Electoral finance reform

The process for the reform of electoral finance is so much better than it was for the now ex-Electoral Finance Act.

Aiming to get good law rather than handicap the opposition is a good start; and consultation, discussion and genuine attempts to get cross-party support ought to result in something fairer and enduring.

Justice Minister Simon Power has released a proposal document for discussion.

* Broadcasting allocation – I don’t support any public funding of political parties and their activities. Whether or not there is any public funding, parties, other groups and individuals should be free to spend their own money on broadcasting should they choose to do so.

* MPs’ work vs electioneering:

The Parliamentary Service Commission is considering these issues as part of the process for developing a permanent definition of funding entitlements for parliamentary purposes in the Parliamentary Service Act 2000; in addition, the Speaker of the House has recently convened a cross-party committee that has developed a public disclosure regime for Parliamentary Service funding.  

 The Government proposes to ensure consistency between the Parliamentary Service Commission’s work and the work undertaken as part of the electoral finance reform by raising the suggestions made in the submissions with this cross-party committee for further consideration.

It is often difficult to distinguish between parliamentary activities and electioneering. During the election period any advertising which is paid for by Parliamentary Services should be restricted to factual information which helps constituents such as electorate office hours.

* Campaign expenditure limits haven’t changed since 1995. they need to be raised to take account of bigger electorates which were established by MMP and be adjusted for inflation.

* Regulated campaign period – should not advantage the governing party and should not be retrospective.

* Disclosing identity of promoter – requiring a real name is reasonable. I am not sure why it is necessary to also have an address on the material, especially for parties which all have registered offices.

Other discussion on the proposals can be found at Kiwiblog  , SOLO (where Lindsay Perigo is not impressed),  Not PC (who agrees with Lindsay; and Monkeywithtypewriter (who applauds the cross-party approach)

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