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NZ to get two standards of free speech

Bill English MP
National Party Deputy Leader

8 November 2007

NZ to get two standards of free speech

"Labour has given itself and the other political parties a super-sized megaphone to bludgeon the public of New Zealand with in election year," says National Party Deputy Leader Bill English.

"Meanwhile, the public and the organisations which represent them will be told to shut up when the Electoral Finance Bill passes.

"This is a case of one law for the politicians, and one law for everyone else."

Mr English is commenting on the Appropriation (Continuation of Interim Meaning of Funding for Parliamentary Purposes) Bill which has been debated in Parliament today.

"This bill is state funding for political advertising by stealth. It is the second leg of the anti-democratic double, when coupled with the draconian Electoral Finance Bill, and gives incumbent politicians an unfair advantage over those who are only candidates."

Mr English says the definition of electioneering in the Appropriation Bill is much wider than it has been in previous elections, and will allow MPs to spend taxpayer money on 'information' while unelected challengers will have no such opportunity.

"Labour prefers this loose definition of electioneering, because it allows them to spend their parliamentary budget on campaigns like that of the pledge card. Even members of the Labour Party admitted this was electioneering - yet this bill makes the pledge card legal."

Mr English says taxpayer-funded 'information' campaigns by MPs and political parties take on a whole new dimension in the lead-up to an election.


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