Plain English - 20 October 2006
20 October 2006
They Got Away With It
In the heat of controversy in parliament this week the media missed the issue at the heart of it all. Labour spent about $2.8 million on the 2005 election campaign when the legal limit was $2.3 million, and they got away with it. And they could do it again. The police investigated but didn't prosecute because they did not understand the law, and they appeared to be concerned a prosecution might upset the election results. MP's who overspend their campaign limit get chucked out of Parliament, and prosecuting the government might have had the same results. Helen Clark has shown the election campaign spending cap can't be enforced. Political parties have never before considered breaching the cap, and certainly not in such a calculated manner. Helen Clark has called the bluff and won.
Labour's ingenuity for avoiding accountability knows no bounds. The money Labour has been forced to pay back came from Helen Clark's Leader's budget to pay for Labour's parliamentary activities. The overspend was approved by Heather Simpson, the Chief of Staff in Helen Clark's office. The Speaker has ruled National can't ask questions about Simpson's activities despite the fact she sits in the Prime Minister's office, on a large public salary and all her costs are met by the taxpayer. Apparently when Ms Simpson does anything dodgy Helen Clark says Simpson is not the Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister's office, but an official in the Office of the Leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party and Helen Clark has no ministerial responsibility for the Labour Party. So the second most powerful person in the land is beyond any public accountability.
It's Worth The Fight
National has fought hard on this issue because it betrays the character of the government. This week revealed Labour's fierce and ugly sense of entitlement to power, control and public money. They broke the rules and then used all the power and privilege of public office to deny wrongdoing, bully law enforcement agencies and then legislate to cover it up. Labour believes it is entitled to this money and then to use it in any way to further Labour's interest, not the public interest. Labour's sense of entitlement effects a thousand decisions that aren't illegal or spectacular, they believe they are entitled to billions of dollars of excess tax and they can use it. The fact that they still believe they did nothing wrong shows how deeply entrenched the sense of entitlement is.