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

 

Gordon Campbell: On The Crisis In Greece

Greece, as the cradle of democracy, is getting no brownie points for actually practicing it. The decision by the Greek government to go back to the people for a mandate for the bailout terms being proposed by the Eurozone seems entirely appropriate. More>>

ALSO:

Stories Of Scoop: Alastair Thompson, Scoop Media & The Cost Of Free Journalism

How does a news organization that cares about authentic journalism and has a mission to effect “positive change” continue to operate in these times of derivative storytelling when advertising dollars are no longer determined by the quality of editorial content? More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Pope’s Encyclical On Climate Change

The spread of market mechanisms into every facet of life – as health, education and the environment get treated as mere commodities – has seen economic efficiency worshipped in its own right as a totem, and as a substitute for morality. The Laudato Si encyclical issued today by Pope Francis on climate change and the environment goes some away to restoring a sane balance. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Turns Sixteen: How Scoop's “Ethical Paywall” Model Has Changed Everything

As of this month, a broad range of professional organisations, including constitutional institutions, government agencies & departments, NGOs, Unions, CRIs, law firms, PR agencies, accountancy firms, media organisations, libraries and businesses - all of which make regular use of Scoop in their daily work and for professional research - have joined Scoop’s new “Ethical Paywall” copyright licensing scheme. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell:
On The Sepp Blatter Resignation

Any initial elation at Sepp Blatter’s resignation as the overlord of FIFA will be tempered by his declared intention to stay on until at least December and possibly March 2016, to enable his successor to be elected. Has FIFA got no existing succession plan that could kick in before this? More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The FIFA Scandal, And Similar Dirty Deal

With the US now investigating FIFA’s racketeering and money-laundering activities and the Swiss also looking at the bribes that went into the choice of Russia and Qatar as upcoming FIFA venues, the capos at FIFA are taking the fall for the boss of all bosses, Sepp Blatter - who has somehow been blissfully unaware of the dirty payoffs and extortion rackets conducted on his watch ... More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news