As I said earlier the protection o parliamentary privilege saw the challenge to the Electoral Finance Bill dismissed. The similiar case against the Electoral Finance Act also was dismissed on the grounds it was asking the Court for an abstract ruling (ie just asking whether the EFA breached the Bill of Rights Act).
John Boscawen made some comments in the earlier thread which are worth repeating here:
Firstly there can be no doubt that one of the government’s orginal intentions was that anyone who wanted to express an opinion on any political issue in election year would first be required to sign a statutory declartion before they spent a single dollar doing so. ( and Graeme Edgler and others can you quote many examples of not even having to spend a dollar before being caught) .
That is right, whether you agreed with a government policy or you had to first sign a statutory declaration.
The Crown Law office specifically considered this issue and concluded that it was reasonable and was not inconsistent with the provisions of the Bill of Rights. ( although we should be grateful that they did at least state this was at the outer limit of what would be acceptable). That opinion is dated 26 June 2007, one month before the bill had its first reading. Presumably the Attorney General acted on that advice when he did not notify parliament that the EFB was inconsistent with Bora.
To me it is incomprehensible that the Crown Law office could consisder that it would be acceptable to make all New Zealanders first sign a statutory declaration before they spent a sinle dollar expressing a political view in election year. I would think that most New Zealanders, whether they supportted the left or the right wing of politics would consider this unacceptable.
We took the action we did becausee in my view that approval could not go unchallenged. To allow it to go unchallenged will allow the Crown Law office to write similiar opinions in future. We were looking to the court to tell the Crown Law office and politicians of all persuassions that this was not acceptable.
That original Crown Law opinion was a shocker. The Law Society and Human Rights Commission made mincemeat of it. One does have to wonder how it came to be signed off.Tags: Bill of Rights Act, Crown Law, Electoral Finance Act, Electoral Finance Bill, John Boscawen