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Greens: Go Forward On Electoral Reform Not Back

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Greens: Go Forward On Electoral Reform Not Back

11 FEBRUARY 2009 - The Electoral Finance Act (EFA) helps keep big money out of politics and the National-led Government should retain more than just its rules on donation disclosures, the Green Party said today.

In a repeal of the EFA to be read in Parliament on Thursday, the Government plans to eliminate provisions aimed at undue political influence by groups such as the Exclusive Brethren.

"We fought for disclosure provisions in the Electoral Finance Act because they are crucial to an honest democracy and we welcome the Government's decision to retain rules that make political donations more transparent," said Green Party Co-Leader Dr Russel Norman.

"But why go backwards when we need to go forward? We should keep the current Act until a better piece of legislation is ready. The EFA is a big improvement on what we had before, when the major parties were able to use secret trusts and big anonymous donations. Loopholes also allowed the National Party and the Exclusive Brethren to thwart campaign spending caps.

"The Electoral Finance Act can be better but even now it does a lot more good than bad. We should keep it until revised legislation is ready - legislation that promotes more honest, accountable and transparent government. In the absence of new legislation a return to the 1993 Electoral Act is a backwards step. We do welcome the Government's commitment to work with all parties on a replacement and look forward to engaging constructively in that process."

Dr Norman also said the Labour's Party expected support of the repeal showed a lack of fortitude. "It's cowardly for Labour to abandon the EFA before there's a better alternative ready to go." The Green Party Co-Leader noted that there was no pressing need for change. "There is no major election scheduled. The repeal under urgency is just political grand-standing. The Government could also reinstate the Citizens Jury to provide unbiased advice on campaign funding and electoral finance reform."

The Citizens Jury, which the Government scrapped, was to comprise laypersons who would review electoral finance reform issues. Due to begin this year, the independent jury would have taken the debate away from the political parties.

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