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National will dump draconian law

John Key MP
National party Leader

12 November 2007

National will dump draconian law

National Party Leader John Key says a National Government will scrap the draconian electoral finance legislation.

“Today, a major newspaper devoted its entire front page to the Electoral Finance Bill and the danger it poses to our democracy and freedom of speech.

“National has been campaigning for months against this travesty of a bill, because we recognise the very real threat it poses to New Zealanders’ rights to freely express their political opinion.

“New Zealanders should be deeply worried when a government is starting to put its own preservation ahead of long-observed bipartisanship on electoral law.

“In a desperate bid to retain power, Labour is planning to regulate political debate for an outrageous one year in every three - by extending the election period to the very first day of election year.

“Third parties – in other words everybody who isn’t a political party – will be subject to tough regulation of how much they can spend and when. They will even have to make returns to a government agency to participate in democracy.

“Meanwhile, it seems that government department advertising that pushes Labour Party policies, like KiwiSaver and Working for Families, will not be restricted at all.

Mr Key says Labour is also preparing this week to ram through an appropriation bill that will legitimise election advertising like Labour’s infamous pledge card, and mean incumbent electorate MPs will be able to spend four times more money than unelected challengers in election year.

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“In other words, there will be two standards of free speech – one for politicians and one for everybody else.

“The Electoral Finance Bill and the appropriation legislation are all about saving Labour by screwing the scrum in its favour.

“In its select committee submission, the Human Rights Commission called the Electoral Finance Bill a ‘dramatic assault’ on fundamental human rights.

“The Law Society said the bill was complex and vague, and made it dangerous for anyone to participate in elections for fear of unknowingly breaking the law.

“But Labour doesn’t care about these submissions - or any of the others pointing out the obvious dangers to our democracy.

“The select committee considering the bill is meeting again today, and the question is whether the Labour and smaller party MPs are listening to the concerns.

“The smaller parties who are supporting this draconian bill should hang their heads in shame, and I call on them to reconsider their support.

“In a couple of weeks’ time the legislation may be law and it will be too late.

“Labour will have written self-serving rules governing political debate in election year.

“That is a disgrace.”

Ends

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