The Hollow Woman

Forgot to cover a column last week by Fran O’Sullivan.  The first half is covering the Key Therapeutics Medicines issues (which I have previously blogged on).  The second part I am highlighting:

Clark’s game is more immediate. While Key has been on the road the Prime Minister has cooked National’s election goose with a legislative gerrymander in a dirty deal cooked up between Labour and the minor parties.

Clark had sworn to put an end to the anonymous trust funds and donors who funnelled cash to National at the last election (and Labour).

The “Hollow Woman” has now decided its all right – long after Brash’s ousting – for political parties to be funded by secret donations from wealthy donors. Particularly hers.

But Clark’s also ensured that the upcoming election fight will be on her territory.

The Electoral Finance Bill caps third-party expenditure at $60,000, attacks freedom of expression, and, makes it illegal for publishers to print advertisements campaigning against policies the Government backs without making onerous checks to ensure clients are within the law. It’s an extraordinarily draconian attack on New Zealanders’ democratic rights.

Indeed it is.  A regime which will require statutory declarations from almost any person in NZ who want to publish criticism of the Government.

And the scope of the proposed law is so wide that organisations who would never have thought of themselves as “lobby groups” will get caught up.  As an example most banks have regular publications from their economists to clients.  Now if those publications take a position on any issue associated with the Labour Government, then they count as electoral advertising and are restricted to $60,000 a year.

If Labour announced it was going to quadruple the price of sitting a driver’s licence  in 2008, then the Automobile Association, despite having over one million members, would be unable to spend more than $60,000 protesting against this decision.

The biggest voluntary group in NZ with one million members will have the same limit as  a lobby group with 15 members.

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