Matthew Hooten on EPMU agitation

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Matthew Hooten’s column this week concentrated on the EPMU and the disconnect between their public statements and their explanations to the Electoral Commission.

The EPMU is also an affiliate of the New Zealand Labour Party.

According to Labour’s constitution, this makes it an integral part of the party’s organisation, alongside its local electorate committees, branches and national conference.

Last election year, it was Labour’s third-largest declared funder after Owen Glenn and the Auckland casino.

The union’s national secretary, Andrew Little, is deeply involved in Labour’s administration, sitting on its governing council, alongside president Mike Williams and leader Helen Clark.

According to Little, the EPMU is “represented at all levels in the party, at electorate committees, at some of the national committees [and] on the New Zealand Council” and will remain so.

It is those last words that will damn the union in the eyes of the Electoral Commission, charged with enforcing Labour’s own Electoral Finance Act.

Under our sinister new electoral laws, unions and everyone else are required to get permission from the Electoral Commission, by registering as a “listed third party”, before they can spend more than $12,000 recommending how we should vote.

Unfortunately, the commission has no choice but to deny the EPMU’s application to speak freely.

The commission must refuse third parties’ registration if they are “involved in the administration of the affairs of a [political] party”. It is a terrible dilemma for the commission.

There is absolutely no doubt that the EPMU is involved in the administration of the affairs of the Labour Party.

Now don’t get me wrong, I want the EPMU to be able to debate the issues, but unfortunately and rather deliciously they have been caught by the law they actively supported. Unfortunately for Labour they may well have to change the law to allow their own mates to campaign, I think they should just abolish the nasty, spiteful law. They won’t of course and we get to fight the fight all over again.