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Government Demonstrates Cynicism On Party Funding

The select committee report just released on the Local Electoral Bill shows a Government cynically presenting itself as tough on political campaign finance – when it is just window dressing to leave its own rorts in place, ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said.

“This bill will extend to local authorities the campaign funding and spending restrictions from the law governing national elections – even though the Government knows that this existing law doesn’t do what it says.

“It just promotes concern about integrity when the party which controls the votes on these matters conspires with its smaller allies to put in window-dressing law with gaping loop holes that suit them.

“Our minority report on this bill does not convey the full flavour of the cynicism displayed in the committee.

“In this case, National as a major party, also able to use loopholes, should get credit for coming out against simply reproducing fraudulent law. Both opposition parties objected to imposing it on local authorities, even though they know their position will be misrepresented by Labour as support for unequal funding.

“There is huge debate going in Europe and the United States over the free speech implications of campaign finance restrictions and prohibitions on advertising. We need to wake up to this issue in New Zealand.

“ACT and National both vigorously opposed the sinister provisions that permit only “authorised” political advocacy during elections. Unfortunately ACT succeeded only in getting the internet excluded. The majority eventually conceded that the ban would be intolerable even though without it the other restrictions are unfair on conventional media. It was patently unenforceable and would have purported to jam up chat room comments about political candidates,” Stephen Franks said.


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