Savage who was the first Labour Prime Minister of New Zealand.  His policies still affect all New Zealanders today, even though they were passed in the 1930s.  The “welfare state” that we all enjoy as a nation today would not be available if it wasn’t for him.  Dr Michael Bassett explains.

“When I was a small boy, few homes were complete in the working class suburbs of Auckland without a framed, tinted photo of Michael Joseph Savage” (Bassett 1998).

What modern New Zealand Prime Minister has had that sort of impact, Bassett goes on to say

“There he was in the hall next to the crucifix. She picked him down, kissed him, and told me that Savage was the nearest thing to Christ in her life. The photo still hangs by our back door thirty two years later”. (Bassett 1998).

I was lucky enough, this year to have found one of these photos of Michael Joseph Savage, in an antique shop and now he sits on my office wall in the state house that his welfare state built.  The early Prime Ministers all had one thing in common they cared for the people of New Zealand, they didn’t go out of their way to hurt them with radical reforms that have led to poverty and a nation of have and have not’s that we currently live in.

The Prime Ministers of New Zealand have become like the American President, the voting public of New Zealand sadly doesn’t vote for the political party anymore but the leader of the party; this is illustrated by the success of John Key.  The policies and reforms implemented by National party are hurting the majority of the population, but John Keys popularity has never been higher, which in turn drives up the National vote.  How does he do it?  Bryce Edwards explains

“…and, of course, Key’s public perception of being nice, ‘relaxed’, willing to laugh and indulge in humour or down-to-earth behaviour (beer in hand, bbqs, jandals, etc) fit in very nicely with that anti-politician and anti-elite brand.” (Edwards 2011).

Since the 1980s Prime Ministers have been the face of huge radical change in our country, they have been able to sell these changes to the voting public, and we have been stupid enough to believe them.

Prime Ministers have become ‘salesmen’ that’s what their job is, to sell party policy and keep the voting public on side; keep winning elections, and when they fail at that job they get the political knife in the back and replaced.

“A further important role of the Prime Minister is to the chief spokesman for the government. This involves presenting the government’s position on major matters to both Parliament and the media. The prime ministers state-ments are taken by the media to be the authoritative view of government, which gives the prime minister considerable potential power to commit the govern-ment to a course of action even without cabinet approval” (Henderson 2003, 111)

As a nation New Zealanders have let Prime Ministers over the years get away with hurting us by selling us hard economic medicine, to the point now where we expect it

“So Kiwis are more apt to accept hard change, provided they are convinced it’s necessary. And Key has proved able to convince them” (Hartcher 2013)

Who would have thought New Zealanders would be stupid enough to let John Key go on a purge of assets.

“And now Key is speaking the unspeakable. Privatisation of state assets is on the agenda as he pursues a budget surplus in 2014-15.” (Hartcher 2013).

The Prime Minister has always been the face of a political party, but these days it is more of a popularity contest.  The Prime Minister in the MMP environment has to manage not only their own party but often a coalition government, whereas prior to MMP, they only had their own party to manage.

Bibliography

Bassett, Michael. 1998. How Ideal was the Savage Ideal. September 4th. Accessed April 24th, 2014. http://www.michaelbassett.co.nz/article_savage.htm.

Edwards, Bryce. 2011. NZ POLITICS DAILY: Why is John Key so popular? July 4th. Accessed April 26th, 2014. http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/nz-politics-daily-why-john-key-so-popular-96508.

Hartcher, Peter. 2013. NZ shows trust is key to popularity. March 26th. Accessed April 27th, 2014. http://www.smh.com.au/comment/nz-shows-trust-is-key-to-popularity-20130325-2gqad.html.

Henderson, John. 2003. “The Prime Minister: Powers and Personality.” In New Zealand Government and Politics Third Edition, by Raymond Miller, 111. Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.

As long as there has been politics, there has been scandals and corruption (Lect 13)

 

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People usually go into the political game with the best intentions. Over time though some if not most become corrupted:

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men” (James 2013).

