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Bill repealing EFA introduced to Parliament

Hon Simon Power
Minister of Justice

12 February 2009 Media Statement

Bill repealing EFA introduced to Parliament

A bill that repeals the Electoral Finance Act (EFA) was introduced to Parliament today by Justice Minister Simon Power.

The Electoral Amendment Bill 2009 delivers on the Government's election promise to repeal the controversial Electoral Finance Act 2007 within its first 100 days.

As an interim measure, the bill reinstates the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act 1993 – the law that preceded the EFA – that deal with electoral finance, while retaining the donations regime from the EFA.

The interim bill:
• Reinstates the election expense and campaign advertising provisions of the Electoral Act 1993.
• Retains the stronger compliance and enforcement regime that was a feature of the EFA, including increased penalties for corrupt and illegal practices and serious electoral finance offences, and an extended time over which electoral finance offences can be prosecuted.
• Removes the “regulated period” that started on 1 January in an election year for expenditure of political parties and candidates, and returns it to the three-month period prior to polling day.
• Removes the heavy regulation of “third parties”.
• Removes the concept of “financial agents”.

Mr Power said the interim bill is needed to ensure there is a fair and workable electoral law in place should there be a by-election before a more enduring regime is being developed.

"No one can deny that the EFA was enacted without the broad cross-party support that has historically characterised electoral reform.

"That’s because it seemed less about levelling the playing field and more about settling political scores

"The EFA lacks legitimacy. It resulted in unnecessary legal action because of confusion about who is and who is not a third party, and what does and what does not constitute election advertising.

"Even the Electoral Commission said it had a chilling effect on political participation.

"The purpose of this bill is simply to implement an interim regime before work starts on a new electoral finance law, to be put in place before the 2011 election.

"It’s my intention that political parties and the public will have an opportunity for input at more than one stage in this process, both before and after a bill has been introduced.

"I’m encouraged by the willingness of all parties to meet with me to discuss this bill and the way ahead, and even those that have indicated they will vote against it have indicated they want to be part of the next phase of reform.

"In more ways than one way, this bill and the subsequent consultation process will return democracy to our electoral finance laws," Mr Power said.

ENDS

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