Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search - 29 August 2008 - 29 August 2008

A Weekly Report from the Keyboard of Murray McCully MP for East Coast Bays

A Huge Week

They say that a week is a long time in politics. Well, that expression simply doesn’t come close to encapsulating the scale of the seismic events that have occurred this week. The tectonic plates of New Zealand politics have shuddered in realignment. The balance has profoundly changed. And the week isn’t over yet.

For those who have turned to their favourite weekly journal in expectation of insightful dissection of the week’s events, disappointment is in store. The humble Member for East Coast Bays is currently serving on Parliament’s Privileges Committee. An open mind and a closed mouth are both essential prerequisites to such service.

What can be safely said is that the current Parliament has almost run its course. The final stages of the Emissions Trading Scheme legislation, and a minor legislative tidy-up under urgency next week, will set the scene for the valedictories and other concluding formalities in the following week. This Government, and this Prime Minister in particular, will have no appetite for sustained Parliamentary scrutiny in the weeks ahead.

Already it is clear that the dominant issue of the coming election campaign is whether the country is ready for a serious change in direction. The best international economic conditions of many decades have come to an end – largely squandered by a government fixated with wealth re-distribution, and utterly blind to the need for wealth creation. And a tired, grumpy, increasingly discredited Clark Government is stumbling towards the dissolution of the current Parliament.

More Voting with their Feet

The most recent migration statistics from our Government Statistician serve to highlight the need for a change in political direction. In the year to July 80,872 New Zealanders packed their bags and headed overseas for good. That’s a whopping 1,555 people per week. Or 222 people per day. Or one every six and a half minutes. The greatest loss since 1979 and the second highest since records began.

The largest beneficiary, as always, was Australia. 40,971 of our brightest and best headed across the Tasman. That’s 879 New Zealanders crossing the ditch for good each and every week. Or 126 per day. More than one person every eleven and a half minutes. The highest annual loss of people ever recorded by this country. That’s one hell of an export industry in enterprising, aspirational New Zealanders.

When average after-tax wages are now one third higher in Australia than in this country, it is hard to blame skilled, numerate individuals for making the choice to move. And the problem will keep getting bigger. Dr David Skilling of the New Zealand Institute points out that on current trends average incomes in Australia will be 60% higher than those in this country by 2030. At that point, the game will be well and truly over. How very revealing that no one in our current Government appears to be particularly worried by the exodus.

Licence for Third Party Activity

This week’s High Court decision, upholding the decision of the Electoral Commission to register the Labour Party’s largest union backer, the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU), as a third party under the Electoral Finance Act (EFA) creates licence for a flurry of similar third party campaign activity. The decision makes a nonsense of the EFA provision designed to stop political parties from spawning a raft of supportive third party groups, each of which would be allowed to spend $120,000 attacking their political opponents.

In essence, the High Court has held that it would not lightly revisit the judgment of the Commission. And so long as the Commission had turned its mind to whether a group was merely influencing the decisions of a political party, rather than controlling them, the Commission’s decision could stand. The EPMU certainly influenced the affairs of the Labour Party, but did not control them. It was therefore open to the Commission to find that the EPMU was not “involved in the administration of the affairs” of the Labour Party.

A narrow interpretation of the EFA it may be. But if that is the decision of the High Court in relation to the EPMU and the Labour Party, the same goes for other political parties and their friends. So, folks, this is your chance. Collect a few shekels together from your mates and register your very own third party under the EFA. Preferably one with an exotic, anti-Clark Government name or acronym.

The EFA will be a dead duck after this Election. So this is your one and only chance to run your very own third party anti-Labour campaign under this uniquely discredited piece of legislation. Act now or you will miss the chance of a lifetime. And don’t worry about where you will find the creative ideas for the necessary attack ads and anti- Labour billboards. The worldwide headquarters of will provide all communications services for free.


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