Bill English has raised another problem with the Electoral Finance Act – probably because it was rushed through so quickly.
It relates to the address one has to put on election advertisements. The requirement for third parties is that their financial agent list their home address on all their adverts. Now I have no problem with this (and in fact my home address is on the FSC billboards) as a third party can be hard to track down – we saw the Brethren being less than upfront with the addresses they listed.
But in a fit of stupidity they have also required every single candidate and party financial agent to list their home address on every advertisement. Now this is ridicolous and serves no good purpose. Parties and candidates are known accountable public figures.
In the last election the National Party adverts listed the office block the party HQ is in. They have been there for around 20 years so are hardly a fly by night outfit.
Now instead of listing the party’s registered physical address, every advert has to list the home address of the party’s financial agent or party secretary if none appointed.
Not many would be overly keen to have their home address on every single newspaper ad, pamphlet, leaflet, TV ad, radio ad and billboard up and down the country. And the sad experience of those of us in politics is people will ring or pop in without warning if your address is highly publicised.
As I said, there is absolutely no public policy reason why party advertisements should not be able to use the registered office of the party, instead of the financial agent’s home address. But the law as written doesn’t allow this. It should be changed.