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Electoral Commission ruling on Labour flyer

Electoral Commission ruling on Labour flyer

The Electoral Commission advised the Labour Party late yesterday that it believes the party breached the recently-amended Electoral Act over the party's Stop Asset Sales Flyer, says Labour spokesperson Grant Robertson.

Grant Robertson says there is no suggestion Labour has breached the use of Parliamentary resources or taxpayer funding, but the Commission is concerned that the words “authorised by” were not included in an explicit promoter statement.

"Labour had taken the view that the flyer was not an election advertisement under the Act, in part because it had received prior authorization from the Parliamentary Service for its publication", Grant Robertson said. "In any event, it was clear at all times that the party knew of the document and consented to its publication".

“Because the party believed that the pamphlet was not an election advertisement, it did not include on it an explicit promoter statement, which the Act now requires any election advertisement to bear.

“Despite the absence of a formal promoter statement, the pamphlet did include in a prominent way the name and contact details of the party leader, so there could be no doubt as to its author,” Grant Robertson said.

“The commission has told the party that it does not accept its argument that the pamphlet was not an election advertisement. Nor does it accept that the prominent inclusion of the parliamentary leader's name and contact details constituted substantial compliance with the promoter statement requirements of the Act It has also rejected the party's argument that if there was a breach, it was neither wilful nor consequential.

“The party maintains the view that any breach was technical in nature only,” Grant Robertson said. “It regrets that the commission has taken a contrary view, meaning that the matter will now have to be referred to the police for a decision as to whether any prosecution is warranted.

“Labour has advised the commission that it will abide by the commission's interpretation of the legislation. It has withdrawn the pamphlet from circulation, along with another similar publication. Between now and the election, it will apply a wide interpretation of the phrase 'election advertisement', and include formal promoter statements in the terms recommended by the commission on all such material.”

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