That’s all for now.

July 28, 2008

The Coalition for Open Government was originally formed in 1979 and played a leading role in achieving New Zealand’s Official Information Act (1982).

The Coalition re-formed in 2007, to campaign for better election finance laws.

During 2007, the Coalition monitored the legislation process, gave a detailed submission on the Electoral Finance Bill and published newsletters and email updates to mobilise public support for a better law.

With the passing of the Electoral Finance Act 2007, the Coalition is no longer active.  This site will be retained as a record of our work.  Till next time…


Press Council unanimously finds fault with the NZ Herald’s electoral finance campaign

April 17, 2008

News release 18 April 2008 – Coalition for Open Government

The Coalition for Open Government is delighted that the Press Council has upheld its complaint against the NZ Herald’s Electoral Finance Bill campaign.

The Press Council found that the Herald’s front-page editorial last year contained a “mis-statement of fact”, which the paper should have promptly corrected. Read the rest of this entry »


Coalition for Open Government welcomes revised Electoral Finance Bill

November 18, 2007

Media Release: For Immediate Release
19 November 2007

Coalition for Open Government welcomes revised Electoral Finance Bill

The Coalition for Open Government welcomes the revised the Electoral Finance Bill, saying it is greatly improved by the changes announced today.

“We are particularly pleased to see that the bill now abolishes secret trusts and tackles anonymous donations,” said Steven Price, spokesperson for the Coalition.

The Coalition also welcomes the tightening of the definition of “election advertisement”, and believes the bill now strikes a much better balance between freedom of expression and the need to protect the democratic system from the corrupting influence of big money.

The Coalition notes few people will have to undergo the administrative burden of registering, because it will only apply to those who want to spend more than $12,000 on electioneering (though the threshold for electioneering about constituency candidates is $1000). What’s more, hardly anyone will want to spend so much money that they’ll be affected by the $120,000 cap.

“The bill is not about trammelling people’s right to free speech,” said Price. “The revised bill clearly supports democracy by requiring greater transparency of donors and levelling the playing field so that groups like the Exclusive Brethren can’t use their big chequebooks to swing elections.”

The Coalition is also glad that the bill now:

* restricts overseas donations;
* further increases the penalties for almost all the electoral offences;
* no longer requires people to sign statutory declaration before engaging in electioneering; and
* allows third parties like Forest and Bird to protect the identities of their donors who aren’t trying to influence the election.

However, the Coalition calls on parties to tighten the rules for anonymous donations even further.

“The bill makes real progress in dealing with the huge sums given to political parties in secret,” said Price. “Still, we think the restrictions on anonymous donations should be tighter.”

Under the bill, a political party would still not have to tell the public the name of someone who gave it $30,000 in an election cycle.

“A simple solution would be to get rid of the new process by which anonymous donations can be funnelled through the Electoral Commission,” said Price. That would effectively ban all anonymous donations over $1000.


Select Committee Report

November 18, 2007

The select committee report on the Electoral Finance Bill has just been released.  Click here to download a copy.


Submissions online

September 17, 2007

Submissions to the Electoral Finance Bill have now closed.  You can now read submissions on Parliament’s website – click here.

The Coalition for Open Government’s submission is available for download here (PDF file).


Help end secret contributions to political parties in New Zealand

August 11, 2007

have your sayPlease spend a few minutes to make a difference to a new law tackling the influence of big money and secret money in our elections. Just click the link below to have your say to the Parliamentary committee overseeing the law. Public pressure is vital to ensure we take secret money out of our elections.

The Electoral Finance Bill is the biggest rewrite of the election laws for years – with over 150 clauses – including good parts, technical parts and disappointing parts. Some sections matter most of all and we urge you to have a say about them.

Read the rest of this entry »


Minor/major?

August 4, 2007

Among the many innovations in the Electoral Finance Bill is a move to update its reach to a more modern age. The current law was written in 1993, but much of it was ported from the 1956 Act that preceded that. Times and technology have changed, but our electoral laws haven’t – and the Government wants to use this opportunity to update. Advertising isn’t what it used to be – the methods are different, and more varied – and a lot of what a modern campaign involves just isn’t covered in the law.

So what’s the change? In short, whilst the Electoral Act regulates “advertising”, the Electoral Finance Bill would regulate “any form of words of graphics”.

Read the rest of this entry »