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National’s cup runneth over – whose paying?

Thursday, 2 November 2006

National’s cup runneth over – but who pays the piper?

Green Media Release 2nd November 2006

The National Party’s new expensive billboard campaign is yet more evidence of the need for greater transparency around political party donations, says the Green Party.

National has new large billboards at Christchurch and Auckland airports and they also attempted to hire one at Wellington airport but were refused permission.

“National clearly has a lot of money to splash around on expensive attack billboards. My estimate is that it would cost around $70,000 to $90,000 per month to rent that amount of billboard space at the three airports,” says Russel Norman, Green Co-Leader.

“The question is where is this money coming from? Most of National’s millions comes via donations channelled through blind trusts. So the public has no idea who is funding the National Party,” Dr Norman says, also the Greens’ Spokesperson on Electoral Matters.

“There is an old saying that the one who pays the piper calls the tune. Who is calling the tune of the National Party? Who will have the ear of the National Party if they were to form part of the next Government?

“In the United States and Australia there are restrictions on donating anonymously to political parties. Why should we put up with a second-rate donations system that undermines our democracy here?

“We need reform of political party financing to ensure that donations over a certain minimum, say $250, must be from an identified individual or corporation.

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“In addition, during the election campaign we need continuous weekly or even daily declaration of political donations, as they do in the UK. Currently parties in New Zealand only need declare their donations once per year, so the public don’t know who funded the parties’ election campaigns until the following year (and not even then in the case of National because of the secretive trusts).

“And we need to keep the cap on the amount that political parties can spend in election campaigns so that they don’t become a contest to see who has the most money.

“If National has nothing to hide then they should support reform of campaign financing.”

ENDS


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