The Electoral Commission has decided that unions can be registered as third parties under the Electoral Finance Act.
It has registered RAM – Residents Action Movement and The Bill and Ben Party as political parties; a logo for the New Zealand Pacific Party and the abbreviated name Kiwi Party for The Kiwi Party.
Its decisions on nine complaints under the EFA and two matters concerning late donations returns will be announced and released once written up, which is expected to be in a week or so.
It also notes that the statute of limitations has expired for prosecution of electoral law offences related to donations returns for 2005 which means it won’t be persuing allegations about Owen Glenn’s donation to NZ First.
But there is no mention of a decision regarding whether or not party logos are election advertisements and therefore require authorisation under the EFA. It’s an important decision. The delay in making it is hampering campaign planning for parties and it’s also having a detrimental impact on my attempts to reduce waste.
I have a dozen reusable shopping bags which I’d been using for several months before January 1st. But because they have a National Party logo on them and the EFA clause on advertising applies from that date I stopped using them.
The number of people likely to be influenced by my bags at the Weston Four Square or Oamaru New World is small, but National Party HQ directed members to abide by the law no matter how petty its restrictions and as the EC is yet to determine the status of logos I’m doing as I’m told and leaving my bags at home.
My shopping bags might be trivial but the question over logos is not a minor technicality. The EC decision will impact on virtually everything political parties do in election year and as the election is now less than four months away the need for a ruling becomes more important by the day.