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Justice Minister changes story on election ads

Bill English MP
National Party Deputy Leader

18 June 2008

Justice Minister changes story on election ads

National Party Deputy Leader Bill English says Labour appears to have changed its mind on a public pledge to include a tax-funded brochure as an election expense.

“Annette King told Parliament the ‘We’re Making a Difference’ brochure would be counted against Labour’s election-year spending cap. Today, she refused to confirm that approach. It appears Labour has changed its mind, just as it did with the pledge card in 2005.”


Mr English says papers released under the Official Information Act reveal Labour has attempted to bully electoral watchdogs over the controversial tax-funded brochure which is now the subject of a police inquiry.

“You can’t trust Labour when it comes to electoral law.”

Labour Party Secretary Mike Smith wrote to the Electoral Commission on April 8 to dispute its ruling that the Labour brochure was in breach of the law.

The letter says: 'I would ask that a correction be entered on the Commission website, clearly indicating that any alleged breach was not a breach by the Labour Party. I would also like to take the opportunity to make submissions to the Commission regarding the way in which it handles the application of the law in relation to political parties'.

Mr English says that leaves Labour with a “credibility problem”, because two days after the letter was sent, Justice Minister Annette King was promising the public that Labour accepted the Commission’s ruling.

On April 10, Annette King told Parliament: ‘The general secretary of the Labour Party has already said in the election advertisement that it is attributable to the party expenses, or will be attributed’. And that: ‘The secretary of the Labour Party has decided that this particular booklet … will be apportioned against Labour Party expenses’.

Mr English says Labour has been exposed telling the public one thing, and doing another.

“The Labour Party needs to explain why they promised the public the spending would count as an election expense, while its officials were arguing about it and trying to get the Electoral Commission to publish a correction.”


ENDS


Attached: Letter from Mike Smith to Electoral Commission – 2 pages. [word doc]

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