Somewhat annoyingly, the EFA Repeal Bill is not yet online. But Parliament started the first reading debate on it yesterday, and the Herald reports that it was encouraging:
When Labour’s electoral spokesman David Parker stood to speak in last night’s first reading of the bill to repeal the EFA, he was quick to follow his leader Phil Goff and get Labour’s backdown on record.
“So we do concede that there are imperfections with the existing law, that it did produce an overly complicated regime, that it can be improved.”
It prompted MP Jonathan Coleman to yell “so you’re admitting you got it wrong” . Mr Parker – to his credit – refused to rise to the bait and just agreed, in triplicate.
“I have already admitted that. I’m happy to do mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa again. There were imperfections.”
I thought Parker handled himself well, and with dignity.
Yesterday, Labour and Progressives leader Jim Anderton said they would support its repeal after getting assurances National was genuine about working with them on a more enduring replacement.
Only the Green Party is refusing to support the repeal, saying while it was flawed it remained better than the previous law.
And this tells us more about the Green Party, than anything else.
Mr Anderton put in a plea for National not to take vengeance, saying he accepted it was “aggrieved” by what had happened and believed the EFA needed to be replaced.
“Just as we on this side of the House have come to this view, I ask those on that side to be constructive.”
And sadly Jim Anderton is right. I know there are times when I want “utu”, but at the end of the day the Electoral Act is too important to become a plaything for the Government of the Day.
Mr Parker, Mr Anderton and Greens co-leader Russel Norman all stressed that they stuck by the principles of the EFA – and any replacement had to address the transparency of funding of political parties, as well as limits on how far other people and groups could go in campaigning for a party in an election campaign.
I don’t think there is any serious opposition to transparency around party funding.
The issue of restrictions on third parties is more divisive. Ironically the way it is worded about “limits on how far other people and groups could go in campaigning for a party in an election campaign.”, well the limit is $0. It is illegal under both the old and the new law to publish any advertisement campaigning for a party, without the party’s permission – and the cost comes out of the party’s limit.
What Parker and Anderton really mean is they want limits on how much third parties can spend attacking political parties.
I think the bigger issue is around transparency of third party advertising, rather than limiting it. I also think one needs to look at carrots, not just sticks, when it comes to third party activities. I’ll blog in ore detail some ideas at some stage.Tags: David Parker, Electoral Finance Act, Greens, Jim Anderton