“Labour is cynically using its parliamentary majority to hamstring political opponents a year out from an election with the Electoral Amendment Bill undergoing its first reading today, it should be ashamed,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“There are issues with electoral law evidenced by the recent NZ First trial, but instead of proposing an amendment focussed on fixing this loophole, Labour is using the example as a trojan horse so they can hammer their opponent’s finances by changing disclosure thresholds.

“Labour will have you believe that recent Serious Fraud Office cases involving NZ First, National and Labour itself are precedent for these changes. Ironically, they’re making things worse. By reducing what can be given legally without disclosure, the same sorts of people who end up in court under the current donation laws will work even harder to hide donations. Our democracy will, if anything, become less transparent as a result of this law.

“To put Labour’s changes into perspective, if the law was in place last election and all donors giving between $5,000 and $15,000 all reduced their donations to $5,000. ACT would have lost $304,807 of funding, National $573,952. Labour and the Greens would lose $169,399 and $67,800 respectively.

“Labour hasn’t been able to provide any clear reason for the change in threshold. As ACT’s main fundraiser for almost a decade, I can tell you that nobody receives undue influence for $15,000. To run a half decent campaign, you need at least $1.5 million and $15,000 is only one per cent of that. Nobody can get undue influence over a political party for funding one per cent of a campaign.

“We should value that fact that many people give money, with no tax deduction, simply because they want a party’s people and policies to reach a wider audience and have a chance of winning power.

“Without donors, our democracy would not function, but they are being made out to be something sinister. In actual fact, donors often fear repercussions for being publicly identified for supporting a particular party.

“Labour’s changes mark an absolute nadir of policy-making. They’re knowingly limiting parties’ ability to promote their views and policies – and in effect, limiting Kiwis’ choices at the ballot box.

“It’s a sad day for democracy when the governing party uses its majority to screw the scrum. But as we’ve seen repeatedly from Labour, democracy is not something it values.”

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David Seymour