Right Wing Blogger attacks Government, Greens

Fran O’Sullivan: Helen’s double-whammy – 05 Dec 2007 – Opinion, Editorial and reader comments from New Zealand and around the World – nzherald

Fran O’Sullivan, who was once described by Helen Clark as some sort of Right Wing Blogger, has again attacked the government and the Greens over its Electoral Finance Bill. She also points out how pointless the law will be to stop creative people circumventing such a ridiculous affront to our free speech.
[quote]The Government has cited timing issues as the rationale for pushing the Electoral Finance Bill through into law this week and the need to get the Emissions Trading legislation into the House.

It has breathtakingly expanded the traditional election campaign period to cover the entire election year, imposing strict funding limits from January next year instead of the traditional three months before election day.

The climate change legislation is being introduced now so that the forestry sector – which is first cab off the rank under the Government’s “all sectors, all gases in” emissions trading framework – can get some trading certainty from the beginning of the year.

In each case, the Government is proceeding on what it believes are noble objectives: it wants to cut “big money” out of funding (it uses the word “buying”) elections, and it wants to ensure NZ is ahead of the curve on tackling climate change.

But in both cases it is steam-rollering objections instead of acutely listening to feedback – particularly from business – and tailoring the legislation so that it is more effective.

This self-serving nonsense comes from a Government which has made a fetish out of rubbishing the “crash through or crash” efforts of its predecessors.

I would predict that it won’t be long before we see a “plaintiff of convenience” emerge to test the electoral legislation.

In the meantime, watch out for viral marketing internet campaigns early next year. Look also for the erection of “attack” billboards alongside state highways and even the letting off of “trial balloons” into the air above Wellington and Auckland to protest at the Government’s heavy-handedness.

Ambush marketing campaigns are no doubt already being dreamed up by some of New Zealand’s most creative advertising minds.

I would also predict there will not be any shortage of “anonymous” funds to defend any “plaintiff of convenience” that might emerge.

Yesterday, Green co-leader Russel Norman had a whack at Business Roundtable associate member John Boscawen for funding the recent protests against the bill.

“It is no surprise that a member of the Business Roundtable would pay someone to organise marches against campaign finance reform. Around the world, far right business groups oppose campaign finance reform because they want to be able to spend to influence government policy,” said Norman.

Around the world – or at least in mature democracies – the major party in power does not connive with a minor one to rewrite election rules to favour MPs in power.

Around the world, the major party in power also takes notice of the views expressed by the nation’s prime businesses when drafting a response to climate change.

The Government might not have bothered with the pretence of a consultation and feedback period judging by the bill’s contents.[/quote]

She then shows how draconian the bill is if you try to oppose legislation that is being enacted in an election year.
[quote]The Government asks the business sector to now place its faith in Parliament’s finance and expenditure committee to listen to submitters’ views and amend the legislation where needed.

The Major Electricity Users’ Group makes the valid point that “doing nothing” hasn’t been an option for some time.

But like David Skilling with his NZ Institute “Fast Followers” report and Alex Sundakov with his “Castalia” report, the major energy users are likely to find themselves at the end of a Government attack rather than joining in sound analytical argument.

The problem is that business is now in a double-bind. If companies want to protest against the effect of the climate change policies by running advertising campaigns, their leaders face the possibility of criminal charges if they exceed the $120,000 limits.

The Government couldn’t have timed it better if it had planned it.[/quote]

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