In less than a week The Press has devoted a second editorial to the draconian Electoral Finance Bill. Quotes:
Prime Minister Helen Clark is as good as admitting that her Government’s Electoral Finance Bill is in trouble – and it deserves to be. This legislation is flawed.
The curbs on third-party advertising are draconian and it has failed to crack down on anonymous political donations. As Clark struggled this week to defend the bill, her party’s agenda became clear, and it is the politics of envy.
Clark’s most revealing comment came as she pushed her stock line that the price of a crackdown on anonymous donors must be the state funding of parties. “The Labour Party isn’t led by me with a $50 million bank account,” she said. National leader John Key was the direct target of this jibe, but it was miscalculated. Outside Labour circles, most New Zealanders do not hold wealth and success in jealous disdain.
The Government is also rattled by the strong opposition to its electoral finance legislation, but it has only itself to blame. Clark now concedes that the bill cast too tight a net around third-party advertising, saying that this will be remedied by a select committee. This raises the question of why Labour introduced defective legislation in the first place.
I can answer that one. Because they don’t see it as defective. They are just trying to placate critics.