Civilian's gain major parties' loss

Ben Uffindell
Ben Uffindell
It is the major political parties who lose the tens of thousands of dollars allocated to satirical outfit the Civilian Party for election advertising rather than the taxpayer, says the party's founder, Ben Uffindell.

Mr Uffindell, the writer behind satirical website The Civilian, has been targeted by lobby group the Taxpayers Union and Prime Minister John Key for wasting taxpayer funding after last week being allocated $33,635 in taxpayer funds for broadcast election advertising for the coming campaign.

"In reality, the Civilian Party will be thinking the biggest joke's on us, the taxpayer," Mr Key said.

Taxpayers Union spokesman Jordan Williams said for the party to accept the money to promote its policies of free ice cream and a llama for each child in poverty was "outrageous".

"This is an affront to very important issues like health and education. It is absurd that while people wait for surgery, the Civilian Party receives $33,000 of taxpayer money for what is essentially a hobby horse."

But Mr Uffindell told the Herald the money was coming from a $3.28 million pool which would be fully allocated - mostly to National and Labour - anyway.

"If we didn't accept the money it doesn't go back to the taxpayer, it goes to National, Labour, the Greens and Mana and they already have a lot of money - more than me - and they don't need another $10,000 each," he said.

"The taxpayer is short $3.2 million no matter what happens."

If it went to the major parties the money would be spent on "propaganda that's meant to brainwash people into believing them over the other guy".

"Our insincere purpose actually brings a different perspective ... which I think is a lot more valuable because it adds something to our political discourse that we didn't have already."

That different perspective was humour.

A spokeswoman for the Electoral Commission said it would not comment on its preliminary funding decision. The funding was contingent on parties allocated money being registered with it when the House rose for the election on August 14.

Mr Uffindell was confident his party would be registered by then.

National Party pollster, blogger and Taxpayers Union co-founder David Farrar said Mr Key should welcome the funding from a Machiavellian point of view.

"One could say the sort of people the Civilian Party might appeal to ... are unlikely to be National Party voters. They're more likely to be ... the ones Mana the Internet and Green party are probably going after."

- By Adam Bennett of the NZ Herald

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