Does she still stand by her statement, when asked how she expects well-intentioned, honest, ordinary New Zealanders to understand the Electoral Finance Bill, that “One expects people to read it carefully and to consult lawyers”?
Yes, if they expect to spend big money like the member does on electioneering.
Does the Prime Minister accept that what constitutes an electoral advertisement is so unclear and so highly debatable that groups opposed to Government policies are going to be told by their lawyers to shut up completely over the whole of the election year; and is that not exactly what the Government wanted all the way along, to silence its critics?
Why is it her Government’s policy that for someone like Tim Shadbolt to spend $300,000 in January next year using the slogan “Bring down the Government” will constitute a corrupt practice in the law, for which Mr Shadbolt could lose his mayoralty, be sent to prison for up to 2 years, and be fined up to $100,000?
I am sure that when Mayor Tim is more fully acquainted with the facts, there will be no such need.
Why will Tim Shadbolt not be subject to the law this Government is going to pass this afternoon, which quite clearly says that if someone, as a third party, spends over $120,000 in the electoral period using the slogan “Bring down the Government”—which the Electoral Commission has already indicated would mean the Labour Government—that person would be in breach of the law; and maybe the person who does not understand the law is not Tim Shadbolt but is actually the Prime Minister?
I would hope that the Leader of the Opposition would be advising people to follow the law, not dodge it as he did with regard to the Exclusive Brethren.
Well, is that not exactly the point: if Mr Shadbolt follows the law he can spend $120,000, and if he spends more than $120,000 he will be subject to a fine of $40,000, will potentially go to jail for 2 years, and will lose his mayoralty; and is that because the Government cannot hack criticism any more?
The National Party managed to exceed the allowable limit last time and, as far as I can see, the Leader of the Opposition is not in jail.
If the Prime Minister wants New Zealanders to have freedom of speech, and if she is happy for people like Tim Shadbolt to run their cases in the court of public opinion, why is she going to have legislation passed this afternoon that will limit Tim Shadbolt’s campaign to $120,000 or less—and she should not shake her head, because she knows that that is the truth?
What I know about the truth is that Tim Shadbolt can run as many issues as he likes.
Does the Prime Minister agree that any concerns held by the community about campaign finance law reform are best resolved by a wide-ranging, open, and primarily democratic process of review?
As the member knows, it is the Government’s intention, supported by the Greens and New Zealand First, I understand, and by United Future, to have a review of campaign funding.
Where has this country got to, when a blind vendetta led by her Government sees somebody like Tim Shadbolt, a man standing up for his community, potentially being packed off to jail; and is that the reason this Government is increasingly becoming so unpopular that even its own supporters do not like it any more?
If the Leader of the Opposition wants to give the Mayor of Invercargill some advice, he should please tell him that he can spend as much as he likes on issues advertising.
Can the Prime Minister explain, then, why Mr Shadbolt will not be in breach of the law if next year he spends in excess of $120,000 on a campaign where his advertisements are headed with the slogan “Bring down the Government”?
No, you did not, and the Inland Revenue Department should be prosecuting you. The Inland Revenue Department should be prosecuting you, because you have not paid it.
Would the member please be seated; I am on my feet. This cross-chat across the Chamber leads to disorder. Would the member please just ask his supplementary question.
I have just said that that sort of behaviour leads to disorder. I will be asking members to leave the House if it happens again.
Which division of law covers the issue of free speech: the electoral law, or the censorship, copyright, and defamation laws of this country; which of the two divisions are we talking about when we talk about free speech in New Zealand?