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Electoral Commission Appointments

Former Cabinet Minister David Caygill and Wellington-based company director and Deputy Chairman of the Medical Assurance Society John Isles have been appointed to the Electoral Commission, Associate Minister of Justice Hon Margaret Wilson announced today.

The men will have the job of allocating broadcasting time and money to political parties for this year’s General Election, she said. David Caygill will represent the Coalition Government in this process and John Isles the Opposition parties.

Margaret Wilson said the appointees have the appropriate background for their Commission roles.

“A lawyer by profession, David Caygill has experience as a senior Cabinet Minister and as a six-term Member of Parliament. He has also been a member of the Representation Commission since 1997. John Isles is a former Chairman of Radio New Zealand.”

Attached: additional information on Electoral Commission appointments

The Electoral Commission: Membership
Section 8(1) of the Electoral Act 1993 (the Act) provides that the membership of the Electoral Commission shall consist of:
- the Secretary for Justice (currently Ms Belinda Clark);
- the Chief Judge of the Maori Land Court (currently Justice Joe Williams;
- a Chief Executive appointed by the Governor- General (currently Dr Paul Harris);
- the President, who shall be a Judge, or a retired Judge, of the District Court or of the High Court or of the Court of Appeal (currently Justice Anthony Ellis).

Section 8(4) of the Act provides that, in exercising its jurisdiction under Part VI of the Broadcasting Act 1989, the Commission comprises, in addition to its permanent members:

Two persons (not being public servants directly connected with the administration of this Act or the Broadcasting Act 1989 or members of the House of Representatives), who shall be appointed by the Governor-General on the nomination of the House of Representatives, as members of the Electoral Commission, one of those members to represent the Government and one to represent Opposition parties.

The Commission’s responsibilities under part VI of the Broadcasting Act include the allocation of broadcasting time and money to eligible political parties.

Term of Appointment
Under section 10(1A) of the Act members appointed under section 8(4) are appointed for a specified term of not more than 12 months. The term starts on the date of appointment.

The Previous Incumbents
David Beatson (representing the Government) and Lloyd Brian Falck (Opposition parties). Their terms of appointment expired on 5 May 2000.

Members are required for regular monthly meetings which usually last for half-a-day and are held in Wellington. It is likely a two-day meeting will be called in June or July to hear parties’ submissions. Other meetings are held as and when required. The involvement of the additional members usually lasts until the Commission has completed a report on election broadcasting matters, about two to three months after election day.

Appointment process
The Act requires that one appointee is selected to represent the Government and one to represent the Opposition parties. Hon Margaret Wilson in her role as Associate Minister of Justice wrote to the leaders of all political parties in Parliament asking for a nomination. The Opposition parties were asked to liase with the leader of the National Party with a view to reaching consensus.

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