Ralston on Electoral Finance Bill

Bill Ralston starts his column talking abot the police raids, but makes some strong points on the Electoral Finance Bill:

Aside from the weird anti-terrorism offensive, her Government is beginning to show some shockingly authoritarian traits. The Electoral Finance Bill is the kind of legislation Dr Goebbels would have endorsed. Under that bill only the Government (and maybe a political party or two) can issue propaganda.

As currently written, the bill would stop pressure groups and people from publicly taking political stands during an election year. Unless, of course, that pressure group is a trade union. The Council of Trade unions has grandly announced its intentions to campaign heavily for Labour-aligned policies next year and the CTU is confident the Electoral Finance Bill doesn’t apply.

A pile of potentially terrorist-aligned groups oppose the Government’s great leap forward for democracy. Notorious commie stirrers such as the Law Society want the bill scrapped, saying it is “a backward step and irredeemable”, adding that ordinary citizens could unwittingly break the law simply by taking part in debates on election issues. Well, the Law Society better stand by for a dawn raid from a load of men in black – and I don’t mean the All Blacks.

The Human Rights Commission, Education Institute and Post Primary Teachers Association have also attacked the bill as flawed and an assault on people’s rights. I expect their radical leaders to be whipped off to Guantanamo Bay at any moment.

Basically, the bill muzzles anyone from taking a stand during an election year on any political issue.

The pure evil genius in the Government’s Electoral Finance Bill is that while it restricts the amount interest groups could spend advertising their views on an issue, the Government could spend anything it likes pushing its own views. John Key made this point earlier in the week arguing that the Government could next year spend a fortune advertising how good, for example, its health policies were year but medical pressure groups could not reply that Labour’s policies had failed, because the bill would stop them from spending more than $60,000 on a campaign during an election year.

Ralston then goes on to say:

Still, the bill would stop the Exclusive Brethren bankrolling political parties, which is using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut. A little like unleashing armed police on a bunch of crackpots.

Actually here Ralston is wrong.  Clark personally deleted the provisions banning anonymous donations because she heeds them for Labour.

George W Bush and the Department of Homeland Security will be proud of Helen Clark this week.

Actually this is an interesting point.  Imagine the Bush Administration introduced the equivalent of the Electoral Finance Bill?  Every left wing group in the world would be condemning them as fascist dictators who are intent on suppressing dissent.

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