Shock horror – no law broken

Former Labour Party General Secretary Mike Smith blogs:

Donations over $30,000 from the same source must be declared to the Electoral Commission within 10 working days. National overstepped the mark in declaring a total donation of $86,005 from Gallagher Industries outside the limit. I can sympathise as I missed a connection once when I was Labour’s Secretary. These days  the Electoral Commission doesn’t get involved – the penalty is a fine of up to $40,000 on summary conviction.

That’s a very serious accusation. As Mike Smith says, a late return can result in a $40,000 fine. So let’s see if National were late.

The Electoral Commission says that National received $66,705 on 20 December 2001 from the Gallagher Group Ltd. This was on top of an earlier $19,300 so exceeded the $30,000 threshold for reporting within 10 working days.

It was declared on 10 January 2012, 21 days later.

But the Electoral Act refers to working days, as quoted by Mike Smith. S210C(6) says:

A return must be filed under subsection (1) or (2) within 10 working days of the donation being received by the party secretary

Now what is a working day? Well the Electoral Act specifies that in S3:

working day means any day of the week other than—

  • (a) Saturday, Sunday, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Anzac Day, Labour Day, the Sovereign’s birthday, and Waitangi Day; and

  • (b) a day in the period commencing with 25 December in any year and ending with 15 January in the following year

The 20th of December was a Tuesday. Friday 23rd December was the third working day and Mon Jan 16th the 4th working day. Tuesday 24 January 2012 is in fact the 10th working day after the 20th of December 2011.

So National made the deadline with a fortnight to spare.

Mike may wish to amend his post.

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