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Mapp Report - 23 November 2007
The Mapp Report

The High Priestess of Common Sense; a new role for the Minister of Justice, in charge of the Electoral Finance Bill. Legislators and judges will be saved so much trouble; don’t worry too much about tricky bits of the law, or poorly drafted legislation – just take recourse to the law of common sense and it will all be sorted.

Common sense law – yeah right!
At least law students of the future won’t have to struggle through cases of a hundred or more pages. The job of judges will be a breeze. Forget the hard bits; just refer to the law of common sense.

Now that the Labour Government has dispensed with the pesky principle that neither the Minister of Justice nor the Attorney General need legal training, Parliament won’t need to sit so often wrestling with complicated law – the first principle of the constitution will be the law of common sense.

It is just a pity that they are still stuck with an Electoral Finance Bill of 158 clauses that even the Electoral Commissioner, traditionally one of Labours favourites, has described as almost impossible to interpret.

Stifling debate
Annette King continues to make it up as she goes – what else would one expect from the Minister of Common Sense? She now thinks that any politician who talks about what a future Parliament could do, is electioneering, and must be caught by the Bill. For instance if I say after 1 January 2008, that National would repeal the Electoral Finance Act, in a speech or article (like this one) then that is electioneering and will be caught by the $20,000 limit. It will make for a very dull election year.

Stopping free speech
But that is exactly Labour’s plan. They don’t want anyone to discuss politics next year, and heaven forbid actually talking about changing the government. If you do, it all has to be added up, accounted for – and probably stopped. Of course, Labour will say they don’t want to stop free speech; they only want to stop paid speech. But paper is not free, halls are not free, megaphones and sound systems are not free. So anything that is said about virtually any law or policy that might need changing, will be caught.

Draconian restrictions
The Bill is draconian. It is full of new untried and untested concepts. Every third year (just coincidentally election year) it is going to be hard to talk about the issue, the election, and about changing governments.

And Minister, the Law of Common Sense will not save you from the judgment of the people.

23 NOVEMBER 2007


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