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Campaign for the Repeal of Electoral Finance Act

PRESS RELEASE
By John Boscawen
12 February 2008

Campaign for the Repeal of the Electoral Finance Act
Nationwide Programme of Protests planned - commencing Auckland Sunday 9th March

On its last day of sitting of 2007 Parliament passed the Electoral Finance Act. Today, the first day of the 2008 session is an appropriate day to protest in parliament the passing of the Act and to announce plans for a nationwide programme of protest marches and demonstrations against the Act. I, and others, plan to run a campaign for the Act’s repeal. We will be organising a nationwide series of protests and marches. Protests are planned for every major metropolitan and provincial city in New Zealand. The first march will be held on Sunday 9th March in Auckland, leaving the Auckland Town Hall in Queen Street at 2.30pm.

I am taking this action because:

1. The Act unreasonably restricts the rights of private citizens to speak out either in support of, or against political parties and individual politicians – at a time when it had been made much easier for politicians to spend taxpayer’s money to do so.

2. Parliament ignored the protestations of the Human Rights Commission and passed into law an Act which restricts free speech for one parliamentary term in three. The Human Rights Commission had recommended a restriction on free speech restriction of no more than three months. It was ignored.

3. Parliament ignored both the Electoral Commission, and the Human Rights Commission in setting the maximum spending for third parties at $120,000. The Electoral Commission, endorsed by the Human Rights Commission had recommended a maximum limit of $250-$300,000.

4. Parliament has passed a law which will make it much harder to challenge an incumbent MP.

5. Parliament ignored the Human Rights Commission when it said that: “It would be essential that any changes be subject to the widest possible public scrutiny to ensure the credibility and legitimacy of whatever electoral reform emerges”. Parliament passed the Act without referring it to a further round of public consultation.

6. Bodies such as the Human Rights Commission and the Electoral Commission are staffed with independent state servants and operate independently of the Government. These issues go to the heart of our democracy and govern the very way in which we conduct our elections. It is unconscionable that Parliament has chosen to ignore both the Human Rights Commission and the Electoral Commission on such important constitutional issues.

Parliament passed the law despite the protest and objections of many thousands of New Zealanders. The Act unfairly and undemocratically restricts the rights of our citizens. We all enjoy the benefits of the freedoms that our forbears fought for and I and others are committed to striving to do something to maintain it.

ENDS

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