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Nats want to buy elections

Nats want to buy elections

Labour MP Pete Hodgson said today that National’s rantings about political advertising is little more than an attempt to skew the system in the favour of themselves and their friends in big business and obscure religious sects.

“This issue is not about National playing by the rules and Labour not - National produced plenty of taxpayer-funded material for use in the campaign. This issue is not about National wanting to protect the sanctity of taxpayers’ money – National is being investigated by the police for spending $100,000 over their limit on broadcast ads.

“This is all about National wanting to engineer a public mood against taxpayer funding for political parties. This is because it knows it would enjoy a considerable advantage with its generous big business and Exclusive Brethren backers.

“As the last election showed, National’s happy to have its Exclusive Brethren backers spending anywhere between $500,000 and $1 million on pro-National publicity which they absurdly claim is unauthorised, unattributable expenditure. That’s the sort of unregulated and unfair environment National prefers.

“New Zealand has developed a system of modest funding for political parties, and rules around how those funds can be used, precisely to prevent a single party buying its way into power backed by narrow interest groups.

“As the election expenditure returns show, we do enjoy a relatively level playing field. Compared with other countries, New Zealand political parties spend relatively little on election advertising.

“National hates the constraints and the fact there is a relatively level playing field. National wants to be able to outspend parties, like Labour, which do not have access to the big business funders and the Exclusive Brethren which bankroll and support National.

“This is a serious issue: does New Zealand want a system like – in the United States – where only the seriously wealthy can ever afford the considerable sums needed to run for public office? Or do we want a system where every New Zealander, regardless of wealth, has the opportunity to run for public office?” Pete Hodgson said.

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