We blogged yesterday about the revelation that the Greens are paying people to collect signatures on the anti-asset sales petition, which we thought was being sponsored by Grey Power and the NZ University Students Associations. Clearly it's not; this is a Labour Party and Green Party initiative, dressed in a mixture of mature and urban clothes.
But it's not just in Christchurch that the Greens are having problems finding activists to get folk to sign "their" petition. They are advertising positions all around the country via their website for "Out-of-Parliament support for Green MP's"; here's what they were looking for:
Out-of-Parliament support for Green MPs
The Green Party seeks to appoint staff to assist MPs with their work outside Parliament.The positions will be based in Auckland (6 positions available), Wellington (3), Christchurch (2), Dunedin (1) and Hamilton (1).Based in our out-of-Parliament offices these roles are predominantly tasked with collecting signatures for a petition calling for a referendum on asset sales. Staff will be required to engage with the public to raise awareness of the petition and gather signatures at a variety of locations (train stations/main streets/sports events, etc.). Data entry duties will also be required.These roles require excellent interpersonal and organisational skills. Experience is desired in community engagement, cold-calling, direct customer relations, public campaigns and data entry.The positions will be predominately full-time (40hrs) fixed term contracts from April 30th -June 30th 2012, however part-time arrangements will also be considered. Flexibility of working hours is also desired (weekends/evenings).To apply please download and fill out the attached application form below and include with your cover letter and C.V. Please send applications to firstname.lastname@example.orgApplications close 12pm Friday 20 April 2012The Parliamentary Service appoints on merit and is committed to EEO and good employer principles. Applicants for this position should have NZ residency or a valid work permit.
These, as the advertisement states, are Parliamentary Service positions, which means that you and we are paying for them. That stinks.
But what is worse is that the Greens are using government money to oppose a policy which the current Government campaigned on, and intends to deliver on, having been given a mandate by those who bothered to vote on or before 27 November 2011. There's something fundamentally wrong with taxpayers having to pay for that; it's state funding of political parties by stealth.
Over at Kiwiblog DPF puts it equally plainly:
I have had it confirmed that the Greens are using taxpayer funds to hire staff to collect signatures for the asset sales petition, as speculated yesterday.This is effectively an abuse of what the CIR process is about. First of all the idea behind citizen’s initiated referenda are that it gives a chance for non MPs to petition Parliament and force a vote on an issue. It has never before been used by the losing parties in a general election to try and over-throw the results of an election, by holding a referendum on the policy which was at the centre of the election campaign. The history of CIR is that they have been on issues for which no party had explicitly campaigned at a previous election.So bad enough that Labour and the Greens are pushing a referendum on a policy that was debated for 11 months during the election campaign, but even worse that the Greens are using some of their $1.3m of taxpayer funding to purchase signatures for the petition. The same Greens who decry money in politics. CIR are meant to be about showing the level of community support for a vote on an issue. Using taxpayer funds to hire people to collect signatures will demonstrate little other than how much taxpayer money the Greens are prepared to spend on it.So much for being the party of grass-roots activism.At least it is a step up from the Labour MP who was paying an 11 year old girl $10 an hour to wave Labour Party placards during the election campaign.
This is an issue that should be referred to Parliamentary Services as a matter of urgency. If it is deemed to be an appropriate use of taxpayer funds, so be it. But as DPF notes, this is an attempt to re-litigate the 2011 election by way of a CIR.