Kiri Allan announced that the disclosure level for donations to political parties will be reduced from $15,000 to $5,000. Once again we see Labour trying to push through partisan changes to electoral law without wide support.
The current level of $15,000 was the result of a bipartisan agreement in 2008 or 2009 between National and Labour. National wanted the level increased from $10,000 as it hadn’t kept pace with inflation and Labour opposed that. Labour wanted to keep a registration regime and spending limits on third parties, which National had opposed. They compromised and agreed on a bill which increased the disclosure limit and retained the third party spending limits. That was the system working – compromise and agreement.
Now Labour is reneging on that, and planning to push through a partisan law change to try and suppress donations to other parties. They are proposing a disclosure limit that will represent around 0.1% of what a major party spends in an election year. The idea that a donation to a party that represents say 0.2% of its income would buy policy influence is conspiracy theory land.
What this is really about is Labour has had its donations dried up. So they want to discourage donations to other parties.
The donation disclosure limit was set at $10,000 when MMP came in, in 1996. In 2022 dollars it would be $17,000. So the current level of $15,000 is less in real terms than in 1996.