Political Finance – Private resources

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I read the literature relating to who is really financing our political parties in New Zealand. I must be honest, and own up to not really knowing that much about the subject, finding the subject overly complex. Like most New Zealanders, I have heard of the ‘John Banks affair’ and ‘Skycity’. Involving money from Kim dotcom and not declaring it. As with Skycity National changed the law to get more pokies in and longer opening hours. I have always known that the National party was funded and backed by big business, and Labour was financed by the unions. I must admit after doing the readings and finding out whose putting money into which party, it certainly opened my eyes. Three elections back political financing by both major political parties was a scandal, after the election party finance came into the public spotlight.

In 2007

“The Labour-led government moved after the election to tighten up the regulation of political finance, with Parliament passing the Electoral Finance Act 2007 (EFA). The government’s stated intention was to prevent the undue influence of money on electoral outcomes, while providing greater transparency and accountability on party and candidate election activity” (Edwards 2012).

Political parties are influenced by money, and that’s the long and short of it, you might wonder why people and companies give large amounts of money to political parties. They are not giving political parties large amounts of money out of the goodness of their hearts, they want something back for it, its simple economics.

Let’s take for example ‘business’ and the National party.

“The business community can’t give us enough votes to win, but [they] can provide us with money” (Hagar 2006, 213).

The National party did not win that particular election, business had to wait on their return from the money they had ‘invested’. It’s a bit like interest you earn at the bank, for business their investment matured in 2008 with the election win of the National party under the leadership of John Key.

LAW CHANGES
Meal breaks bill
* Removes fixed 10-minute and half-hour breaks, allows flexibility.
Employment Relations Bill
* Extends optional 90-day trial for new employees to all employers. f
* Requires employer consent for union access to workplace; consent cannot be withheld unreasonably.
* Ends compensation for dismissal where employer makes only “minor or technical” mistakes.
* Lets employers communicate directly with workers during collective bargaining.
(Collins 2010)

As you can see the above law changes implemented by the National party relating to employment after the 2008 general election, business were set to profit. If the ordinary New Zealand worker doesn’t benefit from the employment changes, then who does?

Helen Kelly the president of the council of trade unions said

“workers are turning up to show their disgust at what is a raft of changes going through the Parliament – to move the tea break, to lose the tea break and the lunch break, to remove security of employment and – the Cabinet papers say – to allow employers to drive wages down” (Marbeck 2013).

Political parties in New Zealand are too well resourced by private business and individuals to the point that they don’t see how it looks to the public. Instead of political parties relying on party membership and other fundraising activities like baking cakes, they have moved away from that to large donations from private funders. Political parties have lost their way, a perfect example of this is the Donghua Liu case where National and Labour were involved in giving a Chinese national , citizenship in New Zealand. Donghua Liu was given citizenship against official advice, Ministers in labour and National were both involved.

“The Herald revealed yesterday that Mr Liu was given citizenship in 2010 after National Party minister Maurice Williamson and the then Mayor of Auckland, John Banks, lobbied the Minister of Internal Affairs, Nathan Guy” (Savage 2014)

the article then goes on to say that

“Mr Williamson, the Minister of Building and Construction, and Prime Minister John Key then opened the first stage of a $70 million construction project launched by the Chinese-born developer after he became a citizen”. (Savage 2014).

Later we find out that after this man has become a New Zealand citizen, he invests 70 million dollars into a building project in New Zealand. Why couldn’t he have done that before he was a citizen?

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

was this the pay off, for becoming a New Zealand citizen? If he was just a normal person without money would he have obtained citizenship? I doubt it very much especially as the official advice was not to grant him citizenship. What is wrong with Politian’s? Are they all so corrupt that they don’t care where their donations come from, and even the Prime minister doesn’t care,

“Prime Minister John Key said there was nothing wrong with the National Party receiving a $22,000 donation from Mr Liu two years after a senior National MP supported his citizenship bid. (Bennett 2014).

Something needs to be done about private donations because governments should be for the people, not just for the small minority that can afford to influence them through money, this is a national disgrace!.

 

Bennett, Adam. 2014. Donation draws political fire. March 14th. Accessed April 5th, 2014.http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business                   /news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11219248.

Collins, Simon. 2010. Hundreds protest employment law reform. August 21th. Accessed April 4th, 2014. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10667838.

Edwards, Bryce. 2012. Elections and campaigns, Electoral finance. July 13th. Accessed April 4th, 2014. http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/elections-and-campaigns/page-5.

Hagar, Nicky. 2006. The Hollow Men: A Study in the politics of deception. Nelson, New Zealand: Craig Potton Publishing.

Marbeck, Briar. 2013. Thousands rally against employment law changes. August 28th. Accessed April 5th, 2014. http://www.3news.co.nz/Thousands-rally-against-employment-law-changes/tabid/1607/articleID/310942/Default.aspx.

Savage, Jared. 2014. Businessman in citizenship row up on violence charges. March 14th. Accessed April 5th, 2014. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11219251.

 

 

 

 

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