Should the state fund political parties?

As a result of the debacle surrounding NZ First’s dodgy donations, former prime minister Jim Bolger has called for the state funding of political parties.

The basic idea is that if political parties are paid for by the state, then the influence of big corporations and their donations will become obsolete, removing corruption.

I have to say, I really don’t know how to feel about this. On one hand, I do like the idea of political parties not needing to sell out to corporations. On the other, going full hyperbole here, if a nazi party started up in New Zealand, I wouldn’t want my tax dollars going towards that.

Getting rid of donations would remove the possibility of something like what is happening at NZ First at the moment from ever occurring.

On the other hand, removing the need for parties to get donations will further remove parties from the general populace. After all, if you are going to get money regardless, the incentive to focus on the needs of the supporters dissipates.

Not 100% sure of my beliefs in this area. From what I can tell, a mixed model would work best, and the good news is that Green MP Golriz Ghahraman has a members bill in the ballot that takes a step in the right direction.

Ghahraman’s bill would ban foreign donations, as well as forcing all donations above $1000 to be disclosed (as opposed to the current limit of $15000). Her bill would also put a limit of $35000 for donations to a party or candidate per year.

As long as that also extends to organizations, I’m down for this bill. Add a level of state funding for political parties and I think the system would be better.

That said, I’m still not 100% sure of my views on this topic, and I am open to being convinced otherwise. Drop your views in the comments.

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