MPs, take note
It is extremely rare when any newspaper carries an editorial on its front page. This morning John Roughan from the NZ Herald has done so, on the Electoral Finance Bill. This will bring the Electoral Finance Bill out of the beltway...
When is the Government going to get this message: democracy is not a device to keep the Labour Party in power...Labour seems determined to use the time it has left to skew electoral laws in its favour. It has introduced this month a second electoral outrage - a bill to extend the law legalising the use of public money for political purposes that were ruled improper by the Auditor General after the last election.
The Clark Government's refusal to bow to public opinion on this subject beggars belief.
The Listener also joins in with its second editorial on the bill.
Proposed rules for election-year spending are blatantly unfair. The government’s plans for legislation covering election spending recall that infamous night when MPs set up a superannuation scheme for themselves. This week the government introduced to Parliament a measure called the Appropriation (Continuation of Interim Meaning of Funding for Parliamentary Purposes) Bill, which it intends to rush through before Christmas. If the title was not deliberately chosen to make the bill seem tedious, then it is the government’s good fortune that it certainly has that effect.
It might as well be called the “One Law for MPs Bill”. When combined with the Electoral Finance Bill, which is being considered by a select committee, it makes the rules on advertising in an election period markedly different for MPs than for all other New Zealanders.
The Electoral Finance Bill contains a provision that means it does not apply to MPs. Instead, they will be covered by the “One Law for MPs Bill”. This allows them to campaign next year, right up to the day before the election, using the generous taxpayer-funded allowances given to each party represented in Parliament. What is more, this spending will not be counted as part of each MP’s individual spending cap, nor towards a party’s spending cap.
The public deserve better. Not only because the public are paying for it, but because it is unfair for incumbent MPs to have a legalised advantage and because, in election year, there should be a level of robust participation that the Electoral Finance Bill will inhibit.
The bill’s provisions are a shame and a shambles and New Zealand’s democracy will be poorer if they are passed.