The one part of the Jami-Lee Ross saga that I thought was positive was that the government is going to look at changing the rules over political donations.
My issue is that whether you have the best policies becomes irrelevant if you haven’t the resources to sell them. On the other hand if a person or organisation doesn’t like a party’s policies it can pour resources into the opposition to try and prevent them happening.
Fortunately New Zealand isn’t in the same league as the United States of America when it comes to political donations. By comparison we’re amateurs. We do take pride in our democracy, however, and to me that means cleaning up the political donations mess.
My issue with political donations is simple. All over a certain level and that level needs to be a lot smaller than the current amount should be public. I don’t accept the privacy issue. If a person or group wants to support a particular political party I believe I have a right to know who is doing it. After that I’m possibly in a position to answer why.
Ruth Richardson told me years ago that the way to affect National Party policy was through the funding chain.
That is possibly true of all parties.
The issue is no-one knows what deals are done and why and we have a right to know.
Politics should be open and not controlled by back room deals that everyone is blissfully unaware of.
Putting some of the issues to you.
If a person wants New Zealand citizenship a $50,000 political donation is a cheap way of getting it.
It someone wants recognition in the honours list the same applies.
If a person wants to purchase a NZ property a $100,000 dollar donation would be cheap.
If a foreign power wanted to manipulate the NZ election a $ million donation to the preferred party is a cheap way of control.
I’ve heard the argument about public funding of political parties. I don’t have a philosophical problem with that. The issue I do have is that the system is still open to manipulation.
What I’d like to see is an independent auditor with absolute power over political parties books who can monitor all money in and out and report to parliament.
We do it with our security services so why can we do the same with political parties?