INDEPENDENT NEWS

Electoral Finance Bill concerns taken on board

Published: Tue 4 Dec 2007 03:08 PM
Select Committee & Government take Electoral Finance Bill concerns on board
The Select Committee and the Government have listened to concerns about the Electoral Finance Bill and have made a number of changes, Justice Minister Annette King said when tabling a Supplementary Order Paper to the Bill today.
"The Bill, when it was introduced, had shortcomings, but we have listened to all the recommendations we have heard. I believe that both the Government and the Select Committee have improved on the Bill considerably.
"We are making a number of clarifications and amendments, the most significant including:
• Narrowing the definition of 'publish', particularly by removing the part of the definition that would have encompassed advertisements that were brought 'to the notice of the public in any other manner.'
• Allowing the Electoral Commission and the Chief Electoral Office to decide that an alleged breach of the legislation is so inconsequential that there is no public interest in reporting it to the Police.
• Shortening the period prior to an election during which third parties cannot register with the Electoral Commission. This was a recommendation made by the Human Rights Commission and Electoral Commission.
• New clauses that create greater transparency around the disclosure of the contributors to 'secret trusts'.
• Clarifying that the requirement to place a name and address on an advertisement relates only to promoters, and not the general public.
"All these amendments are aimed at clarifying the intention of the Bill, which does not set out to prevent free speech as misinformation has suggested, but rather, it is intended to fetter the undue influence of people who can afford to buy elections.
"There is still comment from some political commentators and parties who steadfastly ignore the worthwhile changes the Select Committee and the Government have made but I am sure that the public will see through their objections for exactly what they are.
"The Government is willing to listen to further sensible amendments during the committee of the whole stage."
ENDS

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