Thursday, November 22, 2007

Election Bill "complex" and "confusing"

The organisation that is supposedly the "guardian of our democracy"and the one that the new Bill says is supposed to register everybody who wishes to engage in political debate and to administer the complex donations regime set up under the Bill, says it is "almost impossible to interpret parts of the new Electoral Finance Bill."

Electoral Commission chief executive Helena Catt said "it was crucial her organisation understood the law," and they can't.

"We're the organisation people will want to lay complaints with, we are the ones tasked with the duty to report to police if we think the components of the law are breached," she said. "We also the ones that are expected to provide guidance on what the bill means along with the Chief Electoral Office." Dr Catt described the confusion as serious...
She's not the only one who can't understand the damn thing. Law Society head John Marshall "also said the complexity of the law was one of its major flaws."
The Law Society President John Marshall said the general public would struggle to understand it. Mr Marshall said the law society was concerned with the speed in which the law was being rushed through. "In our experience, hasty legislation is usually ill-considered and contains defects."He said the Law Society still believed the bill should be scrapped and begun anew, or, at the very least, returned to the select committee for public submissions on the revisions."Our electoral law exists for the benefit of the people of New Zealand and they have the right to be heard on this substantially amended bill."
Law Society president John Marshall QC says the bill will still limit freedom of speech, and should be scrapped or referred back to the committee.

It's not just complex. It's not just that we're being railroaded. It's that our democracy is dying with just a whimper, and our right to speak out with it, even as warnings from the supposed guardians of our democracy are left unheard.

As Winston Churchill said, democracy is the worst political system possible, apart from all the others. We're now heading down the road of "all the others." And quickly.

UPDATE 1: Electoral Commission CEO Helena Catt talks to Catherine Ryan this morning about her concerns. Audio here (nineteen minutes).

UPDATE 2: A protestor (right) carried a placard yesterday asking the Greens "what the fuck are you doing" supporting this corrupt attack on democracy and free speech. Jeanette Fitzsimons stepped up to answer the question [video]. Stephen Franks summarises her position: "Freedom of speech and political association and action is subordinate to the class war." As I've said here before, don't discount the effects of bullshit philosophy to give dishonest politicians a sense of self-righteousness and a tolerance for "acceptable corruption."

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