by John Boscawen
Im John Boscawen. For the last week, the prime minister has chosen to attack me rather than answer my question of why she is defying the Human Rights Commission in ramming through the Electoral Finance Bill.
So Ill answer her. Then maybe shell answer me. Im a member of Act, but I dont always toe the party line. I gave up being the partys fundraiser over 18 months ago. As Helen Clark well knows, I support some of her Labour governments policies, including Kiwisaver (which Act does not).
But on the Electoral Finance Bill, I side squarely with Act, National, the Maori Party, the Law Society and most importantly of all the Human Rights Commission.
More on that in a minute.
First, the Greens and Labour seem to think its important that I confess to being an associate member of the Business Roundtable.
I do so proudly.
I feel honoured to be able to debate the issues of the day with so many great New Zealand leaders, innovators, risk-takers and job creators.
My campaign against the Electoral Finance Bill is nothing to do with the Business Roundtable.
Id been an associate member for less than two months when I first made my submission on this bill, and I have sought and received no funding from the Business Roundtable whatsoever.
I should also tell you Ive been a Rotarian for seven years, and a trustee of the Auckland Philharmonia Foundation for two years.
Above all, Im a proud and passionate New Zealander. And I find it sad to see our own Human Rights Commission just totally ignored.
Ive run a month-long radio and newspaper campaign against the Electoral Finance Bill.
Ive been totally open and transparent about it.
Ive now spent about $180,000 on this campaign, of which $40,000 has been donated by others.
Over $5000 of that $40,000 came from simply passing around the bucket at our two Auckland rallies, attended in total by over 7000 people.
(Incidentally, if Id collected the $5000 next year, it would have counted as an anonymous donation. Id have had to forfeit it to the government.)
I appreciate the financial support Ive had and thank all those whove helped me. Anyone else wanting to assist me may do so simply by posting a cheque to the Freedom of Speech Trust, Box 42-267, Orakei, Auckland.
Im trying to create awareness of the bills draconian provisions, and to highlight the opposition of the Human Rights Commission which the government and, incredibly, the Greens and NZ First, continue to ignore.
Ive never run a campaign like this, or spent anything like this, before in my life. However I dont believe you can put a price on democracy.
I believe the proposed Electoral Finance Bill strikes at the very heart of our democracy.
It makes campaigns like this illegal next year, and then one year in three after that.
The government does not want you to hear what the Human Rights Commission and I are saying. It does not want to be held to account in election year.
The Human Rights Commission wants you to be as informed as possible about the parties who seek your vote. The government wants to impose censorship, and stop other parties communicating with you.
Helen Clark brazenly said on Newstalk ZB on 19 November that I think you will find that every issue that the Human Rights Commission raised has been addressed.
Its true that the Human Rights Commission agrees with the broad aims of the bill to promote greater transparency. So do I and many others.
But her government continues to defy the Commission on three vital points.
|Point one:||The Human Rights Commission called for the bill to be withdrawn. They foresaw that it was so badly flawed it would need too many changes.
Your governments response? Never mind human rights, never mind that the bill is unworkable, ram it through.
|Point two:||The Chief Commissioner said in her oral submission to the select committee on 18 October that it is essential that any changes be subject to the widest possible public scrutiny.
Your governments response? To subject the changes to the narrowest possible public scrutiny by refusing the Commissioners call for another round of public submissions.
|Point three:||The big one. The restriction that muzzles the governments critics for longer than in any similar democracy
On 18 October, the Human Rights Commission said that it was essential the present regulatory period [for election advertising] of 3 months is retained and not extended to a potential 11 months.
Your governments response? To ignore their own Human Rights Commission. Go with 11 months.
This, Kiwis, is your Prime Ministers idea of addressing every issue.
My contribution of $140,000 is less than a third of the $500,000 that expatriate Owen Glenn gave to Labour before the 2005 election.
He was extremely generous and I support his right to be so. It is called democracy. Our parents and grandparents fought for it.
I think this weeks attacks on me by Labour and the Greens treat the people of New Zealand with total contempt.
Surely they have a duty to the public of New Zealand to explain why they continue to ignore and defy their own Human Rights Commission.
If nothing else, surely they owe it at least to their own supporters to explain why.
If youre a supporter of any of the parties supporting this bill (Labour, NZ First, the Greens and United Future), why dont you take just a few minutes and send them an email,
or write to them all at
Freepost, Parliament Buildings, Wellington
Simply ask why they continue to defy our Human Rights Commission.
If they dont answer your question properly, send them a second.
Its not illegal to ignore our Human Rights Commission. But if thats what they want to do, surely they should just own up, be honest and admit it without having to attack me instead?
Even if youre not a supporter of any of these parties, why not march to your computer now and send them an email and tell them what you think.
Surely thats the least you can do to try to help protect our democracy?
The Chief Human Rights Commissioner, former unionist Rosslyn Noonan, has been very strong and courageous. She has stood up to the government that appointed her. Lets show her we support her. Its still not too late for the government to withdraw this bill.
Authorised by John Boscawen, Box 42-267, Orakei, Auckland email@example.com
Get Answer my question, Prime Minister! as a PDF file here.