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National’s covert politics

15 October 2006

National’s covert politics

Labour strategist Pete Hodgson says that Labour is committed to stronger laws and rules to ensure that National’s attempts to rort last year’s election cannot be repeated.

“National tried to rort the 2005 election in five ways," Pete Hodgson said.

1. National broke the legal limit on broadcast advertising by treating the cap as GST exclusive rather than inclusive. This rort allowed National to spend considerably more on television and radio advertising than it was allowed. They have yet to pay the money they owe.

2. National colluded with the Exclusive Brethren to devise a smear campaign against Labour and the Greens that was specifically designed to avoid being attributable to National's election expenditure. The Exclusive Brethren promised $1.2 million towards the smear campaign.

3. National raised almost $2 million in donations in 2005, of which 92 per cent were funded anonymously, raising serious concerns for the transparency of the political process.

4. National, we have been told, deliberately spent its parliamentary funding in a way which eluded scrutiny by using it to pay for election staffers and strategists. No one knows the precise details because Dr Brash refuses to disclose them.

5. National spent a considerable amount – exactly how much is another closely held National secret – on a massive billboard and advertising campaign prior to the three months of the campaign. If that spending is added to what it spent within the three month campaign period, National spent considerably more than any other party.

“National’s 2005 election campaign can be characterised by secrecy and subterfuge, backed by anonymous wealthy backers who refuse to be identified.

“That is not a healthy situation. The government is now drafting legislation to bring greater transparency to political funding and campaigns. Clear rules are also needed governing parliamentary funding for parliamentary parties.

“Politics is a public business and it requires transparency. National is opposed to that because they want to repeat their 2005 rorts next time, which is why they are hostile to every initiative to ensure our political system is open to all, transparent, and clean,” Pete Hodgson said.

ENDS

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