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National happy to consult only on what suits it

David Parker
Electoral Reform Spokesperson

28 September 2009 Media Statement

National happy to consult only on what suits it

The Government is happy to consult on aspects of electoral law reform that suits it, and won’t look at changes to the donations regime that might disadvantage National, says Labour Electoral Reform Spokesperson David Parker.

The Electoral Finance Reform Proposal issued by Justice Minister Simon Power today shows he is determined to retain the regime governing donations to constituency candidates and political parties even though it became clear at the last election that the rules do not achieve transparency, David Parker said.

“Labour believes the three most important principles in terms of electoral law reform should be fairness between political parties, freedom of expression and transparency.

“Transparency is absolutely essential to achieving integrity in the electoral process, and the correct balance between the principles of equity and freedom of speech,” David Parker said.

“Unfortunately, the current regime on donations doesn’t promote transparency. Labour included the regime in good faith in the Electoral Finance Act 2007, but it failed to achieve its purpose.

“This was shown by the low rates of disclosure by both major parties. National disclosed the source of just $130,000 in donations and Labour just $420,000, though both spent more than $2 million each. This is clearly not transparent.”

David Parker said Labour strongly believed there should be public comment on potential improvements to the existing disclosure regime.

“But while the proposal paper seeks submissions on other issues, National has clearly already made up its mind on the donations regime because it suits their purposes.”

David Parker said issues needing discussion included applying the same threshold for donations for both constituency candidates and political parties to $1000 (now $1000 for constituency candidates but $10,000 for parties), banning overseas donations (except for New Zealanders living overseas for a time), a related party rule to aggregate donations from related parties, an upper limit on donations from a single source, and annual auditing to enable actual income to be compared with declared donations.

“National doesn’t favour proper transparency around donations --- they disclosed less than 10 percent at the last election. It doesn’t suit it. That’s why it’s already made up its mind.”

ENDS

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