Thursday, October 15, 2020

A flaw in our electoral transparency regime II

Last month, we learned there was a flaw in our electoral transparency regime, with the New Zealand Public Party receiving a quarter of a million dollars in donations which will never have to be decalred. And now its got worse,as it turns out they're also explicitly soliciting donations from rich foreign anti-vaxers:

1 NEWS has discovered the party led by Jami-Lee Ross and Billy Te Kahika has a bank account that isn't covered by the electoral law.

The account belongs to a component party with donors from both New Zealand and overseas.

Ross and Te Kahika have been campaigning online and gaining traction with well-known American anti-vaccine activists.

Now there is an allegation that Advance New Zealand is taking money from the movement to help discredit New Zealand's Covid-19 response.

It is illegal for a registered party to receive a foreign donation of more than $50. But the Public Party isn't a registered party, so it can collect as much foreign money as it likes. And while there are limits on how much of that money it could pass on to Advance New Zealand (which is registered), or to its leader (who is a candidate), there are certainly no limits on spending it to promote themselves, or to run negative advertising against other parties or candidates. And that seems to be a bit of a gap - and one we should fill at the first opportunity.

As for how to do it, separating the transparency regime from registration to contest the party vote is the obvious solution. All parties registered for the party vote should have to declare everything, as at present - but so should all of their component parties, and any party running more than a small (three? five?) number of candidates. That way the real plankton parties are left alone, but unregistered parties can't be used as a source of dark money to corrupt our elections.