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Press Release by John Boscawen

Press Release by John Boscawen

November 8th, 2007

Today I launched a nationwide radio advertising campaign on several stations over the Radio Network and Radioworks stations including NewstalkZB, Radio Live, More FM and The Rock.

Audio files of the 30 and 60 second ads are available by emailing me on john@boscawen.co.nz

The primary purpose of my campaign was to bring to New Zealander’s attention the fact that the Human Rights Commission’s principal submission on the Electoral Finance Bill has been ignored by the government.

The Commission said in paragraph 10.2 of its submission dated September 7th .2007 that : “By limiting freedom of expression and creating a complex regulatory framework in the way that it does, the Electoral Finance Bill unduly limits the rights of all new Zealanders to participate in the electoral process. The Commission therefore considers that the Bill is inherently flawed and should be withdrawn.” (underlining added).

It concluded by saying in paragraph 10.5 “ The bill in its current form represents a dramatic assault on two fundamental rights New Zealanders cherish, freedom of expression and the right of informed citizens to participate in the electoral process” .

I have been waiting patiently for the government to act on the submission of the Commission and withdraw the bill and start again as the Commission recommended. It has failed to do so, and so last week I commenced (with others) legal proceedings against the Attorney General on this matter. Today I have followed that up with this radio campaign.

I am being totally open, honest and transparent.

I believe if this bill is passed New Zealand will be a very different place. It will not be a democracy. There will be massive benefits to an incumbent government, be it Labour or National led. This can hardly result in fair elections and I believe the Human Rights Commission has seen this.

In addition to their written submission, the Human Rights Commission, through Chief Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan and Commissioner Dr Judy McGregor, gave an oral submission to a specially convened meeting of the Justice and Electoral Select Committee in Wellington on October 18th. I attended that meeting.

The Commissioners said at that meeting that if their recommendation was not followed and the bill was not to be withdrawn, it would be important that:

(a) The proposed regulatory period of up to eleven months (assuming a November 30th election), during which previously free and democratic speech is subject to restriction, be reduced to the current three month period; and

(b) Given the major constitutional issues involved, whatever changes the government did introduce must be open to a further round of public consultation.

Listening to the questions and comments from Green party MP Metiria Turei and Labour MP David Benson- Pope that morning I have absolutely no confidence that the government will act on these recommendations either. (I can email an audio file of that meeting).

In short, I believe the government has treated the people of New Zealand with absolute disdain on this matter. We still do not know what changes there will be to the bill, and I fear these will be introduced at the last minute and the bill forced through under urgency. Worse still, we are likely to end up with the most restrictive regulatory period of any western democracy.

I do not know what this campaign will ultimately cost me financially but I can not think a more noble cause that fighting to preserve our fragile democracy. I never thought I would have to campaign to protect the very tenets of that democracy, but I will and I am.

The Human Rights Commission was set up to comply with our United Nations obligations and to protect the rights of ordinary New Zealanders. It is headed by Rosslyn Noonan, a former trade unionist and National Secretary of the teachers union, the NZEI. I have a huge respect for Rosslyn Noonan and the independence and professionalism she has brought to this task. She has not been able to run these ads, so I have done it for her.


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