Growing confusion over Electoral Finance Bill

The Herald reports Steven Price from the Coalition for Open Government saying that despite the regulated period being all of 2008, an advertisement might start off the year legal, yet end up illegal at some unspecified time closer to the election.

This just goes to show what a mess things will be.  The true impact of the Bill will not be how many people get prosecuted, but how many people don’t speak out because they don’t know if doing so will be legal or not.

As Bill English says:

Mr English said under the current law there was a “bright line” at three months before the election and there was nothing in the bill to steer the Electoral Commission towards having a different rule on January 7 than a week before the election.

The bright line gives certainity.  Now advertisers have to face that their advertisements may become illegal on some unspecified date.  Good law is meant to have as little uncertainty as possible.

And this is not the only area of confusion.  The Electoral Commission still has no definition of how the exemption for MPs in their role as MPs is meant to work.  Instead they will have to rely on whatever partisan interpretation Annette King invents during her third reading speech today.  And no one really knows how a Court will interpret this area.

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