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Electoral Law Reform: Taxpayer Funding For Political Parties Must Be Nipped In The Bud

Responding to the terms of reference for a new review into electoral laws, the New Zealand Taxpayers' Union is calling on politicians to rule out supporting taxpayer funding for political parties.

Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, "Taxpayer funding for political parties is a terrible idea for a number of reasons. Firstly, the criteria for allocating funding will necessarily benefit incumbent political parties, amplifying those already in power and drowning out political outsiders. This goes against the spirit of our liberal multi-party system."

"Secondly, shifting away from private funding towards public funding will shield party leadership from accountability to their grassroots supporters who currently pay campaign bills. In other words, politicians will get sucked further into the Wellington bubble."

"Thirdly and most simply, taxpayers shouldn't be forced to fund the promotion of views they disagree with or find abhorrent. It's one thing to fund MPs to do their jobs in Parliament - it's another thing entirely to fund their propaganda."

"Instead of pouring more public money into the political process, we should be taking this opportunity to scrap the archaic 'broadcasting allocation' which funds election night broadcasts from fringe political parties too hopeless to fundraise for themselves."

On the potential for restrictions on private donations to political parties, Mr Houlbrooke says:

"Limiting donations to political parties won't stop the wealthy from influencing elections. It risks the rise of American-style 'super pac' organisations with shadowy funding sources campaigning on the parties' behalf. At the very least, wealthy donors may simply redirect donations to advocacy groups like the Taxpayers' Union or Greenpeace. Even if we would benefit from such a change, we cannot in good conscience support it."

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