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Electoral Law: Labour's Political Muzzle Starts


John Key MP
National Party Leader
31 December 2007

Labour's political muzzle starts

Labour's clampdown on political speech starts tomorrow as Helen Clark's self-serving electoral law takes effect for an election that could be up to 11 months away, says National Party Leader John Key.

"When New Zealanders awake to greet the New Year, they will be subject to draconian new rules devised by Labour that will clamp down on their political speech in a way that hasn't been seen in our history before.

"The ability of Kiwis to participate in political activity from tomorrow will be severely restricted by the most onerous set of election rules New Zealand has ever seen.

"Tomorrow, Kiwis will know there's still a significant period of time until the election campaign and they will surely ask why their freedom of speech is being restricted so early in election year.

"The only logical conclusion they can come to is that Helen Clark and Labour want to control dissenting voices, so she can get a fourth term.

"Helen Clark's anti-democratic and self-serving Electoral Finance Law is offensive. It is an assault on free speech and an affront to democracy.

"The depth of feeling against this law is well illustrated by numerous newspaper editorials up and down the country. (see attached examples)

"Already, Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt, fighting against funding cuts at the Southern Institute of Technology, has said he is prepared to go to prison to fight for his right to campaign in election year on issues he cares about.

"Today he ran newspaper advertisements urging New Zealanders not to vote Labour at the election. He is not prepared to register with a Government agency from tomorrow as a 'third party' and submit to ridiculous rules.

"Our democracy is the loser from this law, which is why National will repeal it and start again in a bipartisan way. We will ensure there is genuine consultation with all interested parties, and the wider public, before Parliament votes on changes.

"Electoral law is simply too important just to leave to a narrow majority of MPs to decide. Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened with the Electoral Finance Law - a narrow majority of Parliament decided with no agreement from the major opposition party, nor the wider public.

"Labour goes on about stopping 'big money'.

"But New Zealanders should know that from tomorrow, millions of dollars - of their money - will be funnelled through Government departments to advertise Labour policy in election year. Meanwhile, so-called third parties can only spend $120,000.

"Helen Clark and Labour have lost touch of the real issues New Zealanders are concerned about - like the hundreds of people leaving every week for Australia for opportunities they can't find here, our infrastructure deficit, crime and the rising cost of mortgages.

"National will concentrate in election year on the issues that matter to Kiwis.

"Helen Clark, meanwhile, will concentrate on clinging to power - even if that means eroding our democracy and freedom of speech."

ENDS

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