The Electoral Commision has released four more decisons – all quite interesting.
- Display of anti-national banners by Clinton Smith was complained about by Cameron Slater. The Commission found that the banner and associated leaflets were election advertisements under the EFA. Smith claimed to have made a verbal promoter statement of authorisation. The Commission rejected this as being adequate and said tangible items can not have merely verbal authorisation statements. Therefore they found the items contravened s63(2) of the Electoral Finance Act. However they will not ask the Police to investigate Smith for an illegal practice as they found his breach was not wilful as he thought what he had done was necessary. And if does not constitute an illegal practice unless done wilfully.
- A Pete Hodgson fundraising letter for Labour. This was found to be an election advertisement in breach of s63(2) of not having an authorisation statement and 65(1) of not having been formally approved by the Labour Party. However once again they found the breach was not wilful and again no referral to the Police as it is not an illegal practice unless done willfuly.
- National MP Eric Roy’s advertisments in the Southland Express were complained about by Labour MP Lesley Soper. The EC made said “The Electoral Commission believes it is essential to democratic elections that parties can inform the public of the policies which will be implemented if elected and that, particularly in light of New Zealand Bill of Rights Act considerations, it would not be reasonable to regard mere statements of policy as election advertisements and subject to the restraints of the Electoral Finance Act.” They also said “Therefore the Commission is of the view that items which are accounts or reasoned criticisms of policy, or accounts or reasoned criticisms of actions or inactions, generally are not “reasonably” regarded as election advertisements as they are essential to informed democratic elections.“So what can’t you say? “The Electoral Commission considers that accompanying identification of the proponents of such items does not of itself convert the items into election advertisements, but disproportionate display of photographs, names or logos could do so. Other matters that might bring such items within the definition of an election advertisement include the addition of persuasive content which lack an information base such as party slogans, self promotion or unreasoned criticism of opponents, and exhortations to vote in a particular manner.” They cocnluded that Eric Roy’s advertisements were not election advertisements under the EFA.
- National MP Chris Auchinvole’s website was complained about by Oliver Woods. With similiar reasoning to above, the Electoral Commission found the website was not an election advertisement. So National continues to be one of the few parties to have never broken the new law.
In both the first two cases, illegal advertisements were published and the law was broken. But the finding of a lack of intent means no liability for the two individuals concerned.
Also of interest to some may be the news that as Kotahitanga Te Manamotu Hake Tiriti o Waitangi, the New Zealand Liberals, and the South Island Party all failed to register for the election, their $30,000 of broadcasting allocations was redistributed to all the smaller parties