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Election law stifles free speech weeks from vote

Gerry Brownlee MP National Party Shadow Leader of the House

17 October 2008

Election law stifles free speech weeks out from vote

National Party Shadow Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee says just weeks out from an election there is still huge confusion over the laws that cut to the heart of our democracy.

"It was always Labour's intention to sow as much confusion around election laws as it could. That served two purposes. It silenced its critics for most of election year, and it provides cover for the party to campaign on the public purse."

Mr Brownlee is commenting after a community radio station pulled political interviews for fear of being in breach of the draconian Electoral Finance Act.

"Our interpretation is that technically there is no reason this community radio station can't run the interviews, but it does serve to illustrate how deeply flawed Labour's partisan election laws are.

"Even the Electoral Commission isn't able to provide much help, because the electoral watchdog itself says the law is confusing and has had a 'chilling' effect on democracy.

"The confusion didn't happen by mistake - it was a deliberate Labour tactic."

Mr Brownlee says John Key has already announced that a National-led Government will:

* Repeal the Electoral Finance Act, while ensuring transparency around donations remains.

* Reform electoral law through a process that involves all parliamentary parties and the public.

"New Zealanders are sick of being told what light bulbs they can use, what sort of shower they can have, and how much free speech they're allowed in election year. It's time for a fresh start."


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