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National seeks court clarity on election law

Bill English MP National Party Deputy Leader

11 April 2008

National seeks court clarity on election law

The National Party is going to court to try to get some clarity on Labour's Electoral Finance Act, says National Party Deputy Leader Bill English.

"This is a piece of law that is fundamental to our democracy and our right to free speech. We are four months into the year and there is widespread confusion. As we feared, anyone who wants to have a say in the upcoming election needs a lawyer.

"No one knows what the rules are. The Ministers who pushed this bill through Parliament have offered contradictory answers, and the Electoral Commission has made some quite questionable calls."

Mr English says National is seeking answers to three important questions in the proceedings:

1 - What is a parliamentary purpose? This seeks to clarify what elected parliamentarians and parties can spend their taxpayer-funded budgets on.

2 - Third party registrations. Does the law really allow organisations which are intertwined with political parties to run separate attack campaigns that don't count towards a political party's total election-year spending cap?

3 - Enforcement. What is the basis for referring matters to the police?

"Labour delegates gathering at this weekend's annual congress will be just as interested as National is to try to establish what this self-serving and rushed election law means.

"Mike Williams will have to explain to delegates that all political parties have been paralysed because the law was botched, contradictory, and is proving to be unworkable.

"Labour has effectively shut down its critics, and is actively using the levers of power to secure a steady stream of public opportunities where the Government and Ministers are able to promote a political agenda.

"It's early in the election year and the ministerial 'stunt-o-meter' is already red-lining."

ENDS

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