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Goff Admits EFA Mistakes

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Phil Goff
Phil Goff

Wellington, Nov 12 NZPA - New Opposition leader Phil Goff says it was a mistake to ram through the controversial Electoral Finance Act without widespread support and Labour would like to take part in a review.

The previous Labour-led government passed the Act with the support of New Zealand First and the Greens. National, ACT, United Future and the Maori Party opposed it.

The Act widens the definition of election advertising, caps spending by third parties and requires them to register and extends the election period from three months to the whole of the year.

It spawned numerous complaints about what constituted election advertising and in a speech this year Electoral Commission head Helen Catt said it had had a "chilling effect" on democratic participation.

National has promised to repeal the Act, but keep its tighter provisions on anonymous donations.

Mr Goff today said Labour would like to contribute to a review of the Act and National should seek consensus support for changes.

He acknowledged Labour had made mistakes.

"I don't think the way that the Electoral Finance Act was passed or necessarily its specific detail was as good as it could have been," he said on Radio New Zealand.

"I think we do need to look at that again. I think we need to look at that in a way that involves all parties.

"Any matter that's constitutional or electoral we should be seeking consensus for. We didn't have that consensus."

But Mr Goff said the reasons underlying the Act were still valid.

Labour passed the Act in response to an initially clandestine $1.3 million campaign by Exclusive Brethren members in support of National at the 2005 election.

"What I would like to see is a system where democracy works but does not rely simply on the power of the dollar and that you don't have massive clandestine funding which was the real concern that lay behind the Electoral Finance Act."

National has not spelt out exactly how it will go about making changes, but could wait until the usual review of the election by Parliament's justice and electoral select committee is completed.

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