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Even more debate over Electoral Bill

Published: 6:37PM Wednesday November 21, 2007 Source: ONE News

Debate over the Electoral Finance Bill is showing no sign of letting up with opponents picking apart each clause they say, is an affront to free speech.

But the government is standing by its campaign regulations with backing from supporters who hijacked a protest at parliament on Wednesday.

Opponents say the Electoral Finance Bill restricts free speech by regulating lobby group spending and advertising in election year, and the National Party is partaking in some very heated discussion of the topic in parliament.

"Next year TVNZ will not be able to broadcast campaign openings and closings or political advertisements...was that the government's intention?," asks National Party deputy leader Bill English.

However,Justice Minister Annette King says that statement is wrong, as TVNZ is exempt under the Broadcasting Act.

"I think what you're seeing is desperation by National as this Bill winds it's way through parliament, and in my view, they're dancing on the head of a pin at this moment," she says.

Any loopholes in the Bill will be cleaned up according to the government.

And that will be welcome news for the Electoral Commission. It says if the rules are not clarified there will be case after case in court.

However the protesters outside parliament aren't happy, shouting out that the Bill was "Ridiculous" and that "It's got to go".

However that is not very likely. The government has the numbers and hopes to pass the Bill by the end of the year.