Electoral Finance Act has "chilling effect" on democratic participation in political activity
Well, I finally got the notes of a speech given by Electoral Commission chief Helena Catt at yesterday's $900 per person Nexis Lexus electoral finance law forum . Catt said the Electoral Finance Act has a "chilling effect" on the extent and type of participation in political and campaign activity - and it hasn't helped that "the meanings of significant sections of the legislation are obscure".
Catt said that a lot of early complaints of illegal activity originated from political factions within the blogosphere, and related to interpretation of the election advertising exemption for expression of personal political views online.
She also appeared frustrated that the Commission can't make timely decisions on this shonky law.
We have been unable to be as fast or definitive in our actions or guidance as would be desirable. We are also (and have been), rightly, open to challenge. The commission is not confident that it will be able to reach informed positions on the interpretation of some provisions within the election period,and notes that the situation is exacerbated by the legal reality that it cannot finally determine questions of whether, for instance, an item is an election advertisement.A lack of broad political consensus through the passage of the bill and since has resulted in difficult law delivered into a litigious environment, Catt said. All this means that the Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission has acknowledged that the Commission cannot satisfactorily implement the law it is entrusted with implementing. It cannot promise consistent, timely and accurate application of the law , nor can it resolve basic interpretive questions - like what is the meaning of an election advertisement - because the Electoral Finance Act is such bad law.
And the Emissions Trading Scheme law looks like it will be worse. Just ask any Maori hapu or iwi who are aware of such issues.
More on that later.