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Election law: Smaller parties likely casualties

Bill English MP National Party Deputy Leader

7 April 2008

Election law: Smaller parties likely casualties

National Party Deputy Leader Bill English says the Electoral Commission should make it clear why it does not appear to be investigating potential breaches of self-serving election laws by Labour's support parties.

"National's interpretation is that both New Zealand First and the Greens are in breach of the authorisation rules relating to billboards and a banner. Even if my amendment passes in Parliament there is no intention of making it retrospective, and even if it was, it provides no relief for New Zealand First.

"Given that the Electoral Commission has handed its one and only 'get-out-of-jail-free' card to Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens may be the first to be prosecuted."

Mr English says it's highly likely no complaint was made about these apparent breaches because the commission has appointed a company to monitor political activity, and it launched investigations into a wrongly authorised Labour CD before any complaint was made.*

"The commission said at the time that it started an investigation after the issue had been raised in Parliament.

"But last week, the Commission revealed to media that it was not investigating any further complaints, other than those on which it had passed judgment."

Those included:

* Labour won't be prosecuted for breaking the rules but the next offender will be.

* Unions represented on Labour's ruling council can spend up to $120,000 on anti-National parallel campaigns.

"The Electoral Finance Act has paralysed political parties and interest groups for the first three months of the year as we all try to work out what the rules actually mean in practice.

"Meanwhile, there is a parade of taxpayer-funded ads on TV every night promoting Labour's policies.

"Three months into the year, Labour's self-serving efforts to screw the scrum against its critics in election year look to be working just as they intended."

ENDS

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