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Coalition saddened by passage of Elect Finance Act

PR: Free Speech Coalition saddened by passage of Electoral Finance Act

[Embargoed until passage of EFA at around 5.10 p,]

The Free Speech Coalition, set up to campaign against the Electoral Finance Bill, is sad that MPs from Labour, NZ First and the Greens have ignored the massive public sentiment against the bill.

The Act discourages individuals and groups from participating in the electoral process and spending their own money, while at the same time allows MPs and parliamentary parties to far more easily use taxpayer funds on their election campaigns and not even have it count towards their spending limits. It is the ultimate act in hypocrisy.

The MPs have

- Ignored the Law Society's advice that the Bill should be scrapped

- Ignored the Human Rights Commission opposition to the regulated period, and their request to allow the public to submit on the amended Bill

- Ignored the NZ Institute of Charted Accountant's advice that the Bill is unworkable

- Ignored the Electoral Commission's advice on spending limits

- Failed to provide legislative certainty around the exemptions for MPs

- Protected anonymous donations with massive loopholes which may result in less, not more, disclosure

- Continually misrepresented key clauses of the Bill

"New Zealand has no written constitution. At the end of the day 61 MPs in Parliament can pass any law they like, no matter how repugnant. Previously constitutional conventions have protected Acts like the Electoral Act, but the passage of the Electoral Finance Bill sees the demise of that convention." said spokesperson David Farrar.

"We hoped the parties supporting this Bill would listen to the near universal opposition from the media, from the legal profession, and from the public and do the right thing. Sadly they have chosen not to.

"We do not believe there should be no consequences for those parties which passed the Electoral Finance Act into law. The NZ Herald correctly labeled it as an "Attack on Democracy" and we believe it is time for Democracy to attack back.

"The Free Speech Coalition will commence an advertising campaign tomorrow against parties and MPs which voted for the Electoral Finance Act. This campaign will continue into 2008. A media advisory with details of the campaign will be released tomorrow.

ENDS

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