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Deadline set by officials on election law lapses

Bill English MP
National Party Deputy Leader

7 December 2007

Deadline set by officials on election law lapses

National Party Deputy Leader Bill English says officials set a deadline of November 31 to pass the Electoral Reform Bill, yet Labour is planning to pass it only a week before Christmas.

“Officials don’t have time to understand what the bill means before it becomes law. Agencies like the Electoral Commission will virtually be flying blind, as they struggle to understand the implications of a regime that starts on 1 January.

“This explains Labour’s blunt rejection of the Human Rights Commission request for the public to have another say on this anti-democratic legislation. It will also be why Michael Cullen is so desperate to barge it through Parliament before Christmas.”

National has proposed an amendment to commence the bill on 1 April 2008, to allow the electoral agencies, political parties and other interest groups to come to grips with this opaque and complicated bill.

“Labour’s had two years to put together a bill which everyone understands, properly consult other parties, and establish a regime which more than a slim majority of Parliament supports.

“Instead, at the eleventh hour, Minister Annette King has had to embarrassingly admit that even she doesn’t understand the bill. What chance do the public have? What chance do officials have?”

Mr English says that under the Official Information Act, National has also requested all the Justice Ministry’s papers relating to the Electoral Finance Bill.

“The issue’s been taken to the Ombudsman because those papers – which the public are entitled to see – have been withheld.

“Those documents will shed more light on what officials think of this deeply flawed bill.”

ENDS

Extract from Pg 14 of briefing to incoming Minister of Justice – Electoral finance review
“The Bill must be passed by 31 November 2007, to enable the electoral agencies to prepare for the 2008 general election.”

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