22 Oct 2008

Labour accused of trampling on spirit of law

6:35 pm on 22 October 2008

The National Party has accused Labour of manipulating its own election spending laws with brochures it says are blatant electioneering.

A 50-page pamphlet has been distributed to older voters around New Zealand, containing a photo of the local Labour electorate MP on the front.

The Chief Electoral Officer has said the booklet does not contravene electoral spending laws.

However National has accused Labour of accusing public money on what amounts to campaign material.

National's Gerry Brownlee told Morning Report the spirit of the law was being trampled over, and it was clearly a chance to get Labour candidates names and photos before voters in a period very near the election.

He said it is the kind of behaviour that the Labour Party said they wanted to put a stop to.

However, Labour MP Darren Hughes told the programme the Labour Party logo is not on the document and there is no mention of Labour in the brochures at all.

He said staff at Parliamentary Services co-ordinated the publication.

Electoral office advertisement

Meanwhile, Mr Brownlee has confirmed that he has published recent advertisements in newspapers featuring his new electoral office address, a photo of himself, and the National Party banner and website address.

He said the advertisements were paid for by Parliamentary Services, but cannot say how many have run or how much they have cost the taxpayer.

Mr Brownlee said he had been at his new office since 1 June, but that the signage went up six weeks ago.

He said the advertisements were perfectly reasonable, and it is not unusual for MPs to advertise where they can be contacted, as they provide a direct service to the taxpayer and should not be anonymous.

Mr Brownlee says that is different to using taxpayer-funded material to try to push out a political point during an election campaign.