I’m not saying they all do but there is an ever increasing majority that are corrupted or involved in a scandal.
For example, the 2013 scandal involving Peter Dunne, he is one of parliament’s longest serving MPs; he claims to be New Zealand’s political school prefect or choir boy, always whiter than white.
Peter Dunne last year was said to have leaked a top secret document to a female journalist, which resulted in him stepping down as a Minister; why would he have done that? Jane Clifton points out that

“It’s certainly not uncommon for new, young MPs to show off to journalists by swaggering about all the secrets they know. It’s much less common for seasoned MPs to do so, though many have reporters they trust, and are happy to give them briefings on a paw-print-free basis” (Clifton 2013).

There seems to be no real answer to why Dunne leaked documents; why would he have done such an unwise thing? Clifton points out that

“My best guess is that being a source can be quite ego-boosting, and it is part of a midlife crisis to seek ego-boosts from novel sources” (Clifton 2013).

This example of a Politician who made a senseless mistake for whatever reason, has tainted his political image forever. Political scandals and corruption have always been around, we are just hearing and seeing more about them through improved media reporting and the common use of blogs and social media.
One might observe that MPs private life and professional life is far more important today than it has ever been. Auckland’s mayor Len Brown has been subject to much media attention after details of his affair were released on a popular blogging site.
The media these days have become feral, they have a blood lust for scandals, and they especially seem to like political scandals. The general public seem to think that such political scandals highlight New Zealand’s politician’s tendencies toward corruption, and yes there has been some genuine cases. But we are among the least politically corrupted countries in the world. If we look at China and their record of political corruption, it seems to be a normal everyday event.

“Zhou, who retired in 2012, has reportedly been under virtual house arrest while the party investigates charges of corruption against him and his colleagues, Reuters reported, adding that putting Zhou on trial might be a double-edged sword because it may reveal some embarrassing facts about China’s elite and in turn affect the party’s image at home and abroad” (Shankar 2014).

We certainly don’t want that sort of behaviour in New Zealand politics, but it is slowly creeping in slowly. Take the recent Judith Collins scandal, she met with, and had dinner with Chinese officials describing them as ‘friends.’ These ‘friends’ of hers could help her husband’s company in China,

“Collins used the taxpayer’s dime and the privilege of Ministerial office to help out the company her husband works for, Oravida in Shanghai” (Gower 2014).

Judith Collins story seems to change week to week,

“Collins has claimed she was just dropping in at Oravida “for a cup of tea on the way to the airport”. (Gower 2014).

Does she think all New Zealanders are stupid, she didn’t ‘drop in for a cup of tea on the way to the airport?’ What else hasn’t she told the public? How do we know she didn’t get paid to show up at Oravida to have a “cuppa” and her picture taken? Maybe Miss Collins should shift to China and take up politics there because that’s how they do political business.

New Zealand politics are the least corrupt in the world; New Zealand as a country should be very proud of that. There will always be a bad apple however, like the case of Miss Collins.

New Zealand MPs get a large pay packet and allowances as remuneration for doing their job, some countries do not have that same pleasure, which helps push some politicians into corruption.

We as a society seem to be focused on scandals, whether it be royal; actors and of course political. The people who we have representing us in Parliament are only human they make mistakes just like any other person. But make no mistake we should not put up with corruption of any kind, and that is why behaviour by politicians such as Miss Collins should be made to face particular consequences if not asked to resign from their positions.

 
References

Clifton, Jane. 2013. Jane Clifton: Peter Dunne’s gobsmaking fall from grace:why would Mr Moderation even consider leaking the GSCB report? My best guess: midlife crisis. June 7th. Accessed April 11th, 2014. http://www.listener.co.nz/current-affairs/politics/jane-clifton-peter-dunnes-gobsmacking-fall-from-grace/.

Gower, Patrick. 2014. Opinion: John Key is scared of Judith Collins. March 11th. Accessed April 11th, 2004. http://www.3news.co.nz/Opinion-John-Key-is-scared-of-Judith-Collins/tabid/1382/articleID/335400/Default.aspx.

James, Walter A. 2013. John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, 1st Baron Acton. May 29th. Accessed April 14th, 2014. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/4647/John-Emerich-Edward-Dalberg-Acton-1st-Baron-Acton.

