Preserving the loopholes – National’s approach to Electoral Finance

datePosted on 06:00, February 11th, 2009 by Anita

This week we look certain to see National repeal most of the Electoral Finance Act under urgency. While Simon Power is publicly stating they’re going to keep the disclosure rules, which sounds good but … as National well knows the disclosure rules have loopholes.

Like the old rules they allow organisations and individuals to wash large donations by cutting them into smaller donations which fit below the “anonymous” donations threshold. This is the same practice that was enabled by a similar loophole under the old electoral finance rules.

If National was committed to transparency it would be closing that loophole now, and publicly shaming any party that refused to support the action. In reality, of course, National is committed to the appearance of clean hands while maintaining funding routes for its large donors.

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10 Responses to “Preserving the loopholes – National’s approach to Electoral Finance”

  1. StephenR on February 11th, 2009 at 09:11

    You focus on National (and by implication its coalition-or-whatever-they-are partners), but this paragraph from the article you link to reveals a bit more, wouldn’t you say?

    All parties except the Green Party have said they will support its repeal – and the Greens are leaning towards doing so but are waiting for a briefing from Mr Power today before making a decision.

    Could be ALL parties. Which would actually be quite bizarre.

  2. Lew on February 11th, 2009 at 09:58

    SR:

    Could be ALL parties. Which would actually be quite bizarre.

    Coalition makes law, gets voted out because it turns out to be bad law. Former opposition coalition who told them it was bad law invites them to be involved in the repeal and drafting of new law, to which everyone agrees.

    I think it’s democracy working as intended; the worst possible case would be parties sticking blindly to their partisan guns.

    L

  3. BLiP on February 11th, 2009 at 10:04

    That lone voice of common sense at the New Zealand Fox News Herald, Brian Rudman, makes some pertinent points and has some interesting figures in relation to this in his piece today.

    I haven’t made up my mind yet as to whether political parties should be government funded, privately funded, or a mix of the two. One thing I would insist on is transparency.

    I’ve seen somewhere on KP the suggestion that it should be citizens and not corporations that have the greatest say in the running of our society. I would say the same should apply to political party donations: only citizens can make donations, not businesses.

  4. Inventory2 on February 11th, 2009 at 11:06

    Lew – it may indeed by “democracy working as intended”, but isn’t it strange that Annette King is about to vote for the repeal of a law about which she said, at the conclusion of her speech in the swecond reading debate:

    “In conclusion, I say that this bill will restore confidence in a fair and transparent electoral process in time for the next election.”

    So much for the “Law of common-sense” methinks! However you spin it, it represents a major u-turn by Labour.

  5. Lew on February 11th, 2009 at 11:08

    IV2: I, for one, think it’s wonderful to have pollies who are prepared to admit they were wrong. Even if the realisation is forced upon them somewhat :)

    L

  6. StephenR on February 11th, 2009 at 11:54

    Hm, I should’ve said that the fact that they’re keeping the ‘stringent disclosure rules’ means that it makes it a hell of a lot easier for the parties so support dumping the rest!

  7. Rich on February 12th, 2009 at 14:05

    I fail to see why this requires urgency when there isn’t going to be an election for 2 1/2 years?

    I have the strong suspicion that this will be the Nats last word on the subject and there will be no replacement legislation passed before the next election.

    Labour should not be supporting this and it’s another example of how Goff is failing to oppose.

  8. Anita on February 12th, 2009 at 14:14

    Rich,

    Will the legislation retrospectively make not illegal any breaches of the EFA last election?

    Will the legislation remove the requirements of parties and third parties to report on last year’s activities as the EFA required?

    Will the current reporting requirements be removed putting them back to the old requirements for the next two years?

  9. Rich on February 12th, 2009 at 14:29

    Are they seriously doing that?

    If the nats think it’s ok to retrospectively change legislation, maybe the next Labour government should reinstate the EFA and prosecute the breaches.

  10. Anita on February 12th, 2009 at 14:42

    Rich,

    I don’t know. Is the Bill out yet? The Nats have a mystery meat approach to bills-to-be-passed-under-urgency

    It is not unusual to effectively forgive past breaches when you decriminalise things. It doesn’t seem so straight forward in this case.

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