It started with the Labour Party changing the law to stop Bernard Darnton suing them over their 2005 pledge card, continued with their Electoral Finance Act by which they attempted to squelch free speech and hog-tie their opponents, and now after many months of shouting in the end a bill to remove that incursion into Mugabeism from our law books was introduced to parliament last night, and it looks like by this time next week it will be dead – with the exception of one clause.
And in the end, after all the months of hysterically defending the indefensible, even Labour voted for its removal, and new Labour leader Phil Goff had the grace and common sense to concede it was a mistake.
Unfortunately, reports do not record what Helen Clark’s face looked like when she was required to file into the lobbies to begin voting against the mechanism by which she hoped to achieve a permanent Premiership.
UPDATE: Since he did so much to sterling work to bring about its imminent dissolution, David Farrar deserves a word here:
A rare joint award to Labour and National for starting the repeal of the Electoral Finance Act.The real evil of the Electoral Finance Act wasn't so much in its substance (even though that was bad enough) but more so in the way it was drafted without any attempt at consultation with the public or Opposition political parties…
The anger in National (and elsewhere) over the Electoral Finance Act is palpable. The Act is detested, and represents to National the closest we have come to a constitutional coup - an attempt to so skew the playing field, to the benefit of one party only. Many in National would happily sign up to an "utu" response where the EFA is not only repealed, but is inflicted on Labour in reverse.
But wiser heads have prevailed, and National is sincerely committed to multi-party (and public) consultation over the replacement to the Electoral Finance Act.
This indicates why National’s promised repeal only gets two cheers from this quarter. In contradiction to David’s conventional view, the real evil of the Electoral Finance Act wasn't at all that it was drafted without any attempt at consultation with the public or Opposition political parties. (As long as a law protects individual rights then it’s not “consultation” but urgent introduction that’s necessary.) In fact, the real evil was that the Electoral Finance Act was a total affront to free speech, and to the standards of what purport to be democracy.
Sheesh already! The evil of the act cannot be so so simply dispelled by waving over it the magic wand of “multi-party (and public) consultation”: what it needs is the introduction of objective law to govern NZ’s elections that is clear, impartial, and that actually protects NZers’ rights to free speech and free association --which includes the right to donate however much one wishes to to whomever one so chooses.