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Electoral Finance Bill: clear as mud

Bill English MP
National Party Deputy Leader

22 November 2007

Electoral Finance Bill: clear as mud

National Party Deputy Leader Bill English says New Zealanders deserve to see in advance the 11th hour amendments that Labour will bolt on to its anti-democratic Electoral Finance Bill.

“When groups including the Law Society, the Human Rights Commission, and the Electoral Commission have all expressed reservations, Labour should be listening. Instead, it continues to rush through a law to silence its critics for one year in every three.

“The Electoral Commission’s criticisms can’t be ignored. When the agency responsible for enforcing the law doesn't understand it, the law must be changed. The confusion was supposed to be eliminated with this bill.

“Helen Clark has now also confirmed that Justice Minister Annette King is looking at last-minute amendments to deal with a raft of serious problems.

“Given that this law is fundamental to our political freedoms, Labour should at least give the public a fair chance to consider the changes.

“While they’re at it, Labour should release the officials’ advice which has been suppressed to date.”

Mr English says, coupled with the Appropriation Bill which National voted against, the Electoral Finance Bill will have a chilling effect on New Zealand’s democracy.

“Current MPs will be able to draw on their taxpayer funding plus the $20,000 they're allowed to spend on their campaign. The definition of what they can spend their taxpayer money on is now so wide that a tax-funded mail drop in the final days of an election campaign would be perfectly legal, and won't count towards their $20,000 campaign limit.

“Meanwhile, candidates who are not MPs will be restricted to spending $20,000 for all of the election year.

“Labour is attempting to screw the scrum in its favour during election year. Increasingly politicised departments will be called on to run strategic communications campaigns, and the public will be denied an equal voice.

“Kill the bill.”

ENDS

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