Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Is a party logo an election advertisment?

Such a big issue. Under the Electoral Finance Act, is a political party logo an election advertisement. That is a question the Electoral Commission looked at at its meeting in May and June and will further consider at its next meeting on 27 July. Will it make a decision this time, or will it base its decision on the law of common sense?

The Electoral Finance Act defines an election advertisement as any form of words or graphics, or both, that can reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to vote, or not to vote, for a party/ies or candidate/s.

So I rang Peter at the Commission to ask what was going on. He said he didn`t really know. He said he wasn`t the Electoral Commission and wouldn't tell me if the Law Commission had provided advice. It's a very sensitive issue. Crown Law has been offering advice on this but the Commission appears to be wanting to base its decision on any implications, rather than the law itself and would rather make a decision on this once the election is over to avoid such implications.

So, Dr Claire Robinson of Massey University has offered her advice in the the New Zealand Herald today
This is in fact a very simple issue. Without question, logos are election advertisements in terms of the definition contained in the Electoral Finance Act.
And half the Commission agree- the other half apparently won't agree because of the implications.As the Herald notes, once it is acknowledged that party logos are election advertisements, all stationery, cars, electorate offices, pens, backdrops at party conferences, and banners will need an authorising name and address.

Its not big money that is causing the headaches at the Electoral Commision, its a simple, silly unnecessary authorising statement that Labour wrote into this law.




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