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National, Labour score bonus taxpayer funding after minor parties fail to register

$261,310 reallocated.

Fri, 25 Aug 2017

UPDATE / Aug 25: Seven minor parties who failed to register in time have been stripped of their broadcasting fund allocation of $37,330 each, or a total $261,310.

The time-wasters are 1Law4All, Alliance Party, Universal Party, GOdsownNZ, NZ Independent Parliament, Coalition for Common Good and the Perth, Australia based Expatriate Party of New Zealand.

The remaining funds have been reallocated proportionately among the remaining parties, with the major beneficiaries of additional being:

  • National: $85,000
  • Labour: $68,000
  • Greens: $32,000
  • NZ First: $26,000

The two major parties were already over the million dollar mark in taxpayer funding (scroll to table end-of-article)

The public funding is on top of whatever parties raise themselves. Read NBR's latest tally on that front here.

EARLIER/ May 25: How much taxpayers are giving to parties for political ads
The Electoral Commission has released details of taxpayer funding for political party advertising before September's election (see table below).

This year it matters more than ever, as a recent law change means TVNZ and RNZ are no longer required to provide free air time for party political broadcasts.

At the top of the pile, it's all reasonably straightforward, with the major parties being allocated the most money for advertising.

But further down, things get a little more curious.

The Perth-based Expatriate Party, for example, gets $37,330, despite not registering in any poll and a website that's offline.

That's only slightly behind Gareth Morgan's The Opportunities Party, which was allocated $41,478. Having finished third in the Mt Albert byelection and developed a national profile, the party could argue it should be a category above the Expatriates. 

The Electoral Commission explains its funding decisions here – or at least its broad criteria. An explanatory document says, "The allocation of money involves a difficult balancing exercise, requiring the commission to take into account each and all of the criteria ranging from criteria for which there is quantifiable evidence, for example numbers of MPs, polling, and byelection/general election results, alongside the wider discretion to consider 'fairness'." 

Most of the maverick parties aren't even registered. The main criterion for registration is 500 paying members.

Political parties can also raise their own funds, though they're required to stick within spending limits.

Electoral Commission figures just released for the May quarter show Gareth Morgan was easily the largest political donor, giving $400,000 to his own party. However, in recent New Zealand political history, there has been little correlation between funds raised and political success.

National the odd one out
Pollster and political commentator David Farrar notes most parties (beyond the minnows) get roughly the same funding as their poll rating this time around.

The exception is National, which is polling around 43% but gets 31% of the ad money.

  • National 31.0% down from 32.4% last time;
  • Labour 25.0% down from 28.0%;
  • Greens 12.0% down from 12.2%;
  • NZ First 9.5%, up from 6.1%;
  • Maori Party 3.0%, down from 3.1%;
  • ACT 2.3% (no change);
  • United Future 2.3% (no change); and
  • Conservatives 1.3%, down from 1.8%.

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National, Labour score bonus taxpayer funding after minor parties fail to register