On The Nation this weekend, ex-pat Owen G. Glenn magnanimously offered to pour over $100 million into youth initiatives after the election. Here are a couple of extracts from the interview:
Q: Are you giving any money this election to any political party, or just advice?
A: Well, I’m giving everybody advice, aren’t I? I’m coming back in October and I’m going to hold a press conference. And I’m going to announce some pretty major initiatives.
Q: Is that money going to be spent here?
A: In New Zealand.
A: Mainly for New Zealand youth. I’m going to put my money where my mouth is. Then I’ll be happy to answer any questions you want to ask me. [laughs]
Q: Well, let’s explore it. And I’m not going to ask you to shoot your bolt right here and now…
A: It’s not ready…
Q: So we’re talking about hundreds of millions invested in New Zealand youth?
A: Let’s say at least a hundred. …..
Q: Does it matter who wins the election as to whether or not you proceed with the plan?
A: I think very much so.
Q: So you would think about not doing this initiative…
A: Well look, let’s put it in perspective. I think National has a better shot at it, particularly if ACT is part of it. Because, if I say ACT goes a little bit hard on the Right, if there is temper [?] there, they’re not bad people, actually very good people.
Q: OK. Can I ask you then: you’re prepared to invest hundreds of millions in New Zealand education, for young people…
A: I said at least a hundred million…
Q: … if National and ACT win the next election?
A: That’s correct.
When we’re strapped for cash, performing dentistry on a gift horse could be regarded as bad form. Never mind that $100 million is a drop in the bucket compared with Government’s spending – it’s a very large drop in a very small bucket. The problem is that the generous Mr Glenn has probably committed an offence under the Electoral Act 1993 by tagging on the proviso that he will give the money only if National/ACT win the election in November:
Part 7 – Corrupt and illegal practices – 216 Bribery
(1) Every person is guilty of a corrupt practice who commits the offence of bribery.
(2) Every person commits the offence of bribery who, directly or indirectly, by himself or herself or by any other person on his or her behalf—
(a) gives any money or procures any office to or for any voter, or to or for any other person on behalf of any voter, or to or for any other person, in order to induce any voter to vote or refrain from voting; or
(b) corruptly does any such act as aforesaid on account of any voter having voted or refrained from voting; or
(c) makes any such gift or procurement as aforesaid to or for any person in order to induce that person to procure, or endeavour to procure, the return of any person or candidates at an election or the vote of any voter, or who, upon or in consequence of any such gift or procurement as aforesaid, procures, or engages, promises, or endeavours to procure, the return of any person or candidates at any election or the vote of any voter.
(3) For the purposes of this section,—
(a) references to giving money shall include references to giving, lending, agreeing to give or lend, offering, promising, or promising to procure or endeavour to procure, any money or valuable consideration:
What’s more, I would submit that every New Zealander who is aware of Mr Glenn’s promise, applauds an investment in our kids and grandkids and subsequently votes for National or ACT, could also be guilty under the same section of the Act: (6) A voter commits the offence of bribery if before or during an election he or she directly or indirectly, by himself or herself or by any other person on his or her behalf, receives, or agrees or contracts for, any money, gift, loan, or valuable consideration, office, place, or employment for himself or herself or for any other person for voting or agreeing to vote or for refraining or agreeing to refrain from voting. So even if Mr Glenn hastily returns home to Monaco on his super yacht before the Chief Electoral Officer calls in the constabulary, there will be chaos in our courts if he ever makes good on his promise. At the end of August there were 2,969,274 people registered to vote in the coming election. Ipredict currently has National taking 61 seats and ACT taking five. That would mean up to 1.5 million people committing an offence that carries a penalty of between $40,000 and two years in jail. Come to think of it, the fines alone would solve the country’s financial problems in one fell swoop! Or alternatively, right-wing voters might vote Labour to save themselves from incarceration or financial ruin.