There has been considerable controversy over the electoral finance act and rightly so. The New Zealand Law Society, and Human Rights Commission raised serious concerns over it, but the labour government nonetheless bulldozed it through.
New laws came into effect on 1st January this year. The elections website details these and what you now legally are and are not allowed to say.
Essentially, what it means is that everything we see, hear, and read during an election year will now be tightly controlled by the state.
The EFA stifles our freedom of speech.
This was eloquently demonstrated last Sunday with a silent march down Queen Street protesting the loss of free speech brought about by the act. (Theoretically the protest would have been illegal, as the marchers did not have their full names and addresses posted on their placards)
Aunty Helen’s response to this was that “that’s the problem with silent marches, nobody is around to hear them“. Ooops, point taken prime minister, you just (inadvertently) agreed with them.
In another ironic twist, instead of the labour government acting as a role model, and following their latest dumb-butted legislation, they appear to be the first to violate it by distributing pro-labour pamphlets. However, Annette King, assures us that the pamphlets were perfectly legal, because they were produced before the act came into effect.
Er, going by that logic, they could have preemptively produced excessive election propaganda for the next 10 years.
Ultimately the electoral finance act is a dangerous farce. Like so much other legislation introduced recently, it does nothing to address the actual issue, but does give the government more control over what we can and cannot do. The act needs to be repealed.
Only a vote for a change of government will accomplish that.