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Electoral finance changes announced

Hon Mark Burton
Minister of Justice

23 July 2007 Media Statement

Electoral finance changes announced

The Government has today introduced a Bill that will restore confidence in a fair and transparent electoral process in time for the next election, Justice Minister Mark Burton announced.

"These reforms help bring New Zealand into line with other democracies, as a place where every voter can have their voice heard fairly, regardless of their personal circumstances, and where every person can hear everyone else's voice clearly and transparently, " said Mark Burton

"The package of reforms introduced to Parliament will help promote participation in parliamentary democracy, and aims to clean up New Zealand's electoral system and protect it from abuse.

"The public should have the highest confidence that the electoral system is transparent, fair and not open to the undue influence of wealthy interest groups.

The Electoral Finance Bill amends the electoral finance regime in the following areas:

- Third party activities;

- Political donations;

- Election expenses;

- Compliance and enforcement; and,

- Broadcasting of election programmes

"All New Zealanders must be able to have a fair opportunity to participate in our democracy and be able to see who is involved in our political processes." Mark Burton said

A key area for reform will be election expenses. There will also be much stricter rules on the involvement of third parties in election campaigns.

The Bill also introduces more stringent rules for candidate and party expenditure during the lead up to an election, along with a stricter compliance and enforcement regime. In addition, the Bill will remove the requirement for political appointees from the functions relating to Parliamentary election programmes under Part 6 of the Broadcasting Act 1989, only independent officials will decide how rules are set and how funding is allocated.

"The 2005 General Election brought into sharp focus concerns about third party campaigning, donations and election expenditure. We saw the most blatant example of third party campaigns and their potential to undermine the fairness objectives that have stood behind the expenditure limits for parties and candidates since the original limits were first put in place in 1895. In the Government’s view, this is unacceptable, and should be addressed in legislation before the next election." Mark Burton said

"The Government has consulted with a number of parties to develop a package that deals with the most pressing reforms, for the Parliament and the wider public to debate.

The Government has also proposed an independent review of a number of aspects of electoral reform that warrant further consideration. This will include the structure and organisation of the electoral agencies, and the broader question of how political parties are funded, including donations and the associated issue of state funding.
"Broader issues relating to the structure of the electoral system and the nature of how parties are funded require further consideration, and the government believes an independent review is the best approach for looking at these areas. Mr Burton said

ENDS

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