Monday, January 28, 2008

The next step in campaign finance 'reform'?

New Zealand has a new law -- the Electoral Finance Act -- regulating political speech during campaign season. According to the New Zealand Herald:

Non-political "third parties" and all individuals are subject to controls for almost the entire year before an election.

Citizens must now register with the state - through the Electoral Commission - if they want to spend $12,000 or more on advertising a cause that might influence voters, even if their message does not name a party or candidate.

The "regulated period" law prevents individuals and groups spending more than $120,000.

Political parties will be allowed to spend 20 times as much as that to promote their messages and will be able to use taxpayers' money from their parliamentary budgets to communicate with voters well beyond that limit.

Political parties will retain taxpayer-funded broadcasting rights worth millions.

Blogs are exempted -- but not regular Websites. Can't see the difference? Neither can many Kiwis, but that didn't protect 21-year-old Andrew Moore, who was forced to take down his anti-Labour Party Website under threat from the Electoral Commission. The site had cost less than NZ$100 to set up, but could have drawn a NZ$10,000 fine if he didn't publish his home address -- a disclosure he wasn't prepared to make in the heated environment of a political campaign.

Muzzling personal Websites that give voice to political opinions? The U.S. hasn't gone there yet, but New Zealand offers a glimpse of just what the "reformers" have in store for us.



Blogger Andy Moore said...

Hi, thanks for your article. It is important that the rest of the World knows what draconian laws are being put in place in New Zealand.

January 28, 2008 3:50 PM  
Blogger J.D. Tuccille said...

My pleasure! Maybe a little publicity will light a fire under the feet of the powers that be. (And, not incidentally, help keep the U.S. from passing similar restrictions).

January 28, 2008 5:01 PM  

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