Civilian Party v John Key & the Taxpayers’ Union

The Electoral Commission has allocated its broadcasting funding, and the Civilian Party will receive $33,365 – money that can only be used for broadcast advertising. The Taxpayers’ Union was unimpressed, with Jordan Williams describing the situation as “outrageous” – a somewhat predictable response, as Mr Williams seems to exist in a perpetual state of moral and fiscal outrage.

Now the Prime Minister, John Key, is weighing in, telling TV1’s Breakfast show “the biggest joke’s on us, the taxpayer”.

Here’s the thing though – no money is being spent that would not have otherwise been spent on broadcasting. The Electoral Commission has a total pot of $3,283,250, which it divides up amongst all eligible parties who apply for a share. That’s the same amount as was allocated in 2011, and prior to that, in 2008 and 2005. The full $3,283,250 will be divvied up, whether the Civilian Party gets its share or not. Presumably, if just National and Labour applied, they’d split the whole pot between them.

Let’s be clear – if the Civilian Party were to renounce its claim to its allocation of $33,365, the taxpayer would not save a dime. That money would simply be allocated to the other political parties who have their hands out.

Really, when it comes down to it, John Key’s issue is that the more funds other parties receive from the total pot, the less National gets. Where Jordan Williams’ objection comes from is less clear, although the options appear to be a) ignorance of the broadcasting allocation rules, and/or b) an under-developed sense of humour.

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