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Democracy reforms are a Green win but we still need to cap donations

A strong Green voice in Parliament has helped reduce the influence large secret money will have in future elections and finally ensured overseas New Zealanders will retain the right to vote even while stranded by the Pandemic. But, the Government needs to go further to ensure our democracy works for everyone.

“Thanks to pressure from the Green Party, the Government is taking action to reduce the influence big money has in our politics. However, Labour needs to go further if Aotearoa is to have a truly level playing field where every New Zealander has an equal say in our democracy,” says Green spokesperson for electoral reform, Golriz Ghahraman.

“The Green Party has been the only voice consistently calling for changes to the way our elections are funded. Thanks to this work, we will now be able to know the identity of anyone donating more than $5,000 to any political party.

“What this means is that the names of wealthy donors who give to political parties in order to further their own interests will have to be revealed. Finally we will be able to see how big money is influencing the decisions that affect all of our lives.

“Only last week we heard about the influence wealthy individuals were having on New Zealand First’s position on the capital gains tax in the last term of Government. It is not inconceivable to think that we may have a capital gains tax in place now if it weren’t for the ability of wealthy people to donate anonymously.

“But our work on these important changes is far from finished. The failure to introduce any cap on big money that can be poured into our democracy leaves us vulnerable to the kind of interference that may stop a wealth tax, rent controls, building affordable homes, or urgent climate action.

“No one wants an American style of politics in New Zealand. Together with a cap on how much can be donated to political parties each year, we can truly remove the risk of big money interference in New Zealand democracy. And this is precisely what my Electoral (Strengthening Democracy) Amendment Bill, which was introduced to Parliament last month, will achieve.

“The Green Party also welcomes the changes to eligibility rules for overseas voters, also introduced in my Democracy Bill. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we were the only party calling for an extension to the three-year time-frame so New Zealanders stuck overseas can still exercise their democratic rights

“The changes announced today are a step forward but it is disappointing that it is only a temporary measure for the 2023 General Election. The residency requirement must be removed for all citizens, as is the case in most other countries, so that there are no longer unnecessary barriers to participation.”

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