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Electoral forum already on wrong path

Bill English MP
National Party Deputy Leader

5 September 2008

Electoral forum already on wrong path

National Party Deputy Leader Bill English says the partisan announcement today of a panel to review electoral law has already got off on the wrong foot.

“If Labour really wanted a process that was to be fair and enduring then other parties would have been consulted. National has had no input into the process. This is little more than a desperate measure by a Government trying to cover up more than three years of dishonesty over election spending

“It started with their pledge card and has continued through to Helen Clark’s confession that she has always known about Winston Peters’ secret donations.

“The whole country is paying the price of Labour’s manipulation of electoral law. They’ve already broken the rules and are so desperate to hang on to power that they are likely to break them again.”

Mr English says there are some questions that Labour and the Greens need to answer.

“These are significant appointments, made within the three months of a general election. Labour has flagrantly broken the convention around such appointments*.”

Mr English also notes that Labour has deliberately delayed the start of the appointments until after the election.

On December 19 last year, Justice Minister Annette King said: ‘The terms of reference and appointments would be announced in January and the two stages of the review -- the panel's work and the public participation process -- would be completed by April 2009’**.

“The reason for the delay was laid bare in the Electoral Commission’s criticisms this week, when it said the confusion caused by the Electoral Finance Act had had a ‘chilling’ effect on democracy.

“That's exactly what Helen Clark wanted - to silence her critics in election year in the hope she might get one last term on the Treasury benches.”

National has pledged to repeal the self-serving EFA, and work with other parties to build enduring law.

ENDS


* Cabinet Manual: 6.9 … In practice, restraints have tended to be applied from about three months before the general election is due or from the announcement of the election (if the period between the announcement of the election and polling day is less than three months).


**NZPA Dec 19, 2007 ‘Ms King said the terms of reference and appointments would be announced in January and the two stages of the review -- the panel's work and the public participation process -- would be completed by April 2009’.

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