Hell freezes over – SST says Kill the Bill

The Sunday Star-Times has today used its editorial to call on the Government to scrap this “hopeless, nasty, bungled bill”.

I have never known such a wide range of media opposition to a proposed law. No one who resides in this dimension could call the Sunday Star-Times a right-wing newspaper, as some have tried to label the NZ Herald. And the SST’s reasons are partly because Helen Clark has not done a proper clampdown on anonymous donations, as well as their incompetence in the process used. Extracts:

… Labour’s handling of the process has been so bad that it has poisoned the whole initiative. If the cause of electoral finance reform is to be saved, the Electoral Finance Bill will have to die.

The trouble is that the minor improvements in the bill do not outweigh the wider harm. The hapless Mark Burton hatched this measure in secrecy. He discussed it in dark rooms with other politicians for a long time before revealing it to the public. He and his Labour colleagues never even tried to put the case for state funding and a ban on donations, the only really plausible means of reforming election finances. Instead they cobbled together a shambolic bill that has needed changing up till the last minute of its ignominious life.

The public has, quite rightly, disliked this stealth and was, quite rightly, alarmed by some of the early and wildly anti-democratic clauses limiting real freedom of speech. This is not the way to make important constitutional changes. The voters will remain deeply hostile to these changes and nothing the politicians now say will change their minds. Labour must therefore scrap the bill and do it the hard way. Call a Royal Commission and investigate from the ground up, slowly, and allow a proper debate about all the issues not just those sparked by a hopeless, nasty, bungled bill. Then trust the people and their representatives to make a wise decision.

This is indeed the way.  A public process which allows the people to widely debate all the associated issues, rather than a “nasty” bill which is designed to get Helen Clark a 4th term at any cost.

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