Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Lobby groups will struggle to keep people informed if EFB goes through

If the Electoral Finance Bill is passed unaltered, lobby groups and churches may not be able to inform their supporters of what parties' policies are in public in an electin year in case that is deemed to be persuading people to vote for a certain party. Not only can they not provide a summary of party policies, they cant even promote their own policies if it is seen to hold a position for or against any political party.

For example, if a lobby group is well known for its anti smacking position or holds a strong position on genetic engineering it may not be able to even keep its members informed by e-mail because that comes under the definition of publishing. The Catholic Church prayed in Mass against civil unions before the passage of the bill, warning their paishoners not to vote Labour. If something similar happened next year, and they put a notice in the newsletter, that would be an election advertisement and the church would break the law.

And if we protest with placards, we will have to write our name and address on the placards. Minister Annette King's private secretary incorrectly told me today that this was current law. King's response to these kind of scenarios is that police won`t prosecute, so it doesnt matter what the law is, because as she said in Parliament today the law of common sense applies when the law is nonsensical.

In other words, if you are in the process of making law, and it is nonsensical, and the MInister admits it, it is a good idea to change it; and if it is not changed we can break the law - and we won`t be caught. So I can smack my kids now because the intention of Parliament is that common sense vetos nonsensical law. So what's the point of law again? Not to be nonsensical, anyway.

Labour doesn't appear to understand that. Annette King is headed for the backbenches.




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