"Only one party did not flout the law, and I am leading it in this House. We did not use public money for our advertisements, we did not run a GST rort, and we did not try to use public money voted for one purpose to pay for our own purposes. Undoubtedly, the Progressives were disadvantaged when we opted to play within the rules. I have not come into this Chamber and trumpeted that we alone were obeying the laws, because we did only what was right. It sticks in the throat to hear the National Party pretending it cares about democracy, when its record is sleazy and opportunistic. I say to the National members that they should not get on their high horses about democracy until they have clean hands. This legislation makes a simple choice about our democracy. Who should own our democracy: big money or the people of New Zealand? We cannot have it both ways. Where the anonymous big money goes, the interests of the people come second.
I want to ask everyone who is opposed to this bill a question: why should anyone be allowed to do what the Exclusive Brethren did in my electorate in the last election? They came into my electorate on the Friday before the election, the day before that Saturday, and they bought a full page ad in the local newspaper. The ad told complete lies about my record in the electorate and my political position on policy matters. They distributed that false advertisement on that Friday night to every household in the electorate. The address given in the ad was fake and the people behind it tried to remain anonymous, but we found out that they were church people. That ad was published the day before the election when it was far too late to respond and reply. It was an attempt to buy an election with money instead of with truth and ideas. I want to know how fair that is. How is that democratic? How is it fair and democratic that people who do not identify themselves can spend as much as they like to sway the result of an election?
I support the Electoral Finance Bill because elections should not be decided by the largest wallet. I support the Electoral Finance Bill because it is about ensuring that no one can buy an election result. I support the Electoral Finance Bill because the best ideas should win, not the best-funded ones. I want to remind this House of what happened when money had its way in New Zealand in the 1980s and 1990s. We saw a fire sale of our assets. Was it just a coincidence that the people who were buying those assets at knock-down, fire-sale prices were the same people who handed out tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of dollars to the political parties doing the selling? We saw the interests of New Zealand put in second place, and we are still paying the price for it."
And could Jim Anderton's change of heart have anything to do with the decision of the Electoral Commission to refer a complaint against the Progressives for a breach of the EFA to the police?