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Wednesday, 3 December 2008

The Jacket's a Breach, the Swimsuit Might be, but what about the T-Shirt?

Every lefty who said that the right were over-reacting and being hysterical about the potential reach of the controversial Electoral Finance Act are today eating their words.

The Electoral Commission have decided that there were 4 instances of illegal campaigning under the Act in the recent election; 3 of which are worthy of police investigation. Most noteworthy, was ACT's Rodney Hide's yellow jacket which was deemed an election advertisement meaning it had to have an appropriate authorisation statement and written authorisation from the Party Financial Agent had to be obtained.

Now, apparently Rodney did have an authorisation statement inside the jacket that was available to view on request but this was not deemed sufficient.

This is an absolutely ridiculous law. Rodney could be fined $10,000 and the Party Financial Agent $40,000. Makes one ashamed to be a New Zealander; I can only imagine what our overseas visitors are making of this.

Redbaiter sums up the appropriate response nicely, if a little crassly, on Kiwiblog:

What a f****n basket case country. What a justice system. [Helen C]lark and Winston [Peters] roam free after all of their corruption and cronyism, and Rod Hide is before the Police and the Courts for wearing a yellow jacket. ..and people have the nerve to chastise me for saying this country is an inwardly collapsing socialist hole.
Homepaddock makes the interesting point that Green MP Metiria Turei wore a swimsuit with the Green Party logo on it during a triathlon.
No Minister's Fairfacts Media comments further:
What is the difference between a swimsuit and a yellow jacket?About the same as a Green Party fence sign and a National Party powerpoint presentation, the former which was judged by the commission to be of no consequence, the latter to be judged actionable!
Homepaddock's Ele wrote to the Electoral Commission about Turei's swimsuit and was told:

A party advertisement under the EFA is:

‘any form of words or graphics or both that can reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to do either or both of the following:

(a) to vote for the party (whether or not the name of the party is stated):
(b) not to vote for another party (whether or not the name of the party is stated)’

It is not clear to me that a party logo, by itself, meets this definition.

UPDATE: On further correspondance, Ele reports the Electoral Commission clarified further:
The decision related to the election slogan on the jacket – not the logo.
Well, biting my tongue at the Electoral Commission's view on the use of political party logos and their role in election advertising, I wonder, then what the Electoral Commission would make of Rodney Hide's Epsom opponent's T-Shirt? No logo but a slogan.

As I write this post, Epsom Labour Party candidate Kate Sutton is still offering her "Kate 08" election T-Shirts for sale on her official Labour candidate site:

It seems to me that these T-Shirts were designed to encourage people to vote for Kate in 2008, unless I am missing something? Whether there is an authorisation on these T-Shirts or not, I am not sure as zooming in I can see small words but I cannot see what they say - certainly there is no mention on the site or orde form - and so I think it might pay to have the Electoral Commission pass their eye over the T-Shirt themselves. I have just now dropped them a line.
Here is the link where you can order the T-Shirts and see Kate and friends modelling them. The order form is also reproduced below and helpfully states that one can order the T-Shirts by emailing and finishes with the statement "Kate Sutton and Epsom Labour say thanks for your support."
UPDATE: The Electoral Commission has referred my query to the Chief Electoral Office.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I'm sure it will be inconsequential. After all it is the first time Kate has done anything like this. Yes, let her off with a stern faced warning. It's clear to all that she is a woman and just exercising her womanly enthusiasm. Is that a crime? Rodney is a man, and a smart one, and should have been more logical. It wouldn't be fair otherwise.

    Other such technical considerations going through the EC's collective minds will be the weight of the T-shirt, its apparent colour at 30 paces, dryclean or hand wash and country of manufacture. If the T-shirts were made in China, the bulk of the advertisement was made outside of the EC's jurisdiction.

    Oh yes, there are many considerations.

  3. Actually the jacket on its own wasn't a breach, nor was the ACT logo - it was the slogan that was the problem. That is because the EC determines advertisements, not what these electoral advertisements are on. But why the EC made a determination on Rodney's authorising statement is beyond me - the Commission hadnt even seen the statement.
    Wait for the balloon and t shirt decisions out shortly.

  4. I want to know whether the EC called for the coat.

    Did Rodney visit them in their lair and sweep imperiously down the cat walk, giving them a momentary flash of his 'authorization'?

  5. Don't! You are making me picture it LOL!

    I so hope Rodney stops wearing that thing though. The first time I saw him in it on a news bulletin I thought, 'gosh, that rental car serviceman looks a lot like Rodney Hide.'

  6. Madeleine: thanks for the info, I've linked to your post.

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