Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Dunne seeks tweaks to Electoral Bill

MP who suffered when his party was de-registered wants grace period introduced.

Peter Dunne. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Peter Dunne. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Justice Minister Judith Collins says changes that Peter Dunne wants to party registration laws could be incorporated into a Government bill tweaking electoral laws.

Ms Collins introduced the Electoral Amendment Bill yesterday which will require political parties to declare loans of more than $15,000 as well as donations, and outlaw supporters wearing rosettes and coloured ribbons on election day.

The loans provision is intended to close a loophole which could allow parties to hide donations as loans and later forgive them - delaying the need to disclose them until after the election.

She said she would suggest to Mr Dunne that he put the changes he wanted to party registration rules in as an amendment to that bill, either through the select committee process or when it returned to Parliament. However, she said she could not guarantee National would support Mr Dunne's measures, saying it would have to be discussed by caucus and Cabinet first.

Mr Dunne is also drafting a members bill to give effect to his changes as well as continuing his discussions with Ms Collins about incorporating them into the Government bill.

Mr Dunne wants the law to provide for three-yearly checks of all parties' membership numbers and to require the Electoral Commission to recognise online membership subscriptions. He also wants it to give parties which have to de-register a time limit within which to meet the registration requirements again without having to go through the entire process from scratch or suffering penalties, such as losing parliamentary funding.

The bill was prompted by the recent deregistration of United Future because it could not guarantee it had 500 members.

Ms Collins bill's new loans disclosure rules were prompted by the Conservative Party, which funded its 2012 campaign through a loan of more than $1 million from its leader, Colin Craig, who forgave much of it after the election, at which point it was disclosed as a donation.

Ms Collins said individual candidates would not have to disclose loans, partly because their spending limit of $25,700 was much lower.

Electoral Amendment Bill

* Requires political parties but not candidates to declare any loans above $1500.
* Parties will also have to give the identity and other details of anyone who lends them more than $15,000.
* Allows for full online voter enrolment using the government's new RealMe electronic identity verification system.
* Allows for greater use of EasyVote cards to streamline the voting process and reduce special votes.
* Outlaws the wearing of party rosettes on election day except for scrutineers.

Peter Dunne's amendments:

* Checks on all political parties' membership numbers every three years.
* Require the Electoral Commission to recognise online membership subscriptions.
* Give parties which have to de-register a grace period to meet the registration requirements again without having to go through the entire process from scratch or suffering penalties, such as losing parliamentary funding.

- NZ Herald

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