Public back call to scrap election law

Public opinion has swung behind the Herald's call for the Electoral Finance Bill to be scrapped.

Hundreds of people have joined the debate on nzherald.co.nz's Your Views forum, with the vast majority agreeing the legislation is an attack on democracy.

Readers contacting the Herald newsdesk have also been almost unanimously in support of a front page editorial today which said: "democracy is not a device to keep the Labour Party in power".

The campaign has also won the support today of National leader John Key, who reiterated a pledge to scrap the law if his party leads the next Government, and New Zealand Broadcasting School lecturer Paul Norris.

Mr Norris said it was common for overseas newspapers to run editorials on their front page and he believed the Herald was seeking to awaken the public on what it considers to be a very important issue.

Among readers to contact nzherald.co.nz was John Beavin of Auckland who said: "Another bit of legislation designed to assist our Helen's government. It is high time the Labour supporters realised what a devious lot of double crossing miscreants they elected.

"Democracy must be preserved at all costs, otherwise there is no point in honouring those who died fighting in wars to preserve it."

And a "Concerned NZer" from Cambridge said: "Any restriction on political campaigning is dangerous. It may be a stretch at this stage but we all know what happened in Germany prior to WW2 - it started from small beginnings and look where that ended."

However, "Money is power" in Wellington was not convinced by the "attack on democracy" argument, saying that "like our justice system the current system is unfair to people with limited cash".

"The National Party is obviously supported by the rich so again, unfair advantage."

Of the first 1700 people to take part in a poll on nzherald.co.nz today, 81 per cent said they thought New Zealand was becoming a less free and democratic country.

Prime Minister Helen Clark this morning told Newstalk ZB: "Democracy's a device by which we choose our governments. The important thing is to have fair rules and a level playing field and what we've seen in New Zealand is the intrusion of very, and I underline very, big money into our election campaigns of the kind that wouldn't be tolerated in most other western democracies."

- NZ HERALD STAFF

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