Did David Farrar sabotage the asset petition?

Russel Norman’s last tweet yesterday:

So if the National Party activist David Farrar signed the asset sale petition 13 times, did Nats organise this nationally?

Funny to see Norman referring to Farrar as a “National Party activist”.

Farrar has responded on Facebook:

Seeing the response to today’s joke tweet, I am thinking of becoming a professional troll. The waves of outrage are quite addictive!

Farra’s “joke tweet” was amongst an exchange on the number of disallowed signatures on the asset sale petition. On a Kiwiblog post Massive fail for Labour and Greens Farrar claims:

This is incredible. They spent around $400,000 gathering signatures for their asset sales petition, and they failed to get enough valid signatures.

They needed 308,753 valid signatures but fell short by 16,500.

That is a massive fail and gross political incompetence. They didn’t have to submit the petition when they did. They could have carried on getting more signatures to make sure.

I’m still staggered for now that despite spending $400,000 and having the entire memberships of the Labour and Green parties, and most unions, they proved unable to get enough valid signatures.  You could understand it if they were close to the deadline to submit – but they were not. They made a tactical decision to submit early for political posturing, and have ended up with egg on their face.

UPDATE: They claimed to have 400,000 signatures but got 292,250 valid ones. That means 107,750 were invalid which is a massive 26.9%. Maybe they should have put their paid petition gatherers on performance pay!

Here’s the offending tweet:

So was it wrong of me to sign the #assetsales petition 13 times? I used a different name each time, so figured that was fine 🙂

I saw that tweet at the time, 8.37 pm last night. I can only see minor response to that tweet, Farrar then went out fot the evening (according to another tweet) and Norman was not very active, a few tweets defending the petition and then the one accusing Farrar.

Farrar was obviously joking. Norman must know this but is trying to score some political mileage by trying to portray it as an organised National sabotage of the petition.

Over the last year when the petition was gathering signatures I saw many quips and claims in social media that people had signed the petition using fake names – eg Mickey Mouse. It’s impossible to know if these commenters were saying what they had actually done or were trying to encourage others to do it.

I don’t agree with deliberately spoiling a petition but I’m not surprised, the Greens used what is supposed to be a Citizen Initiated Referendum into a party campaign tool, using it to promote themselves and to harvest contact email addresses, phone numbers and postal addresses (as did Labour).

So it shouldn’t be surprising that political game playing may have occurred with the petition. Norman played down a country wide 2011 campaign stunt by Green activists defacing National election hoardings.

Defacing petition forms is probably a degree worse but as a Citizen’s referendum it was farcical and futile, so making it more farcical doesn’t seem to be a big deal.

Not that I think Farrar signed 13 times, I highly doubt that he did, he was joking on Twitter. Some will have deliberately the spoiled petition, but there will be many reasons for invalid signatures.

Someone I know told me that a signature gatherer was so pushy they found it easier to just sign (again) than say no.

And a couple of examples from a petition supporting blog, The Standard, in Asset sales petition has more work to do.

tamati 9

I remember seeing a petition at an op shop on Dominion road. Was just sitting on the counter, with nobody actually supervising. Saw a bunch of girls in school uniform sign up, and nobody seemed to know this was wrong!

shorts 13

I wonder how many are disallowed due to them not being on the electoral role – given over a million eligible voters didn’t vote last election, one could surmise there’s a lot of young people whom may have signed simply not on the roll?

Yep as someone who spent a lot of time collecting signatures the number of people who had changed addresses were significant. And without a date of birth date the chances of identifying them on the roll would have been very poor.

I am actually not surprised at this problem. It is just what happens when you have volunteers talking to ordinary people and collecting signatures without the benefit of electoral rolls being on hand.

The Al1en 16

I signed the petition in the Labour party Hamilton office in Te Rapa.
I was told to only sign my name and date of birth.
And they want to run the country when they can’t even get a form filled out properly.
Good work, front desk nobody.

With consideration, I remember I queried it at the time and did put my name down, but I do recall seeing a lot of just names and birth dates. Hope that page wan’t pulled out for a scan by the clerk.

karol 23.3

I’m still concerned about the fact that I moved since I signed the petition – wonder if that makes my signature invalid.

So obviously it’s very difficult ensuring that only valid signatures are collected, and a high failure rate isn’t surprising.

Greens and Labour will have known there was a high error rate, as they were harvesting data off the petition forms, Duplicates and obvious bogus names would have been known about.

They delayed presentation of the petition. This was probably due to known error rates. But they miscalculated – and were under pressure to present the petition before Mighty River Power shares were floated.

Russel Norman could look at any number of reasons why the operation failed to make the required threshold.

Blaming David Farrar and a National spoiling campaign looks a bit desperate.

But I guess a highly party politicised “citizen’s” petition/referendum campaign is going to remain highly politicised.

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1 Comment

  1. Darryl

     /  8th May 2013

    This reflects just how the country would be run, if the Labour-Greens got into Government.
    Why don’t Norman and Shearer own up to the fact, there so called referendum is a complete joke. Blaming David Farrar, for there failure is just ridiculous, but very typical. Norman and Shearer are a great example of what not to be as a Leader. I know of a number of folk that were ambushed a number of times with there crazy petition, but never signed it.


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