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PM should say why she’s right and everyone wrong

Don Brash MP
National Party Leader

23 August 2006

PM should say why she’s right and everyone else is wrong

“Helen Clark should use today’s general debate in Parliament to explain why her unique interpretation of the rules around election spending is right, and all the official advice is wrong,” says National Party Leader Don Brash.

“Four official bodies have found Labour in the wrong. The Auditor General is merely the latest in a long line to find Labour’s pledge card spending a breach of the rules.”

In a letter to Mike Smith, Secretary of the Labour then chief electoral officer David Henry said the pledge card ‘clearly encourages…voters to vote for the Labour Party’. He believed that the cards were therefore election material, and that ‘the expenses of these publications should be included in your return of election expenses.’

In the letter referring the matter of the pledge card to the Police, the Electoral Commission backed up this view by saying that prima facie ‘there had been expenditure which was over the maximum amount that the party was permitted to spend.’

In his recent opinion for the Auditor-General, the Solicitor General said ‘electioneering material is something that is intended to persuade a voter to favour a candidate or party in an election, and it is not necessary for advertising or publicity to expressly solicit a vote for it to fall into this category.’

And now the Auditor General says ‘if an electioneering purpose can be ascertained from looking at the communication as a whole… then the communication is outside the scope of the appropriation.’

Dr Brash says the overwhelming view from officials is that Labour broke the rules and did so knowingly.

“So today I challenge Helen Clark to take a slot in the general debate and tell the public of New Zealand why they should trust her interpretation rather than the views of several independent officials who had nothing to gain from reaching the conclusions they have.

“For Helen Clark, this is all about self preservation, and the pursuit of power at any cost. It casts a dark shadow across all of Parliament.

“Labour was clearly warned to watch its taxpayer funded advertising in the three months before the election. It was briefed ‘extensively’ by the Auditor General on the rules that would apply.

“New Zealand politics has long been free of corruption, but Helen Clark’s defence of this blatant rort further undermines that reputation,” says Dr Brash.


Ends

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