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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Bulk fund MPs

After writing about a thousand words on reforming MP's support funding with numerous links and quotes the browser spazzed and everything was lost... so since I can't be bothered retracing the trauma, here's the gist:

MPs get an average each of $132,000 pa through Parliamentary Services to spend on staff, research, stationery etc. Some is pooled into a Leader's fund, others for out-of-parliament expenses etc. The report into it last year is the biggest load of bollocks ever and is a case study in bureaucratic pap and excuses to grow even more bloated: they have approx. 550 staff, 220 of which are out of parliament. If you see a piece of electioneering with the parliamentary seal, you know it's funded by them (which ironically enough includes the Act party website where you can probably read about why it is so bad). If the propoganda (and staff for that matter) do not solicit membership or money it is generally speaking legit.

For transparency's sake and to stop the bloody perennial bickering about what campaigns are party/election and which are legitimate (the most recent is Act's criticism of the Labour party bus shelter ads) I suggest just giving them all $100,000 each pa. and they can do absolutely anything they want with it with no set allocations. No distinction between electorate and list either, I don't care about how they have to service their damn constituency - so do list MPs - they all should get the exact same amount. A nice simple formula.

If Nandor wants to smoke it all: fine. If Winston wants to smoke it all: fine. If the Greens want to have a huge internet presence and blow it all on that: fine. If someone wants to spend it all on staff, then that's up to them. The current system is prone to dodgieness, a la Pipitea St (for those in the know). Parliamentary Services should look after Parliament and not what MPs get up to out in the wops. The Service's attempted hijacking of exclusive TV coverage of parliament is symptomatic of their bloat. The report also said they want to take on leasing of premises etc. They are an expansionist entity and should be stopped. The excuses they use for not bulk-funding are utterly spurious.

And as for the Electoral Commission allocation of ten grand to the National Front! Any system that lets that happen is in desperate need of reform. They are not even a registered political party! [UPDATE: Asher said..."The $10,000 granted to the National Front was on the condition that they became a registered party, which they failed to do as they got nowhere near 500 members" - that's even worse, isn't it? Bending over backwards to help them!] .So I suggest a nice simple formula for that too: In election year each registered party gets $1 for every vote they got in the last election.


At 15/6/05 1:41 pm, Blogger Asher said...

The $10,000 granted to the National Front was on the condition that they became a registered party, which they failed to do as they got nowhere near 500 members.

At 16/6/05 9:44 am, Blogger shadowfoot said...

Instead of giving them money, just cap the amounts they can spend and let them raise their own money.

At 16/6/05 3:24 pm, Blogger t selwyn said...

Shadowfoot: I have some sympathy with your idea (I assume you mean for elections rather than for office support).

I think the amounts are capped for both individual electorate candidates and parties. But I don't believe in that sort of capping restriction (they extended it to local body candidates a few years back). The argument is that parties or candidates can "buy" an election, however Act spends the most of any party ($1.6m?) and still only gets about 7%, whereas NZ First spends a lot less and has cracked 10%. Dick Hubbard also spent within the limit and won substantially against a candidate whose own campaign organiser has admitted to expending resources that any reasonable person could conclude was above the limit (if I can put it that way). Oh, and of course Hubbard isn't a cunt.

The other problem is that with no money from the state at all, the parties will be "bought" by their funders.

I think the US has a "matching" system whereby a party/candidate can opt-in to a capping regime so that their dollars are matched by the federal govt. up to the limit. But with their huge machines and $2,500-a-plate dinners (Steven Ching eat-your-heart-out) they can still raise more by staying out of the system.


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