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Labour bullies watchdog on brochures

Bill English MP
National Party Deputy Leader

6 June 2008

Labour bullies watchdog on brochures

Papers released under the Official Information Act reveal Labour attempted to bully electoral watchdogs over the controversial tax-funded brochure which is now the subject of a police inquiry.

National Party Deputy Leader Bill English says an aggressive letter from Labour Party Secretary Mike Smith also reveals Labour politicians were saying one thing in public, but the Party was doing something else behind the scenes.

“You can’t trust Labour when it comes to electoral law.”

Labour Party Secretary Mike Smith wrote to the Electoral Commission on April 8, to dispute its ruling that the Labour brochure was in breach of the law.

The letter says: 'I would ask that a correction be entered on the Commission website, clearly indicating that any alleged breach was not a breach by the Labour Party. I would also like to take the opportunity to make submissions to the Commission regarding the way in which it handles the application of the law in relation to political parties'.

Mr English says that leaves Labour with a “credibility problem”, because two days after the letter was sent, Justice Minister Annette King was telling the public that Labour accepted the Commission’s ruling.

On April 10, Annette King told Parliament: ‘The general secretary of the Labour Party has already said in the election advertisement that it is attributable to the party expenses, or will be attributed’. And that: ‘The secretary of the Labour Party has decided that this particular booklet … will be apportioned against Labour Party expenses’.

Mr English says Labour has been exposed telling the public one thing, and doing another.

“Mr Smith was also the official who told the Electoral Commission in the run-up to the last election, that Labour would include the pledge card as an election expense, before changing his mind after the election.

“That illegal spending was later validated with retrospective legislation.”

Mr English says the Labour Party needs to explain the different stories.

ENDS

Attached: Letter from Mike Smith to Electoral Commission – 2 pages. (Word doc)

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