Morgan says he will spend $5 million

Big spending campaigners didn’t have a good return on their investment last election, with Colin Craig’s Conservatives coming up a bit short of the threshold and Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party spending even more and having less success, in fact he dragged the Mana Party backwards and out of Parliament.

Gareth Morgan is suggesting even bigger numbers for his The Opportunities Party, but he has a big political hill top climb.

NZ Herald: Morgan prepares to spend $5m

Gareth Morgan expects to spend up to $5 million of his own fortune on his political party – saying he is “donkey deep now and has to keep going”.

“I have been surprised [at the cost]. The sad reality of politics is you have to have money to play. And I don’t like that,” Morgan told the Herald.

The media political machine hasn’t really warmed to Morgan so he will find it difficult to get the exposure he needs.

Morgan said a lack of money particularly excluded the young, many of whom can’t afford to take time off work to campaign, he said.

The deck is stacked against newcomers to politics. Incumbent parties and sitting MPs have effectively been campaigning for months already on full MP pay and using their free travel perks.

University of Otago Faculty of Law professor Andrew Geddis said New Zealand was “pretty much in the middle of the road” internationally in terms of controls on fundraising and spending, with no spending limits in Australia and the US.

Spending limits here cover advertising, but not other campaign expenses like opinion polling, travel and staff.

Incumbents exploit taxpayer funded polling, travel and to an extent staff.

Geddis said there wasn’t a strong link between spending money and winning in New Zealand, however there were high entry costs for new parties and low levels of state funding for parties (the Greens have called for an inquiry to investigate state-funding for parties).

“Voters know unless a party has a realistic chance of making the quite high 5 per cent threshold, a vote for them is wasted. It’s not just money that achieves success, it’s been seen as potentially successful.”

A lot of money seems to be essential, at least for the media to pay any attention to a new party or to different approaches to campaigning and to politics.

But it nowhere near guarantees success.

Any other party wanting to get anywhere near the ridiculously high MMP threshold (kept in place by incumbent parties to protect their positions and keep new parties out, another substantial advantage they give themselves) has a huge hill to climb.

TOP has the finance, but they don’t yet have any candidates that interest the media.

What Morgan needs to try and find is a party leader who is competent, ambitious and confident, but also is different or controversial enough to attract attention from the headline seeking media. He isn’t that person and knows it.

Otherwise the incumbent party advantages and the lack of media opportunities for new parties the political establishment is very difficult to upset. There’s some irony in the media reluctance to provide balance, because they could help a political revolution (or at least an interesting addition) happen.

Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup  also looks at TOP:  Is Gareth Morgan’s TOP really an anti-Establishment party of outsiders?


Leave a comment


  1. Sally

     /  16th June 2017

    Sean Plunket is on the payroll, announced it recently.
    Obviously pays better than a declining media training empire.

  2. Gezza

     /  16th June 2017

    “(the Greens have called for an inquiry to investigate state-funding for parties)”

    Not on my watch please. The incumbent parties seem to waste enough taxpayer dollars on enough pleasant activities already. If they aren’t smart, innovative, & good enough at attracting, managing, & wisely utilising financial & volunteer support to get themselves onto the public radar – how good could their members & candidates be at being part of a team managing a country?

    State funding would be too easily squandered, imo. And it’s our money they want to squander.

  3. Kitty Catkin

     /  16th June 2017

    Donkey deep is a revolting and crude expression. UGH !

  1. Morgan says he will spend $5 million – NZ Conservative Coalition

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