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Harawira: Electoral FInance Bill

ELECTORAL FINANCE BILL

"The sweet scent of power, and the lust for control'.

Third Reading – Tuesday 18 December 2007; 4.30pm

Hone Harawira, Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau


Over these last few months of intense and passionate debate about this Electoral Finance Bill, one email stood out for me, because it said a lot about who we are as a Maori Party. I paraphrase part of that email here:

- We are not members of the Exclusive Brethren.

- We are not members of the ACT party.

- We are not members of the National party.

- We are not members of John Boscawen’s team as Helen Clark scathingly, and incorrectly, called those who marched in Auckland against this Bill.

Madam Speaker, we are the Maori Party, and I welcome this opportunity to set the record straight on our party’s position on this Bill.

We are the Maori Party, and contrary to government’s claims, this Bill is not being attacked only “by those New Zealanders who are able to pour thousands of dollars into electioneering campaigns to buy influence in government”.

We are the Maori Party, with nothing behind us save the tens of thousands of voters who put us here and our absolute commitment to their well-being, and I tell you now that we are opposed to this Electoral Finance Bill.

We are the Maori Party, with not a bean to our name, but still we turned down $250,000 rather than compromise our independence, and for the same reasons, we are opposed to this Bill.

We are the Maori Party, and we were angry with the both the divisive “IWI / KIWI” campaign run by National, and the nasty “A VOTE FOR THE MAORI PARTY IS A VOTE FOR NATIONAL” campaign run by Labour, because we didn’t have the wherewithal to counteract either, and yet still, we are opposed to this Bill.

We are the Maori Party, with not a bean to our name, but we stand free in this House, answerable to none but our people, uncompromised by shady deals with either of the major parties, and we are proud to say, that we are opposed to this Electoral Finance Bill.

Yes, Madam Speaker, like most New Zealanders, we were horrified at the revelations of secret trust accounts, and the millions of dollars being spent by other groups in support of the campaigns of both Labour and National.

And yes, Madam Speaker, we agree that Parliament should pass laws, to prevent the undue influence that lobbyists can have on our electoral process.

But unlike Labour, our focus is not only on the rich, the very rich and the obscenely rich, because we also saw unions spending heaps of money to undermine us at the last election; a classic third party attack trying to link Maori Party votes with National, when in fact our voting pattern has always been more in line, with that of the Greens.

And, I’m proud to say, that regardless of all the big money offered to us, and the nasty underhand tactics used against us, the Maori Party stands by its kaupapa of opposing corruption, opposing illegality, and opposing the abuse of power in all its forms.

And yes, the Exclusive Brethren’s million dollar anti-Labour, anti-Greens campaign was beyond the pale, but I can’t help but smell the filthy, stench of hypocrisy from the Labour Party in this attack on the Brethren.

Because it wasn’t the Exclusive Brethren who the police had prima facie evidence of electoral finance mismanagement on was it? Hell no. It was the Labour Party!!

Remember that everybody? The cops said they had a prima facie case of electoral mismanagement against the Prime Minister’s very own private secretary, but didn’t want to press charges against an individual for what was clearly the work of a group of people.

And it was that very same Labour Party who then set up a special deal with their mates to rewrite the law, to let them keep doing what they did last time, while gagging the voices of the opposition.

Madam Speaker, make no mistake, the Maori Party stands firmly against the kind of overwhelming financial firepower, that only parties like National can boast of.

But as we sit hear and listen to all the doomsayers from Labour prattle on about the destructive power of overseas influence, let me just point out to anyone who thinks that our governments aren’t already controlled by overseas interests, that they need only look at the Waihopai Spybase to realise that our nation’s security, indeed our nations very sovereignty, is already compromised by the existence of a super-secret operation to spy on the people of the Pacific, right here on New Zealand soil, controlled not from Wellington, but from Washington.

And for those of you who think that money wins elections – take a look at the good old US of A, where three years ago, billionaire Democrat Norman Lear and his mates, spent more than $50 million to try to push George Bush out of office, and buy the election for John Kerry. Well that didn’t work too well did it? George Bush is now President Bush and John Kerry is John who …?

And what about the senior Republican Senator who spent $42 million on his election race … and still came second.

Yes folks money talks, but nothing talks quite like the truth, and the truth about this Bill is that it’s nothing but an arrogant dismissal by this Labour-led government to deny the citizens of Aotearoa / New Zealand the right to participate in one of the fundamental rights of any so-called “democratic society” – how you elect your government.

And no – we will not be fobbed off by any talk about how this is only about election finances, because it ain’t.

If this was only about election finances, then why did this Labour government push through special legislation to validate their $800,000 over-spend at the last election, rather than let the legal process take its natural course?

If this was only about election finances, then why didn’t this Labour government ask the Auditor General and the Electoral Commission, to present a range of options for public consideration, and presentation to the House?

If this was only about election finances, then how come the Human Rights Commission says this Bill is a dramatic assault on fundamental human rights – freedom of expression, and the right to participate in the election process?

If this was only about election finances, then how come the Human Rights Commission says that even this rewritten, flea-bitten, revised and patched-up version should still have been given back to the public for full discussion and debate?

I’ll tell you why Madam Speaker, it’s because this ain’t just about election finances.

It’s about the sweet scent of power, and the lust for control. It’s about the decadence of corruption, the stench of deceit, and the refusal to accept the reality of impending defeat.

Yes, there have been amendments, hell we even voted for one of them, but given the constitutional importance of legislation that will play a critical role in determining how the next election will be fought – stitching up this deal behind closed doors, and then adding a veneer of democracy through a select committee process, is nothing but a sick joke.

Mind you, this government denying the people of Aotearoa the right to open and public debate on the process by which we manage the next election, is right up there, with their changing the law to bypass any serious questioning of their expenditure, at the last election.

Madam Speaker, the Maori Party will not be party to a bill which is clearly aimed at restricting freedom of speech.

We will not be party to this desperate attempt by Labour to stay in power at the expense of the fundamental human rights of the citizens of this country.

We will not be party to a bill designed to put fear into those who would speak their mind, by forcing them to run the gauntlet of registration, audit, notification, financial agency, monitoring, reporting, scrutiny, and penalty.

And we will not be party to a bill that slams the door on opposition spending, while allowing government to continue to spend millions on promoting its own policies and programmes.

Madam Speaker, the Maori Party was borne out of Maoridom’s absolute rejection of this Labour government’s arrogant denial of our basic human rights to the foreshore and seabed.

And we will reject this Bill to rewrite the law to allow that same government to stay in power - with the same vigour and determination.

Madam Speaker, money is not what drives people to vote, it is truth …

And I sincerely hope and pray, that those who have sacrificed the truth for the delusion of power, that overwhelms this decadent and depraved piece of legislation, will come to see the folly of their ways when the people reject this sham, come Election 2008.


ENDS

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