Experts start the flaying of the Electoral Finance Bill

The first day of oral submissions was yesterday.  Professor Andrew Geddis, author of a textbook on electoral law, submitted.  Now just so no one accuses Geddis of being a nasty filthy right winger like me, he has a socialist background and is all for public funding of parties and clamping down on private money.  He was no doubt expecting to be a big supporter of the Government’s bill based on their rhetoric of the last year.

NZPA reports Geddis blasted the EFB as breaching the Bill of Rights Act and being a piecemeal reaction to problems:

The question of how third party spending has been defined under the Act, the width of that and the low limits that have been put on it, in my opinion, breach the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.

The limits are so tight they don’t allow for real meaningful involvement, not just in election process, but legislative and social policy making process during that year.

He was especially concerned about a cause restricting the ability of youth to participate in political debate

Prof Geddis said the way the bill was written any advertisements relating to issues would come under its restrictions. That meant organisations could accidentally send out messages that would be considered electioneering and stop them expressing views shared by any political party.

Had the controversial anti-smacking law change been done in an election year debate may have been stifled.

Prof Geddis was also concerned the bill set high standards of disclosure for everyone but politicians and candidates and he said they should be included or the requirements dropped.

He said it was absurd that people had to sign a declaration before speaking out even if all they wanted to do was hold up a placard.

 Also the NZ Herald reports on Dr Claire Robinson’s submission:

Dr Claire Robinson said that under the proposed law, every political party logo published in election year would require the authorising signature of the party’s financial agent.

The bill was unworkable and unenforceable and did not reflect “the nature of political communication and electioneering in the modern MMP election campaign”.

The key word I am hearing from everyone is unworkable.  Not “needing minor clarification”.  This is why it must be rejected so a workable set of reforms (and reform is needed) can be developed.

Remember you have until the end of today to submit.

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