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New structure sought for electoral institutions

Thursday, 20 September 2001 Media Statement

New structure sought for electoral institutions

The Government is considering setting up a new agency to be responsible for the administration of all election matters.

The Associate Minister of Justice, Margaret Wilson says the new agency would take over responsibility for elections in 2003, after the next expected general election in 2002.

The planning for a new structure results from the work of the Election Framework Taskforce, established by the government to provide advice on long-term improvements to the way we run elections. A separate taskforce has previously reported on short-term improvements which should be made for the operation of the 2002 election. An additional 1.2 million was allocated in the budget for 2001/2 and a further 4 million for 2002/3.

Election work is now divided between the Chief Electoral Office, the Electoral Commission and the Electoral Enrolment Centre of NZ Post.

- The Chief Electoral Office conducts general elections, by-elections and referendums.
- The Electoral Commission registers political parties and party logos, receives registered parties' annual returns of donations and election expenses, allocates election broadcasting time and funds to eligible political parties and conducts public education about electoral matters.
- The Electoral Enrolment Centre is a self-contained unit of New Zealand Post Ltd which, under contract to the Ministry of Justice, is responsible for compiling and maintaining the electoral rolls, conducting the Maori Electoral Option, and the operation of the 67 registrars of electors - one for each electorate.

Cabinet's Policy Committee has asked for a report by the end of October with detailed proposals for a new agency that integrates responsibility for electoral administration. Advice has been sought on

- the composition of the new agency, including whether it should include political appointees for particular functions,
- the accountability of the new agency, including its relationship to Ministers and Parliament
- the financial and legislative implications of these proposals
- a time table and implementation plan for shifting responsibility to the new agency in 2003
- The process and timing for a substantial review of the whole Electoral Act

ENDS

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