Editorial: Public loses in disgraceful spending law

NZ Herald Nov 24, 2010
Three years after the outcry at financial restrictions on independent electoral advertising, the Labour Party has got its way. National has folded on an issue it fought from Opposition, agreeing to restrictions that differ only by degree with the spending limits legislated by the Labour Government. National’s amendment to the Electoral Finance Act has emerged from a select committee of Parliament with a $300,000 limit on the amount “third party” participants can spend to promote an issue to voters. “Third party” is the politicians’ term for people or groups of no affiliation who are not standing for election but are moved to spend their own money on a cause close to their heart. Throughout this long debate over their rights, most people who practise politics or study it avidly have missed the central point. It is this: people who are not avid followers of politics and public issues have their voice effectively muzzled by law that is mined with arcane, pernickity requirements. They will not recall the precise rules and may be deterred by the bother of dealing with them.
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