Spending caps needed to protect democracy - RePress

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Wednesday, February 17

Spending caps needed to protect democracy


The Government reforms for electoral finance need to include spending caps for groups campaigning in elections, said the Green Party today.

“It is vital that New Zealand’s democracy cannot be bought by big business. An election should be a battle of ideas, not a battle of who has the most money,” said Russel Norman, Green Party Co-Leader today.

The National Government today announced its proposals for a new electoral finance regime. It proposes that there will be no spending caps for parallel campaigners.

“If there are no spending caps for third parties there will be no level playing field for our democracy.
“If they don’t limit how much money can be spent in campaigns, New Zealand runs the danger of ending up like the US where the elections are awash with money, and lobby groups can buy influence."

Dr Norman referred to the 1986 Royal Commission report that noted:

“It is illogical to limit spending by parties if other interests are not also controlled. Supporters or opponents of a party or candidate should not be able to promote their views without restriction merely by forming campaign organisations ‘unaffiliated’ to any party ... Nor should powerful or wealthy interest groups be able to spend without restriction during an election campaign while [the parties] are restricted.”

Dr Norman argues that, “New Zealand deserves a fair and honest electoral system. The Government needs to do the right thing and make sure we get one.”

In the 2005 election, the Exclusive Brethren ran a $1 million dollar campaign against the Green Party.

“One of our key concerns is that National's proposals will not stop political parties secretly giving money to third parties to run campaigns,” said Dr Norman.

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