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Smaller parties should vote to delay election law

Bill English MP
National Party Deputy Leader

9 December 2007

Smaller parties should vote to delay election law

National Party Deputy Leader Bill English says the smaller parties have an opportunity to delay the implementation of Labour’s fatally flawed Electoral Finance Bill this week.

“National has an amendment that would delay the start date for this law until April 1. The smaller parties can vote to give the public, officials and political parties the chance to examine and digest what the raft of changes will mean.”

Mr English says briefing papers released on Friday show Justice Ministry officials advised Annette King that the bill had to be passed by the end of last month if they were to be ready in time for its implementation.

“Labour has wrestled with this law in a highly partisan way for two years. Even now, asked to explain it in Parliament, Annette King still gets it wrong. This is no basis for enduring, enforceable law.”

Mr English says the issue about what an MP can legally do with their taxpayer entitlements is critical to the discussion.

“The Electoral Commission only reserved its judgment on that clause because Annette King offered an interpretation. The Minister has since confirmed her interpretation was wrong.

“This is a critical component of the law, because it’s the clause that would exempt a pledge-card type activity in the last few days before an election.”

Mr English says Labour’s advice that anyone who wants to express an opinion in election year should consult a lawyer is an ominous signal.

“How will lawyers be able to advise their clients when the officials who’ll be enforcing the law say they’ve run out of time to make sure they understand it?

“This week the smaller parties have an opportunity to limit the confusion.”


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