Shankar, Sneha. 2014. China’s corruption probe could launch formal investagation against former security chief Zhou Yongkang. March 3th. Accessed April 11th, 2014. http://www.ibtimes.com/chinas-corruption-probe-could-launch-formal-investigation-against-former-security-chief-zhou-1558907.

 

Political Finance – State resources

Bankroll

Like most New Zealanders I am sick of all these scandals that revolve around politics and donations. There just seems to be one after another coming from all sides of the political spectrum, these members of parliament who “we” vote into office are making clowns of themselves and us. Maybe it’s time that to make our politics more pure, that these private funders to political parties are taken out of the equation.

There has been reforms relating to the electoral finances of parties, but they are not working, it’s like most things in life there’s ways around everything, like Labour leader David Cunliffe found out. He set up a trust to hide his donations for the Labour party leadership bid

“Mr Cunliffe said it was an error of judgement to use the trust. It had meant he did not have to disclose donations in the Register of Pecuniary Interests” (Trevett 2014).

You would think that the Leader of the Labour party would know better, obviously not, but it’s not just Labour; all parties have been caught doing dodgy things relating to political funding. Maybe all political parties should be funded by the tax payer, we certainly don’t want corrupt governments in New Zealand.

Political parties in New Zealand are starting to head that way, just ask the Chinese businessman Mr Liu how he received citizenship into New Zealand?.

“A wealthy Auckland businessman was given New Zealand citizenship against official advice after a Government minister lobbied the colleague who made the decision”. (Savage 2014).

Mr Liu then new how New Zealand politics worked not much different than his native homeland china,

“Such practices drive entrepreneurs to seek senior officials as their patrons because politicians in China have the power to approve projects and allocate resources” (Zhang 2013).

Mr. Liu new that his citizenship didn’t came free, just like in China you have to pay the piper so to speak, or in this case the National party of New Zealand,

“The following year, one of his companies made a $22,000 donation to the National Party”. (Savage 2014).

Do we really want our political system going down this road, it starts like this just giving New Zealand citizenship to one Chinese businessman, for a mere $22,000, then it snowballs,

“The relationship between the now disgraced politician Bo Xilai and businessmen Xu Ming, the founder of Dalian Shide Group, was typical of such patron-client relationships. Xu, a large man, allegedly fattened his pockets through his guanxi with the Bo family as he funded the family’s jet-set life style” (Zhang 2013).

We as a nation have to put a stop to this small scale political corruption before it escalates into something bigger. Corruption is starting to raise its ugly head in New Zealand politics and if that means having to state fund all parties then I say so be it. Even in the birthplace of New Zealand politics, England, is debating state funding as people see all the corruption in politics.

“The committee also proposed that from 2015 there should be a £3-per-vote state funding for the parties, representing £23m a year over five years. This amounts to 50p per elector a year, little more than the cost of a first-class stamp” (Hasan 2012).

England has been plagued with corruption, if you have the money you can have a meal with or see David Cameron talking to him privately about policy all for a large donation. Politicians in England and New Zealand are running scared of state funding, they say that the public won’t back it, citing tax payer’s money. They just don’t want to give up all the perks they get from business like a box at a rugby game and so on.

But New Zealand tax payers already pay for political party’s aids on television which is in the millions, and political parties waste millions of dollars of tax payer’s money a year that could be earmarked for our political parties being state funded. I think if you asked the average New Zealand voter if they wanted the corruption in politics by shady donors to stop, and all they had to do is pay a few dollars a year in extra tax, you might be surprised at the answer.

Bibliography
Hasan, Mehdi. 2012. The time has came for the state funding of political parties: The status quo is unsustainable and the argument for reform is overwhelming. March 26th. Accessed April 6th, 2014. http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/mehdi-hasan/2012/03/time-has-come-state-funding-political-parties.

Savage, Jared. 2014. Citizenship,then $22k for Nats. March 13th. Accessed April 6th, 2014. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11218598.

Trevett, Claire. 2014. Cuncliffe comes clean over donations. March 4th. Accessed April 5th, 2014. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11213703.

Zhang, Lijia. 2013. Author: In China, ‘everyone is guilty of corruption’. October 24. Accessed April 6th, 2014. http://edition.cnn.com/2013/10/23/opinion/china-corrution-lijia-zhang/.