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Government’s '13th hour' Concession to Citizenship

Maori Party on Government’s '13th hour' Concession to Citizenship

Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader of the Maori Party

Wednesday 19 December 2007

The Maori Party has today been pleased to learn of the Government’s announcement to establish a Citizen’s Jury to review electoral administration and political party funding.

“This is an idea which we supported throughout the passage of the Electoral Finance Bill” said Dr Sharples.

“On 15 June this year, our President, Professor Whatarangi Winiata, gave an address at the Symposium on Political Party and Election Campaign Funding in which he recommended a publically-appointed independent body should be set up to lead an inquiry into campaign finance reform”.

“It was his view that “no Parliament should ever be so arrogant as to make changes to the nature of our democracy without testing the policy amongst the citizenship” said Dr Sharples.

“And so, when the Green Party came forward with their amendment to establish an independent review panel and a citizen’s assembly, it was one of the few instances in the passage of the [Electoral Finance] Bill, where we gave our support” said Dr Sharples.

The proposal outlined in Supplementary Order Paper 170 was debated on 6 December 2007 and supported by the Green and Maori Party. The proposal was voted down by Labour, National, NZ First, United Future, ACT, Progressive and the two independent members.

“We are delighted that Labour has come to its senses, in the interests of emphasizing democratic participation” said Dr Sharples. “We'd have had some constructive input to make about the process too, had we been asked".

“Obviously, others will have plenty to say in speculating about their motive(s) for this dramatic about-turn” said Dr Sharples. “We are just pleased to think that there will be an opportunity for the exercise of democratic participation – despite the disastrous elephant which emerged in the form of the Electoral Finance Bill”.

“The key for us has always been, that the public be able to have a say, to design and determine election finance laws which work in their interests rather than the self-interest of politicians and their parties” said Dr Sharples.

“We'd like to encourage all of our people to get involved in nominating names for the expert panel and the citizen’s jury process” said Dr Sharples.


ENDS

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