New rules governing election campaign donations will ensure Hawke's Bay councilors seeking re-election this year will avoid situations which landed MP John Banks in hot water at the last general election.
Council elections will be held on Saturday, October 1, and changes have been made to the Local Electoral Bill, which was expected to be enacted in May. Hawke's Bay Regional Council reviewed the changes, including those for anonymous election donations, at its meeting yesterday presented by its electoral officer Carol Gilbertson.
"Once the legislation is enacted there will be a limit on the size of any anonymous donation, of $1500 per donation," Mrs Gilbertson's report said.
Councillor Ewan McGregor said he was not expecting to be inundated with large quantities of anonymous donations but "would quite like the experience".
"What I would like to know is if the donation is in excess, what happens to the money?"
Mrs Gilbertson said anything received over and above the $1500 limit must be given to the electoral officer and retained by the council.
Councillor Tim Gilbertson wanted to know what the definition of "anonymous" was when it came to campaign donations.
Mrs Gilbertson said an anonymous donation was one by a cash donation. A donation made by cheque, which required a name or signature, was not anonymous.
In another example, she said if a billboard promoting a councillor's campaign was supplied anonymously, it would be considered a donation and the $1500 limit would apply.
Councillors also wanted to know if the proposal by A Better Hawke's Bay to the Government, asking for the region's councils to be reorganised, would affect the timing of this year's election. Council chairman Fenton Wilson said he believed it would not delay the elections.
"I have asked that question to Local Government Minister Chris Tremain and he says there is nothing that will defer the elections," Mr Wilson said.