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EFA Shows Distrust Of Ordinary People

media release
15 May 2008

ELECTORAL FINANCE ACT SHOWS DISTRUST OF ORDINARY PEOPLE

Today the Courts are hearing arguments related to the Electoral Finance Act and its impact on free speech.

“It is hardly surprising that people are worried that the Electoral Finance Act contravenes our Bill of Rights. The law clearly communicates the message that ordinary people cannot be trusted to speak freely. It unreasonably curbs what they are able to say. And worse, its lack of clarity about where exactly these restrictions lie, means that by speaking out about political issues this year members of the public risk breaking the law,” says Alex Penk, Maxim Institute’s Policy and Research Manager.

“The big question is what is an ‘election advertisement’? How much can you say about political issues before the Act clamps down on you?” asks Mr Penk. “Where are the boundaries of all the exceptions, and why do political parties, candidates and the media get a favoured position that ordinary members of the public don’t get?”

“We are already beginning to see the devastating impact of this legislation on Parliament, with politicians tripping over their own law at regular intervals. The Act’s incoherence is inevitably causing MPs from across the parties to spend their time second-guessing what it means. An Act which forces our representatives to spend so much time stumbling round in the dark trying to make sense of it stops them getting on with governing the country and concentrating on issues that affect our everyday lives,” says Mr Penk.

ENDS

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