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Electoral Finance: Bring back Mark Burton

Bill English MP
National Party Deputy Leader

20 November 2007

Electoral Finance: Bring back Mark Burton

National Party Deputy Leader Bill English says the new Minister in charge of Labour's anti-democratic Electoral Finance Bill has utterly failed in her first attempt to answer questions about the draconian legislation, and is calling for Mark Burton to be reinstated as Minister of Justice.

"Public servants publishing media statements on a departmental website could be liable for a fine of up to $10,000. The Minister claims the 'law of commonsense will apply'. Annette King now needs to state which law the public should abide by - her 'law of commonsense', or the law of the land as prescribed by this control freak Labour Government in the Electoral Finance Bill."

Mr English says Mrs King can't even get the definition of electioneering right.

"In response to my questions she repeatedly said that election advertisements have to tell people to vote for or against a specific party or candidate. But the Bill is very clear that this is not the case.

"Section 5(1)(a)(ii) says that an election advertisement includes: 'encouraging or persuading voters to vote, or not to vote, for a type of party or for a type of candidate that is described or indicated by reference to views, positions, or policies that are or are not held, taken, or pursued (whether or not the name of a party or the name of a candidate is stated).

"For example in the run-up to an election, the statement 'Labour committed to pay and employment equity', as appears on the Ministry of Women's Affairs website, is likely to be regarded as an election advertisement.

"In fact, if this statement remains on a Government department website after the Bill is passed, it would constitute an illegal act and the public servant who was responsible may be liable for a fine of up to $10,000."

Mr English has also ridiculed provisions that would force those doing door-to-door canvassing to first give their name, their address, provide a written authorisation from the financial agent of the party and written authorisation from the financial agent for the MP.

"This absolute dogs' breakfast has come about because of a clause which catches so-called 'promoters' of a political party or candidate and broadens the definition of publishing an election advertisement. The definition in the bill now includes in the definition to 'bring to the notice of the public in any other manner'.

"Annette King has made a complete hash of her first outing in Parliament to explain this bill. It is ad hoc, anti-democratic policy and the Minister's answers today proved that. She is making it up as she goes along.

"Kill the bill and bring back Mark Burton!"

ENDS

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