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Call for political donation reform & consider fully funding elections to avoid corruption

The chair of the National Maori Authority has told the Ministry of Justice that it is time to overhaul donations to political parties and to ensure that the New Zealand electoral system withstands the scrutiny of voters by ensuring they are protected from vested interests. In a broad ranging submission to the Ministry of Justice who are finalizing recommendations on reforms to donations, Tukaki has said that it is important that reform goes on to include asking whether or not all donations should be done away with and New Zealand move to a fully funded model:

“New Zealanders and Maori expect that those donating to political parties are doing so in a way that is open and transparent and that political are doing right by the system. There has been too much back and forth of cases before the courts in recent years where the system itself is not working – it must work for all of us to have confidence in the system” He said

“The challenge of how to deal with party political donations is not new or unique to New Zealand. In more recent history (2019) the New Zealand Government introduced laws that saw a limit to foreign donations over $50 which was largely in response to what had been happening overseas in other jurisdictions such as the United States and the United Kingdom and the risk of foreign interference in our election process. Prior to that the question was put around whether or not our system was fit for purpose after the 2005 election when it was found that many parties had breached the rules in respect of what could be spent or raised in the 90-day period leading into the election. In some of the election cycles that have followed questions have been raised about who is donating to parties, the amount they are donating and whether the amounts or donations are being adequately recorded. In fact there needs to be a lot more work done on the future of how political parties in New Zealand should be funded as well as individuals who might want to stand for election but are not associated with a party or a mainstream party. “ Tukaki says in the submission

“In reference to the removal of the requirement for parties to publicly disclose, within 10 days, the amount donated and the identity of the donor in cases where the donor has donated over $30,000 within the previous 12 months we believe that the disclosure period can be increased to 30 days, to allow the party more time to prepare any returns or update any registers, but that in fact the convention should remain that whomever has donated and the purpose of the donation should remain fully disclosed and open for public scrutiny. It is our ardent belief that in a functioning democracy citizens should be confident in the system working for all New Zealanders and not just a privileged few.” Tukaki went on to say

“As a whole an argument could be mounted that New Zealand develops a model where we do away with all political donations from individuals and entities and that we agree on a formula whereby the country as a whole funds the election cycle from start to end. “ Tukaki said

Tukaki also said that Maori should play a role when it comes to potentially defining things such as koha and Manaakitanga:

“Defining what is in-kind support will be important to getting these requirements right. In addition, the National Maori Authority, for the purpose of Maori candidates and Maori Parties, to be clearer on the important roles of manaakitanga and koha. It would be useful for the Ministry to convene a group of former Maori MPs or political advisors to help guide them on better understand and potentially defining these aspects of Te Ao Maori on political donation reform.”

Tukaki indicated that he still believed a standing Royal Commission to look into corruption still needed to be stood up, a call he has made before.

For a full copy of the submission download it

Ministry of Justice Donations Reform 2021
Download PDF • 536KB


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