29 April, 2010
Electoral finance package introduced to Parliament
A bill to reform electoral finance laws was introduced to Parliament today by Justice Minister Simon Power.
"I want to thank the public and political parties for their input into the various consultation stages that have led to this bill," Mr Power said.
"The Electoral (Finance Reform and Advance Voting) Amendment Bill progresses reforms only where there is broad consensus, to ensure we have a system which is fair, workable, enduring, and in place before the 2011 election."
The introduction of this bill forms part of the Government's package of electoral reforms. The other parts include a bill to establish a new Electoral Commission, and a bill to provide for a referendum on the MMP voting system.
"This package marks an important step in New Zealand's constitutional evolution."
The Electoral (Finance Reform and Advance Voting) Amendment Bill will legislate for the reform package announced in February.
However, the bill also reflects several developments since the February announcement.
The proposal to clarify the relationship between the Electoral Act 1993 and Parliamentary Service legislation will now be addressed in a stand-alone bill to amend the Parliamentary Service Act 2000.
The proposal for a three-month regulated period for election advertising has also been amended.
Following consultation by the Speaker with all parliamentary parties, it was agreed that the regulated period could also be triggered where an election is called less than three months from polling day, to avoid retrospective application to prior spending.
Finally, the Government has decided to use this bill as an opportunity to make changes to advance voting.
Following the unanimous decision of the Justice and Electoral Committee in its inquiry into 2008 general election, the bill removes the requirement for advance voters to establish a ground of eligibility and complete a written declaration.
"Removing barriers for advance voting will make it easier for people to take part in the democratic process and will hopefully lead to an increase in voter turnout.
"I'm confident this bill will establish a regime that is fair and transparent to all groups and individuals participating in this vital element of New Zealand's democracy.
"Our aim is to have the bill enacted by December this year so the public and political parties can be familiar with the changes before the 2011 general election."
Once the bill passes its first reading, it will be referred to the Electoral Legislation Committee, which has been established to consider this bill and the Electoral Referendum Bill.
"I welcome the public's participation during the select committee process."
Further information about the review, including Cabinet papers, can be found here