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Thursday, September 18

Law Society: Election laws breach free speech

"A paper from the New Zealand Law Society describes Labour's Electoral Finance as an 'unwarranted intrusion on the right to freedom of political expression'," says National Party Deputy Leader Bill English.

"I can not imagine how the criticism from the Law Society could possibly be stronger. Labour's self-serving Act is described as 'fundamentally flawed and misconceived, and ought to be repealed'."

Mr English says National supports the new disclosures regime on anonymous donations and has made that clear on a number of occasions, but the new criticism from the Law Society is a "damning indictment on the process and those who supported this anti-democratic law".

The Law Society paper includes comments such as:

• The third party regime, related eligibility and regulated period provisions of the Act together constitute a clear prima facie breach of the right to freedom of expression.

• The right to political free speech is fundamental to the operation of a representative democracy and intrusions upon that right must be supported by strong and compelling reasons. However, the Government proffered no evidence to substantiate the need for the legislation at any point during the Act's passage through its legislative stages.

• The Act is fundamentally flawed and misconceived, and ought to be repealed.

Mr English says one of the members of the Law Society Committee which commented on the Electoral Finance Act was Deputy Solicitor General Cheryl Gwyn.

"She's clearly at odds with the previous advice supplied by Crown Law to the Government which cleared the way for the draconian EFA."

Mr English welcomes the Law Society's support for the EFA to be repealed.

To read the Law Society report visit:
http://matrix.nzls.org.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/4416/Electoral_Finance_Act.pdf

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