During the debate over the Electoral Finance Bill John Key’s made a lot of noise about National’s willingness to clamp down on anonymous donations and the need to regulate third party expenditure. This makes a lot of sense from his perspective – inoculate the real issues (which National is weak on) and beat up the issues that are going to get fixed anyway (like the overly wide definition of election advertising).
But having now promised to repeal the Electoral Finance Bill if National wins the next election, Key’s supposed commitment to cleaning up the electoral system is starting to unravel. Check out this article by Tracy Watkins in this morning’s Dom Post:
[The EFB] was also criticised at its introduction for failing to tackle anonymous donations and secret trusts, which were a main source of National Party funding at the last election, but which Labour was reluctant to forgo without a corresponding increase in state funding.
But pressure from minor party allies, including the Greens, is understood to have forced the Government’s hand on the issue.
Mr Key has previously suggested National would be open to a crackdown on anonymous donations and trusts, and acknowledged the need to put limits on groups like the Exclusive Brethren, who sought to spend $1 million at the last election backing National.
Green Party co-leader Russel Norman questioned yesterday Mr Key’s commitment to either, now the party was planning to repeal the legislation.
“What’s he so frightened of in revealing the true source of all his money? What’s so scary about revealing where all the National Party’s money comes from?”
Mr Key could not be contacted yesterday. His deputy Bill English could also not be contacted.
It’ll be interesting to see what comes out of the select committee, and equally interesting to see how National responds. If the Government is smart about what they bring before the house they’ll have an excellent opportunity to puncture National’s fear campaign and expose the real motivations behind their opposition. National’s response will be telling.