Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Time to consider full state funding of political parties?

Time to consider full state funding of political parties?

by Grant Duncan
June 23, 2014

Mr Donghua Liu's claims of making large donations to the Labour Party are (as I write this) under dispute by party officials who say they can find no record of them. But there is no doubt about a $22,000 donation to the National Party in 2012. Either way, these donation scandals are embarrassing to both parties.

Under Labour, Mr Liu gained residency, and under National, citizenship. Both parties are now being interrogated over Mr Liu's donations. For embarrassing donations, though, you can't beat that made by Mr Louis Crimp to the ACT Party in 2011. That was a cool $125,520 — and then Mr Crimp was quoted by the NZ Herald saying things that can only be classified as racist. Mr Crimp apparently believed that ACT would stop special treatment for Māori, but, as far as I can tell, his investment has not paid off.

Any large donation could be interpreted as an attempt to 'buy influence' in some manner. And not many people can afford to make donations of the size that Mr Crimp or Mr Liu have made. Not many people get the direct access to politicians that Mr Liu is reported to have had.

Mr Liu has stated, however, that his donations were made "in good faith without any expectation." He suggests that he may have been singled out due to his being Chinese. The fact that his residency and citizenship were granted by ministerial discretion and "against official advice" may, of course, be purely incidental.

One response to all of this is: "so what?" The big donations are publicly disclosed, so we should leave things alone. Political parties also receive direct and indirect support through parliamentary services and electorate office funding, and contributions to electoral campaigns, and that's quite enough taxpayer money.

There are limits set on the amounts parties can spend on election advertising. So it could be argued that, in this country, you can't just 'buy' an election result (we, the people, decide), or 'buy' the policy decisions you want (no matter how much a donor gives, a government has to act within the law, including laws against corruption).

At present, we have a mix of private donor and public funding of the parties. But a shift to full state funding would, some argue, put an end to the unfairness by which some parties (like ACT) get large donations and others very little, tilting the playing field. State funding within a clear set of parameters would level that out.

Many skeptical New Zealanders would find the idea of paying more public money to political parties a hard one to swallow, I suspect. And others have argued that full state funding (and a ban on private donations) would mean that parties would become more disconnected from their constituencies. Fund-raising events are a lively part of the activities that keep politicians in touch with the people they represent, and they allow supporters to connect directly with their party leaders and MPs.

I would encourage more people to contribute small amounts regularly to the party of their choice (not necessarily as a full party member), and that would mean parties would have less reliance on the wealthy donors. Ten or twenty dollars a month are within the 'anonymous' bracket. It's better to have parties dependent on a large number of regular contributors than to go all out to schmooze a few rich donors.

*************

Associate Professor Grant Duncan is a senior lecturer in the politics programme at Massey University’s Albany campus.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Franklin Lamb From The Middle East: Social Control Is Emerging As ISIS (Da’ish) Motive

It is widely recognized that the damage done to our cultural heritage in Syria and to the heritage of those who will follow us, cannot be calculated... Heretofore, three varying but cogent explanations for ISIS’ rabid destruction of our shared cultural heritage have been commonplace. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Myopia Of The Business News

Listening to the business news is a bit like eavesdropping on the radio transmissions from space aliens. There is no discernible connection between the concerns of the captains of these space ships – the bank economists and the finance house spokesmen – and the concerns of ordinary listeners back on Planet Earth. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Clinton, Sanders, Trump And Cruz

Come November, the world will have a new US president-elect and the least unlikely winner still looks to be Hillary Clinton. Right now though, the polls are showing a rocky stretch ahead for her in the immediate future. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Sean Penn And El Chapo - Vanity, Hollywood And Reportage

Leaving aside Sean Penn’s personal history with drug use, let alone alleged efforts to get a slice of celebrity in portraying a drug lord, the furore surrounding his interview with El Chapo is instructive in a few respects. One is worth noting: the blind rage it has provoked with some US political figures and advocates who show how utterly lacking in understanding they are of their own liberal market system... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Podemos, And Spain’s Election Stalemate

By hard grassroots effort, it convincingly rejected the fragmented, individualising forces that had shaped political life for the past few decades – instead, it organized its supporters on the basis of their common, communal experience via collective decision-making aimed at rolling back (a) the austerity-driven cutbacks in public services and (b) the home evictions of those unable to meet their mortgage payments. More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Merkel, Refugees And The Cologne Attacks

Huge pressure was already on Angela Merkel’s shoulders prior to the New Year celebrations. When it came in its waves of chaos on the eve, the security services in Cologne were found wanting. The police document from Cologne, leaked to Der Spiegel, speaks of chaos and lack of control. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news