Friday, February 13, 2009

Election funding: the repeal bill

Yesterday the government introduced its Electoral Amendment Bill to repeal the Electoral Finance Act. As advertised, the bill re-enacts the old advertising regime of the pre-EFA Electoral Act 1993 [PDF], with the EFA's donation disclosure regime. Transitional provisions preserve the EFA's rules for the 2008 election. Third parties are once-again uncontrolled, allowing National to repeat its 2005 tactics of conspiring with proxies to circumvent spending limits (hopefully this will be remedied when they implement their supposed new regime, otherwise our democracy will be significantly endangered by the conspiracy of moneyed interests). But there is one notable omission from the law: s226A, inserted by the EFA, allowing the police to issue search warrants to investigate corrupt or illegal practices. This was not part of the old law, but it seems basic to any enforcement regime, and I'm surprised that a government which claims to be committed to transparency has neglected to re-enact it. Unless they have something to hide...?