Political donations, overseas voting rules to change ahead of election

By RNZ

Political party donations and overseas voting rules will change ahead of next year’s general election, Justice Minister Kiri Allan has announced.

In a statement, Allan said an election amendment bill would soon be introduced to tighten disclosure rules for political donations and loans, and temporarily expand access to foreign voters.

The bill would require the identity of donors of more than $5,000 to be made public – up from $15,000 previously – as well as candidate loans from unregistered lenders.

Parties would also be required to make public their financial statements, the number and total value of non-anonymous donations under $1,500, and the proportion of total non-monetary donations.

Allan, who took office two weeks ago, said targeted public consultations showed New Zealanders wanted greater transparency about how candidates and parties were funded.

“Better transparency of party and candidate funding helps build public confidence in our electoral system. These changes will provide the public with more information they want,” she said.

This is a trial for two men accused of donation fraud at the New Zealand First Foundation which is continuing in the Auckland High Court.

Indeed, donations to political parties were a hot topic in the 2020 election, with the Serious Fraud Office also looking at donations to Labour, National and Maori. The Labor and National cases are set to be heard together in a 10-week trial next month.

Photo/RNZ

The amendment would also change the rules for next year’s election to extend voting rights to New Zealand citizens and permanent residents living overseas, due to travel constraints during the Covid-19 pandemic. 19.

Citizens would have to have visited in the past six years – instead of three – while eligibility for permanent residents would be extended from one year to four.

However, this change would only be specific to the 2023 general election.

“There have been unique challenges faced by New Zealand citizens and permanent residents who have been unable to return home for the past two years, including Covid-19 travel restrictions and security requirements. mandatory isolation,” Allan said.

“While many requirements have been lifted, overseas voters still face significant financial, travel, health and logistical hurdles to returning home, including the risk of further Covid-19 restrictions.”

She said permanent changes to out-of-country voting eligibility would be considered by the Independent Election Law Review which would report by the end of next year.

The bill offers a more constrained, Labour-led approach to similar changes proposed in a bill by an MP from Green Party justice spokesman Golriz Ghahraman.

Taken from last month’s cookie jar, the MP’s bill would also have allowed Maori voters to switch lists at any time, lower the voting age to 16, lift the voting ban prisoners and implement the recommendations of the 2012 MMP review.

– RNZ