Thursday, October 18, 2007

Election funding: shaky?

The Dominion-Post breathlessly reports that support for the government's Electoral Finance Bill is looking "shaky" in the wake of yesterday's op-ed piece by Peter Dunne. Hardly. If you actually read Dunne's article, it's quite clear that he doesn't oppose the bill, and in fact fully supports its aim of removing the rich's undue influence from our electoral system. Instead, what he's arguing about is exactly how the bill will be amended - and there his views are entirely uncontentious. The committee and the Minister have already dropped some very strong hints that the definition of electoral advertising will be amended so as not to cover advertisements which merely take a position on an issue associated with a party and to make it clear that only material which seeks to influence the vote will be covered. The committee has also made it clear that it will look at registration thresholds and spending limits with an open mind. The one area where Dunne disagrees with the government is on greater transparency and disclosure - and on that, there is a majority in Parliament and on the committee to force the government to swallow that dead rat regardless. Presuming, of course, that National lives up to its rhetoric, and acts constructively for once, rather than continuing to act in bad faith.