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Committee Listened to Electoral Finance Concerns

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

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Committee Listened to Concerns Raised on Electoral Finance Bill

The National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ) believes that the Justice and Electoral Committee listened to the concerns raised by the NGO community and addressed them, in the Select Committee report on the Electoral Finance bill released yesterday.

The Council supports the intention behind the major changes to the bill, particularly the definition of election advertising, so that it does not affect issues-based related advocacy that non-governmental organisations undertake. The removal of the statutory declaration regime in the bill is also considered a positive move.

“Changes to the definition of an ‘election advertisement’ are a critical step in the right direction,” said Christine Low, NCWNZ National President. “During the oral presentations on the bill, NCWNZ told the Select Committee that the Council did not direct people to vote in a particular way, it provides information about the policies of the political parties and what policies NCWNZ members have adopted through its resolutions at National Meetings. Letters are also written to the various political parties on these resolutions and other policy issues, which are published, along with responses from politicians in the NCWNZ newsletter, The Circular.”

“We appreciate the Committee sympathises with issues-based groups, particularly those who routinely work in such a manner, irrespective of it being an Election year. Groups such as NCWNZ do operate with the main intention of building public awareness and education level, rather than influencing the vote.”

NCWNZ signalled to the Select Committee that it was concerned that the disclosure of large anonymous donations to political parties had not been included in the Bill.

“We are pleased that the Select committee has taken this concern on board and has made recommendations to establish a new regime for anonymous donations,” concluded Christine Low.

ENDS

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