National Party leader Simon Bridges has joined the Greens and a chorus of other MPs in saying he would support a ban on foreign donations to political parties.

This morning, he threw his weight behind any government proposals which would curb foreign influences in New Zealand and made specific mention of overseas donations.

"The reality of the situation, as I understand it legally, is for the most part overseas donations and the like are unlawful but there are a few small areas, such as under $1500 and so on, [which] is worth getting submissions on and clearing up."

Current electoral law prohibits overseas donations of more than $1500 to political parties.


But these can be avoided by donating through New Zealand-registered corporate entities – such as companies, incorporated societies and trusts – which are allowed to donate regardless of whether they are owned or controlled by New Zealanders.

Although he thought an outright ban was a good idea, he agreed with the Prime Minister, who said it would be best to wait for the Justice Select Committee to give its recommendation.

That select committee is currently investigating this issue and last week extended the timeframe for submissions.

Bridges joins a number of other politicians who have called for a ban.

In fact, he said today, the issue had become "sort of a turf war" in terms of who was claiming ownership of the issue.

Yesterday, Foreign Minister Winston Peters told The Financial Times the Government was in the process of addressing the issue.

"In the case of the independence, neutrality and sovereignty of the New Zealand political system, there will be proposals that will be ready for the next general election to ensure those concerns are addressed."

In response to questions about Peters' comments, Justice Minister Andrew Little this morning said the Justice Select Committee was in the process of looking into the issue.

"I expect the committee will come up with recommendations that the Government would have to consider.

"I don't think Winston Peters is saying anything other than we know what is expected to happen."

Asked if Peters was trying to take credit for any of the proposals that may come from the select committee, Little said: "It's politics, we all do that."

Yesterday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also said she would be waiting to hear back from the select committee before making any policy proposal.

Bridges is not the first National MP to favour banning overseas donations to New Zealand political parties.

Nick Smith – a member of the Justice Select Committee – told the Herald last month that reforms were needed to ensure the integrity of New Zealand's electoral system.

"The existing electoral law does put limits on foreign donors, but needs strengthening.
Only Kiwi citizens and residents should be able to donate to political parties or to campaigns that seek to influence an election outcome," Smith said.

In his valedictory speech in December, Chris Finlayson also raised questions about how political parties were funded.

"I think both major parties need to work together to review the rules relating to funding.

"I have a personal view that it should be illegal for non-nationals to donate to our political parties."

The Green Party took this one step further and introduced a members' bill which would "stop unfair influence and potential corruption in politics" by banning all foreign donations to New Zealand political parties.

The party's electoral reform spokeswoman Golriz Ghahraman has approached Little to ask him to adopt the legislation as a Government Bill.