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UnitedFuture will support revised EFB

UnitedFuture will support revised Electoral Finance Bill

UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne says his party will support the Electoral Finance Bill now that it has been substantially rewritten by the justice and electoral select committee.

“From the time of the Bill’s introduction we have argued that the original Bill’s provisions regarding third party participation in election campaigns were obnoxious and needed to be rewritten to ensure that the registration process applies only to those third parties who genuinely seek to mount campaigns around the election.

“We also argued that the definition of election advertising needed reworking to make it clear that it relates only to activities that third parties undertake that could be seen as seeking to influence voters to vote for a specific party or group of parties; and, that $60,000 cap needs to be substantially lifted to enable their campaigns to be somewhat more than token.

“UnitedFuture also wanted tighter and more transparent disclosure requirements for individual and corporate donations to political parties, and we called for specific provisions regarding official government advertising during election campaigns to make sure this is not covert election advertising.

“In the event, all these concerns have been addressed by the select committee, and we are therefore prepared to support the Bill, without further amendment, through its remaining stages in Parliament, although we will not support any moves to progress it under Urgency,” Mr Dunne says.

Mr Dunne says a fair and workable electoral financing regime is an important element of a functioning democracy and, “as the excesses of the last election showed, we do not have that at present, hence the need for change.”

“UnitedFuture is, however, still critical of the process followed by the government in progressing this legislation.

“It has been our belief all the way through that electoral law of this type should be made on the basis of the widest political support possible, which is why we successfully promoted the inclusion of all parties on the select committee looking at the Bill.

“However, while we have been satisfied at the degree of involvement we have been able to have in securing the changes we were seeking, we remain disappointed that neither Labour nor National were prepared to lay politics aside and work together on this issue.

“I had meetings with both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to urge them to engage in all-party discussions regarding the shape and content of the Electoral Finance Bill, but both have declined to do so, which indicates to me that both are as guilty as each other of playing politics on the issue, and seeking to preserve their respective positions of advantage.

“Looking to the future, UnitedFuture believes there should be an independent inquiry into all aspects of election financing, including the vexed question of state funding of political parties, in time for major change to be implemented for the 2011 election and beyond,” Mr Dunne says.

ENDS

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