Wellington Scoop

Parliament starts to change the rules for local elections

News from NZ Government
A bill that will strengthen the Local Electoral Act, including the rules around donations, has passed its first reading in Parliament.

The Bill increases flexibility for city and district councils to set ward boundaries in a way that better reflect communities and geographic features. It also proposes improvements to the information provided by candidates for local authority positions.

Local Government Minister David Carter says the Local Electoral Amendment Bill No 2 will provide greater efficiency and transparency around the conduct of local elections.

“The Bill will bring the Local Electoral Act closer into line with the Electoral Act which governs parliamentary elections and, in doing so help build trust in the local electoral system.”

Mr Carter says the Bill will increase accountability in local elections through new or enhanced provisions for the receipt, disclosure, reporting and recording of donations, especially anonymous donations.

“The key changes limit the size of anonymous donations a candidate can keep to $1500, revise the definition of “anonymous”, increase disclosure, reporting and recording obligations and introduce penalties for non-compliance.

“In short, this Bill will allow for more effective democratic representation,” Mr Carter says.

News from Parliament Today
Annette King said Labour would be supporting the bill, but it should be called the John Banks Bill as it was about straightening up the behaviour of the ACT MP and his treatment of donations from Kim Dotcom and SkyCity that he declared had been received anonymously after he had solicited the donations.

The bill was sent to the Justice and Electoral Committee with a report back date of March 11 2013 on a voice vote.