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Electoral Commission Targetting ACT

0 comments | 11:00 pm | top |
The Electoral Commission has ruled that Rodney Hide's yellow jacket jacket was potentially in breach of the Electoral Finance Act and has passed the matter on to the police. If the police decide to prosecute Mr. Hide, he will face a fine of up to $10,000, while the ACT Party will also face a fine of up to $40,000. What I find intriguing, is that the Electoral Commission has ignored all the other complaints that I have submitted regarding possible breaches of the Electoral Finance Act by other political parties. Below is a short summary of each of these complaints.

1. Greens campaign website carries no authorisation statement - 26 August 08
The Green Party's (now defunct) campaign website address was www.votegreen.org.nz. For a screen-shot of the website, click here (as at 11:30pm, 25 August). It is very clear from this screenshot that there was no authorisation statement on the website - which, is encouraging people to vote "for or against" a political party. The response from the Electoral Commission can be summed up in this extract from an email I received, "...the url [www.votegreen.org.nz] did not appear on the page itself, and indeed would only have appeared in the address bar (which you control, not the Green Party) when you typed it in." Such a response is very subjective; the matter deserved further investigation rather than simply a *clever* answer from the Commission.

2. National campaign video - 10 October 08
The Electoral Finance Act states that authorisation statements must be visible and readable. The authorisation statement at the end of National's latest campaign video on YouTube did carry an authorisation statement at the end, but it was very fuzzy, and impossible to read, and thus breached the act. The response from the Commission read,

"We have considered the YouTube page and note that while the promoter statement on the video was blurry, did think that it was just readable, at least on the monitors we are using. In addition, at the top of the page on which the video appears is a National Party banner with an eminently readable promoter statement (a copy of which I attach). This would conclude the matter from our perspective."

This response ignores the fact that on the page for viewing the video, there is no authorisation statement. As for the statement being "just readable", that is pathetic.

3. Labour Online advert - 10 October 08
The Labour Party purchased a package of Google adverts - one of the most common adverts you will see online. The breach is detailed here at the Don't Vote Labour blog. In this instance, Labour has placed a Google Ad which promotes the Labour party, and yet carries no authorisation statement. The Commission's response to this complaint was,

"As you will be aware, the Electoral Commission's primary focus in its role of overseeing political party advertising in election year is assisting participants to comply with their obligations under the law. As you point out, Labour Party google ads now contain promoter statements. In light of this we will not be taking further action on this matter."

It would be better if the Commission would tell us what is really going on. They are in fact, assisting participants to comply with the law - so long as they are not the ACT Party. I have made more than just the three complaints listed above. However the Commission has demonstrated incredible leniancy with these other parties, offering trite reasons as to why they had decided not to pursue what were quite obviously potential breaches of the new Electoral Finance Act.

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