18 December 2007
More Transparent Election Law Welcome
“The CTU called for more open, transparent elections and a limit on the undue influence of wealthy interests, and the Electoral Finance Bill, passed today, is an important step in that direction,” CTU president Helen Kelly said.
“Like many others, the CTU proposed changes to the third-party definitions so that they more carefully targeted electoral speech, rather than wider political activity, and the revised Bill appears to have fixed these problems.”
“Recent debate over the Electoral Finance Bill has ranged from the sensible to the almost hysterical, but what has been largely absent is the very real reasons why we needed change in the first place.”
“The was strong public interest in reform following the last election which saw millions in secret funding to the two main political parties and a third party spending over $1 million seeking to discredit two political parties and clearly influence the election outcome.”
“Unions defend the right of all groups to have a say in issues that affect them, including through participation in the electoral process. But there is every reason to be very cautious about defending the rights of wealthy interests to spend millions of dollars procuring electoral objectives.”
“Freedom of expression or freedom of speech through expensive mass advertising are not freedoms that every person can exercise. The average New Zealand income is around $34,000, and so a third-party spending limit of three and a half times that amount needs to be seen in this light.”
“We don’t think electoral reform should stop with the Electoral Finance Bill, and want public funding and a cap on donations to political parties to stay on the agenda for future consideration,” Helen Kelly said.