25 July 2007
Electoral Finance Bill
> Electoral Finance Bill (pdf) Quick thoughts: 1. The failure to address anonymous donations by still allowing donations from trusts is just daft! It's encouraging though to hear that Winston reckons it won't survive the Select Committee. 2. The third party provisions are unduly restrictive. I've never really been concerned about third party involvement per se. I think the issue is more about their transparency rather than their involvement. Unfortunately the extremely low cap is likely to make any involvement nugatory. $60,000 doesn't go far at all... In fact, if anything, I think third party involvement helps, rather than hinders, the "contest of ideas". It's useful for a third party group to analysis the positions of the parties and to say this is the position of the various parties on, say, same-sex marriage, sustainability, early childhood education. The difficulties arise when they aren't up-front about who they are or when they misrepresent things. The answer in my view is to insist on transparency (which I understand the bill does) and prohibit any third party advertising in the last 72 hours before the election (allowing time for any problematic or inaccurate propaganda to be dealt with by the "ideas" process). That would have addressed the concerns about the Exclusive Brethren from last election that seem to be the catalyst for these changes. With these controls in place, I think a more realistic cap could be set: say $200,000 or so?