Election funding laws to be overhauled, Clark says

Officials are working towards legislation overhauling election funding rules, Prime Minister Helen Clark said today.

Miss Clark told journalists before an all day caucus meeting she was confident the 2008 election would be fought under different laws than those in place now.

"We are looking to have the electoral campaign funding system cleaned up and that will involve legislation," Miss Clark said.

National has accused Labour of corruption over its use of parliamentary funding for Labour's 2005 election pledge card, while Labour is angry at National's access to large anonymous donors and the campaign run by the Exclusive Brethren religious sect against Labour and the Greens.

Miss Clark did not indicate when law reform would emerge.

"There is a lot work being done on it and the system always needs a reasonable lead time before a general election, but there's plenty of time to get that done."

Miss Clark said the use of trusts to funnel anonymous donations "would not be possible under what we have in mind".

Labour did receive some small anonymous donations but would be happy for that to be stopped, she said.

National had not broken any laws but Miss Clark believed the law was inadequate.

"The law is now clearly covering up very, very large donations which are made in private and we don't think that is appropriate in a transparent political system."

The National Party has called for a commission of inquiry into the 2005 election, but Labour has been lukewarm about the idea.

- NZPA

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