Democracy Attacks Back
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The Free Speech Coalition has launched a billboard campaign today against the parties which voted for the Electoral Finance Act.
"The Electoral Finance Act was correctly labeled by the New Zealand Herald as an "Attack on Democracy" so we think it is fitting that Democracy should attack back." Said spokesperson David Farrar
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Three billboards are initially going up. One in Auckland targeting Helen Clark, one in Tauranga for Winston Peters and one in Wellington for Peter Dunne. They are a clear statement that we regard their legislation as anti-democratic and unconstitutional. MPs are there to serve the public, not to silence the public.
As Peter Dunne did flip-flop at the last second and vote against at the final reading, we are considering amending the Wellington billboard. The original and revised billboards are attached and we are seeking feedback from the public as to which one they think should go up.
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We do not know whether these billboards will breach the Electoral Finance Act after 1 January. If they are deemed election advertisements which advocate against a party then we will be in breach of the law if we do not register as a third party. For that reason we yesterday filed a request with the Electoral Commission to register.
It is possible however they could be considered election advertisements advocating against a candidate. In that scenario the limit is $4,000 and we would be breaking the law to keep these billboards up in January. This just illustrates how unclear the new law is. The Coalition will be asking the Electoral Commission for advice as we do not wish to break the law.
We hope the public enjoy the billboards over summer. We only have funding to keep them up for a month but will be asking people to donate to keep them up longer, or to allow us to roll out more billboards in more cities.
ENDS *Contact: David Farrar, spokesperson for the Free Speech Coalition, 027 447 0216*
*Q&A on the Free Speech Coalition Billboards*
1. *Where are they going up?*
The Helen Clark billboard is was put up today near Auckland Airport at the corner of Kirkbride Road and George Bolt Drive. It is a 12x3 metre site. It was then hit by some obscure government policy which prohibits "controversial" ads on schools and was taken down despite a commercial contract in place for use of the site.
It is going back up 1.30 pm this afternoon on the corner of Carbine Road and the South-Eastern Highway, which incidentally is a far busier location.
The Winston Peters billboard will go up Thursday in Tauranga at the corner of Jean Batten Drive and Hewletts Road, Mt Maunganui.
The Wellington billboard goes up in early January on Jervois Quay, just north of Willeston Street.
1. *What is the rationale for each billboard?*
We have carefully selected an appropriate authoritarian for each billboard.
Helen Clark has been a trenchant critic of Fiji's Commodore Bainimarama for his unconstitutional activities. She fails to see the parallel with the Electoral Finance Bill which restricts criticism of her Government. Like Bairimarama she is convinced she is pursuing noble ends, and believes this justifies the means.
Winston Peters of course has just been to North Korea as a guest of their Dear Leader, Kim Jong-Il. We are sure his hosts would support the state restricting what citizens can say against the Government.
Peter Dunne has been an admirable champion of human rights for the Taiwanese, and the Greens likewise have admirably defended the human rights of Tibet. But for paying more attention to human rights overseas, and ignoring the NZ Human Rights Commission, the congratulations from Mao seem appropriate as it is a double standard he would be proud of.
*3. Some of those leaders have done terrible things. Are you saying the Government here is as bad as them?*
No, of course not. We are saying their forcing through of the Electoral Finance Bill against massive opposition and in breach of longstanding constitutional conventions is a step in the direction of authoritarianism, and that one step along that path is a step too far.
We note that both the Dominion Post and the NZ Herald have given out a Kim Jong-Il award this week, to a New Zealand MP. This is in a similar spirit as those awards.
4. *How much are the billboards costing and who paid for them?*
The three sites combined cost $7,000 for a month's rental. There are some production costs on top of that.
The Free Speech Coalition has had donations from scores of New Zealanders, and all donors get listed on our website at www.killthebill.org.nz
5. *How can people support the Free Speech Coalition*
By donating to allow us to keep running more billboards. Our creative team is ready and waiting to go. People can donate online with a credit card at www.killthebill.org.nz, can post donations to PO Box 12270, Thorndon, Wellington or do Internet Banking transfers into BNZ Account 02-0500-0908920-00