INDEPENDENT NEWS

'Scandal' descends on upton-on-line

Published: Wed 13 Oct 1999 09:36 AM
Readers will be alarmed to discover that upton-on-line has attracted a whiff of scandal. Investigative journalist David McLoughlin has asked if we are not guilty of "treating" under the Electoral Act, 1993 by offering a "slap-up morning tea for one at Parsons to the value of $5" to the winner of one past and one on-going competition.
This, if indeed it were intended seriously, would be a damaging charge, as to commit the offence of treating is to be guilty of "a corrupt practice".
While the profile of upton-on-line would possibly benefit from such a scandal, we are obliged to disabuse readers of this notion.
The competition, together with its token prize, is a send-up designed to breathe life into the discussion of turgid but important issues. We remain attached to the (admittedly quaint) idea that there are still people interested in politics whose senses of humour have survived the ravages of the first MMP session.
But, for the record, it doesn't come within a country mile of section 217 of the Electoral Act.
We are, nevertheless, indebted to Mr McLoughlin for providing an idea for today's column.
We should also note that upton-on-line was widely mocked by members of NZPA's press gallery staff for offering such a modest prize. "Cheapskate" was the word that was used.
There have, however, been some notable cases of alleged "treating" in the past. C J Parr, the member for Eden, was accused of treating, a corrupt practice, during the campaign of 1922. He had allegedly lured a number of women to a "strawberry and cream" party at Glen Eden, and did the same in Avondale five days later. There was a court case, but James Parr was found not guilty, and was subsequently knighted.
The competition continues in all its notoriety.
And another thing Green Party MP Rod Donald wrote today in the Evening Post that "in 1993 New Zealand voters resolved overwhelmingly 54 percent to replace first past the post with MMP". Since when, we simply ask, has 54% been "overwhelming"?
ends

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