Thursday, January 03, 2008

Election funding: shifting rhetoric and thwarted plans

As an aside, its interesting to note how the rhetoric from the right against the Electoral Finance Bill has shifted. Six months ago, we were being told that there was no need to regulate third parties, as the existing requirement that advertisers state their identities would ensure that such campaigns were subject to public scrutiny. Now, we're being told that that requirement is a gross imposition, which chills free speech, particularly if it is applied online.

This is simply another example of the bad faith which has motivated the right during this debate. But its also quite revealing of the hopes they had held for this year's election. Under the old law, the web would have been effectively unregulated. It would thus have been possible for the same wealthy individuals and secretive lobby groups who tried to undermine our democracy last election to again spend millions of dollars trying to buy political power for their chosen representatives - except that this time there would have been even less chance of their being found out at an inconvenient moment. Fortunately, the Electoral Finance Act has thwarted that plan - the web is now regulated, just like any other medium. But you can understand why they're so pissed...