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Dr Richard Worth: Electoral Finance Bill

14 December 2007 - No. 236

Electoral Finance Bill
The Electoral Finance Bill which is a direct assault on the democratic rights of all New Zealanders completed its committee stages on Tuesday.  However one looks at this legislation three points are clear:

it significantly advantages a government in power by permitting taxpayer funds to be used for the advertisement and praise of government policy
it gives sitting MPs a considerable advantage over opposition challengers because of the ability to spend MP budget funds on profiling
it substantially hampers what are called third parties (but more precisely lobbying groups) from effective campaigning on a cause because of the limitations on spending
The Bill now faces its final reading next Tuesday.  The Government has the support of the majority of the minor parties for its passage.

Redundant regulations
This week the Regulations Review Committee presented its report to Parliament on the inquiry into the ongoing requirement for individual regulations and their impact.

In November 2006 the Committee initiated an inquiry into New Zealand’s regulations currently in force. The last review of this nature was undertaken nineteen years ago in 1988.  This inquiry takes a stocktake of all regulations currently in force. Departmental responses disclosed that out of 2943 regulations currently in force, 526 regulations served no purpose and should be revoked.  The report recommends that the Government revoke these spent regulations.

The inquiry considered mechanisms to ensure more regular systematic review of regulations in force. A range of review mechanisms were considered, including regular and systematic parliamentary and departmental review of regulations.

The committee concluded that the most effective system for regular review of regulations is a sun-setting regime applicable to all statutory regulations.  The regime would be similar to the Australian federal model found in the Legislative Instruments Act 2003. 

Under the system regulations will automatically expire 10 years after they are made unless action is taken to carry over or remake the regulations.

The inquiry also considered the use of exemptions from requirements for regulatory impact statements. The report makes recommendations for governing the use of such exemptions.

The committee’s report sets out in detail the reasons for its findings. The full report is available online at http://www.parliamentnz/en-NZ/SC/Reports/

The closing words
Happy Christmas (or is it more politically correct and sadly in secular New Zealand) “Happy Holidays”.

Political Quote of the Week
"Freedom of expression is the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every other form of freedom." Benjamin N. Cardozo - American jurist and a Justice on the United States Supreme Court (1870-1938)

 
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