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“So long as they do not advocate for or against any party or candidate”

  • November 20th, 2007

Steven Price speaking for the Coalition for Open Government on RNZ this morning was saddening. An idealist a few years ago, a lawyer of perception, descending to justify corrupt law in debate with a non-lawyer on the grounds that it will not be enforced.

I hate seeing people lose their intellectual integrity. I dare think that one day he will feel ashamed of this episode.

In its early days I was a ‘Coalescer”. I wrote briefs of Bills for their newsletter. I think most I worked with were genuine idealists, not stooges for the totalitarians.

Today I heard Price minimising the freedom of speech limit in a law that will “permit legitimate lobby groups to carry  on” if they comply with “minimal” registration requirements (not mentioning the accounting, auditing, record keeping etc) so long as they “do not advocate for or against any politician or party”.

In other words you can have ‘free speech’ as long as we know where we can get you, and only so long as you do not let people know which politicians support or oppose your policy position.

What do the equivocaters think elections are about? We do not elect policies, we elect people – we get a chance to decide who wields the rule-making power. There is no free speech if it ends as soon as you talk about the people standing. As the media show by what they publish (trivial amounts that mean anything on policy) election speech on a policy or issue not relevant speech. It is only relevant when it is connected to the people, and the company they keep (political parties).

Price was justifying law that says your free speech ends the moment you start telling which of the politicians is a liar, or hostile, or a hypocrite, or a sincere champion, or straight talker. New Zealand is passing law to nobble lobby groups in their chief constitutional function – that is monitoring and reporting on the rulers, so that voters can can have more to vote on than politicians’ claims.

The law is designed to abolish the purpose of free speech while pretending that free speech remains. Why do we think elections are better than wise dictators? Precisely so that citizens, at all other times the outsiders to the process, can persuade and agitate each other to kick the incumbent bastards out.

I rue the time I spent helping give the COG credibility, when it was a coalition of people afraid of Muldoonism. I could see then how attractive it was to the nosy folk who try to exorcise their personal demons by making rules for others. But I did not forsee “Open Government” becoming an Orwellian joke.

It is now yet another front (like CORSO and myriad others) taken over by the types who can rationalise anything. They can not help themselves. By character they are drawn to support violent heros the Castros, the Pol Pots, the Sandinistas, the Ho Chi Minhs, the Mugabes,  all at some time or other the darlings of the NZ Labour Party’s current leading lights, simply because they were ‘anti-capitalist’.

Now of course H Clark has the Steven Prices of our little world salivating as she dog whistles them with terms like “hollow men” her updated code for ‘capitalist’.


  • Mike Mckee
  • November 20th, 2007
  • 10:09 am

with your permission I’m going to make a placard of this post to carry parliament all next year.

  • Daniel Kilpatrick
  • November 20th, 2007
  • 8:11 pm


Good to hear the history around these organisations and proponents.

Isn’t this EFB legislated McCarthyism ?(i.e the Registration = Blacklist). The best way to maintain an ongoing list of persons to avoid employing…With fingers burnt on Ms Setchell etc., this seems a rational response to stitch a ‘net’ and see who it catches..(Too easy to take it further if they wanted to as well.)

  • Stephen LINDSAY
  • November 20th, 2007
  • 8:55 pm

The common voter has limited reading and comprehension skills. The Clark regime are the only ones to recognise this and they will probably get their way.
Somehow erudite people like yourself need to encapsulate the evil of this Bill in a few words.
I wish I could.


Hi Stephen,

Would you interpret using the current version of the EFB that a placard carried in a protest march is an advertisement as represented by DPF in this post:

  • Chris Diack
  • November 21st, 2007
  • 8:07 pm

The original Coalition for Open Government supported increasing the power of the individual vis-à-vis the State regarding access to official information.

This incarnation of the Coalition for Open Government supports increasing the power of the State vis-à-vis the individual regarding the use of that information in a political context.

Thus I can apply under the Official Information Act for and get released embarrassing information about a politician, but I cannot (as a non candidate) put that in a pamphlet bagging that same politician and their party without running the maze of the Electoral Finance Bill.

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