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Electoral Finance Bill—Interpretation of Clause 80(d)

Tuesday 11 December 2007 Hansard source (external site)

English6. Hon BILL ENGLISH (Deputy Leader—National) Link to this
to the Minister of Justice

Does she stand by her assurance that before the Electoral Finance Bill is passed she will give the House an interpretation of clause 80(d), so that members know how to comply with the law; if so, when will she be giving this interpretation?

KingHon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Justice) Link to this

I stand by my assurance.

EnglishHon Bill English Link to this

What does the Minister think was wrong with the interpretation she has already given to the House?

KingHon ANNETTE KING Link to this

The interpretation I gave was my view. Since I gave that view, others have raised a number of issues—some in a sensible manner; some in a very verbally abusive manner. But I am prepared to listen to all of them.

ChauvelCharles Chauvel Link to this

Does section 213 of the Electoral Act 1993, which deals with activity in a member’s capacity as a member of Parliament, re-enact a provision that has been in force in our law since 1956, and would the Electoral Finance Bill re-enact this provision in clause 80?

KingHon ANNETTE KING Link to this

Yes. I thank the member for his constructive contributions to the debate during the Committee stage. They were unlike some of the other contributions we have had, which have been designed more to hinder than to help.

EnglishHon Bill English Link to this

Can the Minister answer the two questions I have already put to her: what was wrong with the interpretation of clause 80(d) she originally gave the House, and when will she give another one?

KingHon ANNETTE KING Link to this

Before the bill is passed.

EnglishHon Bill English Link to this

Can she understand people’s frustrations that even today, despite the fact that she said she was wrong in her interpretation she cannot say how, and that when the bill is passed, officials, MPs, public servants, and the public will have precisely 2 working days to work out what this law means before it comes into practice?

KingHon ANNETTE KING Link to this

I understand the member’s frustration. However, I believe it is nothing more than crocodile tears. He has been a member of this House for many, many years and he has a pretty good idea of what an MP does, even if he does not spend much time in his electorate carrying out those duties.

EnglishHon Bill English Link to this

Given that the process the Government has put this bill through will give the New Zealand public, politicians, and officials 2 working days to understand what its many and vague provisions mean, will the Government support National’s amendment to put back the date of commencement of this bill to 1 April 2008 in order to give people the opportunity to understand how the law works?

KingHon ANNETTE KING Link to this

No. I believe that most people who will be working with the bill are faster learners than the member opposite.

CullenHon Dr Michael Cullen Link to this

Assuming, or given—whichever word we wish to use—that the bill is passed next Tuesday, will people be allowed to think on other days than working days, and are there actually 8 working days between that time and 1 January?

KingHon ANNETTE KING Link to this

The Minister of Finance is absolutely right, of course. That is why he is a successful Minister of Finance, unlike the person who has been asking the questions, who was an abject failure in that role.

PetersRt Hon Winston Peters Link to this

Has the Minister received any reports on the propensity in some political parties to seek to interfere with the democratic process, as best evidenced by the seething cauldron in Rakaia right now, where the headquarters of the National Party are supporting David Carter against all other good, competent, and able candidates?

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

The last bit is not in order.

KingHon ANNETTE KING Link to this

I am sorry I cannot comment on the example because I have not seen it, but I would not be at all surprised by it.

EnglishHon Bill English Link to this

Can the Minister confirm that as of today on one provision that applies to MPs the Minister of Justice does not know how the law is going to be applied, so how can she rely on the rest of the community understanding the other dozens of complex provisions in time to comply with the law by 1 January?

KingHon ANNETTE KING Link to this

I will not confirm that. I believe that the member is quite incorrect, but then, he has become a peddler of malicious fabrications. He is also the person who claimed last week that debate on the bill had finished. That is what he said last week, and it did remind me of John Key when he said that the war in Iraq was over.

PetersRt Hon Winston Peters Link to this

Can the Minister confirm that the intent behind the legislation and its interpretation is to ensure that people can arrive at free and fair democratic decisions without the duress or coercion of privilege and money and a small clique at the top, which is what is happening right now in the Rakaia electorate? Ask Mr Connell, he knows what I am talking about. Look at the choice they are going to have: David Carter, of all people.

KingHon ANNETTE KING Link to this

In the number of spurious questions that we have received from the National Party they have lost the reason why this bill was introduced, but, certainly, members who are supporting it have not lost why it is being introduced, and neither have the public. They know what the National Party got up to in 2005, and they know it attempted to buy the election. It will not be buying the next one.

PetersRt Hon Winston Peters Link to this

Has the Minister heard of a recent example where there were five nominees for a democratic position in New Zealand, but the party hierarchy came in and heavied the other four out of standing, and is that the kind of—

SmithHon Dr Nick Smith Link to this

It’s not true!

PetersRt Hon Winston Peters Link to this

It is true, all right. I will table the documents to prove it is true. Is that the kind of thing we want to be happening at the local or national level in New Zealand politics?

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

The Minister is responsible for answering questions within her ministerial responsibility. As long as there is no reference to any particular instance and if it is a reference generally to the law in her response, then that is fine.

KingHon ANNETTE KING Link to this

I think that most members of the House, certainly those on this side of the House and in support parties, support a democratic, open process where everybody gets a fair go. I think the member is giving an example of some party or other that does not give its members a fair go.

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