Further to my blog this morning complaining the Police have been unable to make a decision on the most simple electoral complaints, despite having had the Electoral Commission refer them as far back as June. Well it gets even worse than that.
One of the complaints was made not under the Electoral Finance Act but the Broadcasting Act. This is in relation to the allegedly illegal election programme on NewstalkZB, where Shane Jones and Winston Peters advocated for their parties.
Now this is a breach of s70 of the Broadcasting Act and has a possible $100,000 fine. But it may be too late to prosecute. Why? The alleged offence happened in early June 2008. That is over six months ago. And the Broadcasting Act states it is a summary offence.
And if you turn to s14 of the Summary Procedures Act 1987, you find:
Except where some other period of limitation is provided by the Act creating the offence or by any other Act, every information for an offence (other than an offence which may be dealt with summarily under section 6 of this Act) shall be laid within 6 months from the time when the matter of the information arose.
It is one thing for the Police to decide not to prosecute. But yet another to have no prosecution occur, simly because they missed the deadline.
I hope there will be multi-partisan support for removing the prosecution of electoral offences from the Police. They obviously don’t want it, and would rather concentrate on other crimes. The challenge is how to reorganise the electoral agencies to allow for the different services of advice and enforcement.