28 November, 2008
Government disbands EFA Expert Panel
Justice Minister Simon Power today announced that the Government has disestablished the Expert Panel on Electoral Administration which was established by the Labour Government two months ago.
The panel was to have reviewed the administration of the electoral system under the Electoral Finance Act and whether or not political parties should be state funded.
Its terms of reference included convening a Citizens' Forum of 70 people to consider the findings of the panel. The cost of the Expert Panel and the forums had been budgeted at $4.57 million.
The three members appointed to the panel were Associate Professor Andrew Geddis (Chair) of Otago University, Dr Jean Drage of Canterbury University/Victoria University, and Professor Stephen Levine of Victoria University.
Mr Power says he has written to the panellists advising them of the decision to disestablish the committee and thanking them for their willingness to contribute their "considerable expertise".
"The Electoral Finance Act 2007 was passed without a broad base of support across parties represented in Parliament. Similarly, the Expert Panel was established without wider political consultation. National opposed both of these measures.
"So we are disbanding the panel and will start this whole process afresh.
"The next phase in the Government's plan is to repeal the EFA as an interim measure, as promised during the election campaign.
"We want to return to the spirit of bipartisanship on this issue which till recently had shaped electoral reform in New Zealand.
"The Government has been sufficiently encouraged by statements made by the Leader of the Opposition since the election which suggest there is now a willingness to participate in a constructive approach toward the reform of electoral administration.
"Following the repeal of the EFA, we will start work on a new law that will seek as broad a range of parliamentary and public support as possible, to provide an enduring framework for the administration of elections."