Russel Norman

Election finance reform spin

by Russel Norman

The proposals to reform campaign finance law were tabled yesterday afternoon. While there are many good elements to them, they do nothing to crack down on anonymous donations to political parties, nor do they crack down on the trusts that National used last time. Yet Minister of Justice Mark Burton is not comfortable about coming clean on it. This from the House today:

Jeanette Fitzsimons: If this bill is passed as it stands, will individuals and corporations still be able to make unlimited anonymous donations to political parties—yes or no?

Hon MARK BURTON: Although the matter relating to donations has been referred to the independent review, which I also announced yesterday, it is certainly the case that the spending limits will be extended to 1 January in an election year, thereby ensuring that although donations will indeed be able to be made, the ability of any party to be grossly overfunded to the point that it overwhelms proper debate will be curtailed. In the end, in New Zealand we want our elections to be a contest of ideas, not a contest of bank accounts.

Which means yes. You can still make anonymous donations to political parties of whatever size. But it’s true that maintaining the caps on campaign spending by parties, and extending the period covered by the cap to the beggining of election year, is important. I just wish he would simply explain it simply and clearly.

Published in Environment & Resource Management by Russel Norman on Tue, July 24th, 2007   

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