Former Prime Minister John Key once said "anyone can drive a bus through" New Zealand's political donations laws.
Given that typically laconic summary, it's a wonder but credit to authorities that people end up facing charges at all for alleged breaches.
This week, a freshly minted Justice Minister unveiled more changes to come for political party donation rules ahead of next year's general election.
Kiri Allan announced an Electoral Amendment Bill would soon be introduced to tighten the rules for disclosure of political donations and loans, as well as to temporarily widen access for overseas voters.
The bill will require the identity of donors of more than $5000 to be made public - down from $15,000 - along with loans to candidates from unregistered lenders.
Parties would also be required to make public their financial statements, the number and total value of non-anonymous donations below $1500, and the proportion of total donations that are non-monetary.
Allan, appointed two weeks ago, said public and targeted consultation had shown New Zealanders wanted greater transparency about how candidates and parties were funded.
"Better transparency of party and candidate financing helps support public trust and confidence in our electoral system. These changes will provide the public with more of the information they want," she said.
Last year, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern highlighted donations rules as an area for potential change after the Serious Fraud Office began investigating donations made to several political parties.
Donations that have been probed by the SFO included the Labour Party, National, the Māori Party, NZ First, and to the mayoral campaigns of Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff. Charges were laid in the cases of the donations to National, Labour and the NZ First Foundation.
Allan's announced changes follow the work by previous Justice Minister, Kris Faafoi, who pledged to tighten political donations rules before the 2023 election and launch a wider review of election rules - including the length of the Parliamentary term - before the 2026 election.
Fa'afoi said at the time he wanted "to make it easier to see where the money is coming from". The changes announced this week may make it easier to see but only where sums of more than $5000 are involved.
The bill is a more constrained approach than proposed in a member's bill from Green Party justice spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman.
The Green Party wants a maximum annual limit per donor of $35,000. Ghahraman points out, for instance, that the maximum someone can donate in Canada is capped at $1675.
With Allan's announced changes, more transparency is welcome but it still feels like tinkering around the edges of a gap large enough for Key's bus.
It is past time to stop anonymous donations altogether. No one expects to know the source of every coin thrown in a collection bucket. But it is fundamentally inimical to the principles of democracy for thousands of dollars to go into political campaigns without voters knowing where they came from.
Donors don't give money to politicians without some expectation, and we should know who is giving what so that politicians' behaviour can be assessed in the light of this generosity.