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Election laws curb free speech, Clark wrong

Gerry Brownlee MP
National Party Shadow Leader of the House

18 September 2008

Election laws curb free speech, Clark wrong

National Party Shadow Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee says the passage of time has proven Helen Clark dead wrong over the free speech implications of Labour's self-serving Electoral Finance Act.

"Helen Clark dismissed concerns about Labour's attempts to curb free speech in election year as 'hyperbole'. Her empty assurances have now been seriously challenged by both electoral watchdogs and the New Zealand Law Society."

The Electoral Commission says the Electoral Finance Act is having a 'chilling' effect on our democracy, while the Law Society yesterday said it was 'a clear prima facie breach of the right to freedom of expression'.

"This was Labour's intention. It ignored all the warnings and moved to silence the voices of New Zealanders in election year, in the desperate hope Labour will be able to bully its way into one more turn on the Treasury benches.

"Labour does not want to talk about this self-serving piece of legislation, but New Zealanders have longer memories than Helen Clark gives them credit for."

Mr Brownlee says the consequences of the Electoral Finance Act make a lie of Helen Clark's previous positions on free speech.

'We have a country with the most amazing liberty and I will defend that to my last breathing moment', she also said, 'I think as a government we are actually concerned to see that people have the maximum possible freedom they can'.

"On the basis of the verdict from the Electoral Commission and the Law Society, Helen Clark appears to have compromised her principles for political expediency. Labour knew this would be the outcome of a partisan law passed by a slim majority of Parliament."

Mr Brownlee says National agrees with the Law Society that the Electoral Finance Act 'ought to be repealed', and that's what National will do.

To read the Law Society report visit: http://matrix.nzls.org.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/4416/Electoral_Fin ance_Act.pdf

ENDS

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