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PSA Pleased With Changes to Electoral Finance Bill

PSA MEDIA RELEASE
November 19, 2007
For Immediate Use

PSA Pleased With Changes to Electoral Finance Bill

The PSA is pleased with changes made to the Electoral Finance Bill as it makes the funding of political parties more transparent which is good for democracy.

“We support the amendments that restrict anonymous donations to political parties and create
stricter disclosure rules for donations from secret trusts,” says Brenda Pilott, National Secretary of the PSA which has 55,000 members working in the state sector and local government.

“These changes should mean that wealthy individuals and groups can’t use their wealth to try and buy an election,” says Brenda Pilott.

The need for this change was highlighted during the last general election when the Exclusive Brethren poured more than a million dollars into a secret campaign to try and influence the outcome of the election.

The PSA is pleased to see the wide definition of election advertising has been dropped from the bill because it was undemocratic.

“The wide definition restricted the ability of third parties, like unions and other advocacy groups, from providing information about the impact of political party policies on people’s lives,” says Brenda Pilott.

“We support the narrowing of the definition of electoral advertising as this will allow the union to communicate with its members and the public on issues, such as changes to the public service or local government, that would have a direct impact on their lives.”

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The PSA is also pleased that the cap on election spending by third parties has been raised from $60,000 to $120,000.

“The $60,000 cap was too low to enable third parties to get their views on issues in front of the public
says Brenda Pilott. “The $60,000 cap would have stifled legitimate public debate during election campaigns and we believe $120,000 is a far more realistic theshold.”

The PSA supports the changes made to the Electoral Finance Bill as they address the key concerns the union and many other groups, such as the Human Rights Commission and the Coalition for Open Government, had about the Bill.

“As we stated in our submission we support the bill’s aim of strengthening parliamentary democracy by ensuring that wealth does not determine the outcome of elections,” says Brenda Pilott. “However we would still like to see an extension of state funding of election activities.”

Taxpayers already fund certain political party activities through parliamentary funding. This is transparent, subject to scrutiny and accepted as part of the support for New Zealand’s parliamentary democratic structure.

“Extending this to funding for election campaigns would ensure political parties could still legitimately present their views to the electorate while at the same time, ensuring no one party has an undue advantage,” says Brenda Pilott.

ENDS

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