The Electoral Finance Act has been removed from the statutes with good grace on all sides. The Labour Party has expressed regret for its enactment, National has acknowledged the gesture. Only the Greens voted against the repeal in Parliament on Tuesday night. The climate is right for all parties to begin a proper revision of the laws governing financial contributions to politics and the review should start this year. It should not wait until the next election year is practically here.
That, of course, was one of the Greens' self-satisfied justifications for not supporting the repeal. What the heck do they want? Did they want a repeat of the EFA fiasco, with the legislation rushed through Parliament in order to have it in place to create a new, extended regulated period. For as the leader writer notes (and Keeping Stock concurs), haste was a major issue last time around:
Haste was one cause of the flaws in Labour's legislation, partisan purpose was another. But its fundamental error was the attitude that politics is, or should be, the preserve of organised and registered political parties. If other groups or individuals wanted to spend money to promote a cause they were to register as a "third party", comply with authorisation and accounting rules and keep their spending within tighter restrictions than those imposed on real parties.
Political participation must not be restricted to those willing and able to organise themselves and comply with red tape. The barrier resented by those sort of requirements was evident in the unusual quietness of the election last year. There has to be room in election debate for the amateur and the sudden contributions when an anxiety arises or somebody feels something important is being neglected.
We couldn't agree more. And in this spirit of concurrence and agreement, we are right with the leader writer's closing paragraph:
Electoral law should never again be made by a Government on the hoof. National should invite all parties to sit down soon and begin to resolve a set of financial rules that would permit wide and honest participation in the country's decisions.
Indeed - even the Greens!