Thursday, November 15, 2007

Election funding: the HRC changes its mind

Opponents of the Electoral Finance Bill have made a lot of noise about the Human Rights Commission's submission [PDF] on the bill, which called the bill "a dramatic assault" on freedom of expression and called for it to be radically changed. But according to a story in yesterday's Independent (offline), it seems the HRC has changed its mind:

The Human Rights Commission has altered its view after the Justice and Electoral select committee's handling of the controversial Electoral Finance Bill, according to Green Party co- leader Russel Norman.


Norman said he understood the commission has written again to the committee. In the second letter the commission says it has been impressed that the select committee has gone a long way towards alleviating its concerns in its redrafting of the legislation, Norman said.

This prospect was always apparent, given that the HRC's conclusion was based on the definition of electoral advertising, the high regulatory burden on (small) third parties, and the bill's discrimination against children and young people. But these flaws were widely pointed out, even by the bills' supporters, and so were highly likely to be changed. And now that they have been, the EFB's opponents will have to come clean about the fact that they're not really defending democracy or freedom of expression, but rather the "right" of the rich to try and buy themselves power.