Civilian Party 'a joke on taxpayers'

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 08:49 09/06/2014
Ben Uffindell
CIVILIAN LEADER: Satirical writer Ben Uffindell founded and leads the Civilian Party, which is campaigning with promises of free ice cream for all and llamas for poor children.

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Prime Minister John Key says the joke is on the New Zealand public after the Electoral Commission gave the satirical Civilian Party $33,000 to contest this year's election.

Key has heaped scorn on the party, run by satirical writer Ben Uffindell, which is campaigning on free ice cream for all and a llama for each child living in poverty.

"In reality, most people are going to sit there and think 'what a joke', they are literally a joke - just like [the] Bill and Ben [Party] was," Key said this morning on Breakfast.

That the party had been given tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money was "unbelievable".

Key said it was an expensive joke, "but in the end, I guess it's the Electoral Commission that decides the broadcasting divvying up of the money, and they've gone from 11 parties to fund, to 17.

"They've probably got prescribed rules and there's not much they can do about it," he said.

"But in reality, the Civilian Party will be thinking the biggest joke's on us, the taxpayer."

Lobby group the Taxpayers Union has also slammed the funding.

Executive director Jordan Williams said if the Civilian Party was serious about remaining funny, it should not take the money.

"It's bad enough that taxpayers have to fork out for political party propaganda, but for tax dollars to be given to a satirical party is outrageous," he said.

"While the Civilian Party is a fun project of Mr Uffindell, we are stunned that it would apply for taxpayer funding to prop up his hobby. The 'party' should not accept the money."

But according to electoral rules, the Civilian Party has to notify the commission that it considers itself to be qualified for an allocation in taxpayer funding.

CIVILIAN PARTY 'GOT SHORT-CHANGED'

Uffindell said last week that taxpayers had actually come out of the situation quite well.

"The commission actually short-changed us really," Uffindell said.

"We asked for $1 million and only got $33,000, so we got a bad deal really."

Uffindell said the Civilian Party was "not a joke" and had every right to the funding as it met all the legal criteria for a legitimate political party.

"We would not be allowed to accept the money if our party weren't real," he said.

"There are other joke parties getting funding, like the Conservatives and ACT."

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