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Electoral Finance Law Would Muzzle Public Debate

Electoral Finance Law Would Muzzle Public Debate

Politics is far too important to be left to the politicians, but under
the Electoral Finance law political parties would be the only groups
able to freely debate important issues, the Employers & Manufacturers
Association (Northern) says.

"The bill would muzzle public debate in an election year," said Bruce
Goldsworthy, EMA's acting chief executive.

"This law would also facilitate an election year period during which any
debate on controversial law changes was severely restricted.

"Though our organization does not back political parties, the bill would
prevent us promoting the cause of business and business growth in the
interests of all New Zealanders.

"It would effectively stop us getting a better deal for Auckland, or for
roads, for cutting taxes, or on other issues of intense public interest.

"We would be prevented from speaking out because the law as it stands:

  • Does not define clearly what constitutes political advertising;
  • Has become a compliance nightmare;
  • Is unclear how related or affiliated groups are included or
    excluded from being considered a single entity for the purposes of the
    totally inadequate $120,000 spending cap, and
  • Is unclear on whether the communications to members referred
    to, are restricted to those between persons or include company or any
    other incorporated members.

"All in all the law would muzzle debate because many organizations like
ours would be afraid of being tarnished by accusations they were
breaking the law.

"They would not be prepared to go to court to test whether or not they
complied with its provisions.

"The bill must go back for more consultation.

"In its present form it represents a denial of free speech and indeed of
our democratic traditions."


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