Hasty legislation will not help restrictions on foreign donations to N.Z. political parties

The Government has announced a plan to ban foreign donations exceeding $50 to New Zealand political parties.

This follows intense lobbying by the Green Party to enact changes. It follows revelations that a Chinese racing billionaire made a $150,000 donation to National that could not be pinned to electoral laws as it was made through a New Zealand company.

Whilst I welcome the ban, the Government is being hypocritical in trying to ram the legislation through in a single day. It smacks of the indecent haste that the National-led Government of Prime Minister John Key used to employ to slip legislation that they knew would be contentious through without being subject to the appropriate scrutiny at the Select Committee stage. Such indecent haste was used on a number of occasions, such as:

  • The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011
  • The Crown Minerals (Crown Land and Permitting)Act 2013

And 51 other such recorded instances between November 2008 and September 2017, 31 one of which occurred in the first term.

How is it possible to have the necessary scrutiny that such legislation needs if it is passed in a day? I find myself in one of those rare moments agreeing with National that the haste is unnecessary.

So, let us see this legislation through. Ultimately it does need to pass, but it should be subject to a few weeks of public submissions and then the appropriate Select Committee processes handling those submissions. Then it should go back to Parliament for the remainder of its journey through the House. In order to make this clear, I have written the following e-mail to the Speaker of the House:

Kia Ora Mr Speaker

I wish to express my concern as a New Zealand citizen at the speed with which the Minister of Justice intends to pass the legislative changes to restrict foreign donations.

Ultimately the law does need to pass. Political parties on both sides of the House have acknowledged this. But the indecent and reckless speed with which the Minister intends to do this is not only not going result in workable legislation, but also Parliament’s ability to abide by it shall be compromised.

As the Speaker of the House this concerns your office and its ability to do its job.

For this legislation to work it needs to go before a Select Committee, even if it only has seven days for submissions and a couple of days having submissions heard.

I hope that you are able to communicate this to the Minister of Justice in your capacity as the Speaker before the House attempts to deal with this legislation in a more advanced stage.

Thank you.

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