by Denise Roche
Yesterday the Government announced proposed changes to the Local Electoral Act around campaign financing to come into force in time for next year’s local body elections.
This move is a clear admission from the Government that John Banks should have been sacked from Cabinet because of his actions around campaign donations from Kim Dotcom and SkyCity earlier in the year. This issue has become even more interesting, given the publication of the police file on the investigation into John Banks, which makes it even clearer that John Banks has breached the ethical standards required for Government Ministers.
The Government is now having to legislate to cover the huge gaps in the local government donation rules made clear by the John Banks affair, which the Greens have been fighting against for years. Back in 2009, we drafted a Members Bill, which is still in the ballot under in my name, to regulate the influence of wealth in local body election campaigns and to promote transparency and accountability.
The changes announced today are a step in the right direction, but the Government haven’t gone far enough to promote true transparency.
In particular, the Government hasn’t dealt with the regulation of third party spending, which our bill does address. The influence of third parties in local government elections is becoming increasingly relevant and it’s important that third parties involved in local body elections are under the same regulation as during central government elections.
People want honesty in politics and have a right to know who is funding their politicians. Real democracy should be a battle of ideas, not money.