New Zealand Law Society - Law to reduce risk of foreign money influencing election process

Law to reduce risk of foreign money influencing election process

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The Electoral Amendment Bill (No 2) had its third reading 3 December 2019 after being introduced on the same day and passed under urgency. Minister for Justice Andrew Little is in charge of the bill.

The bill amends the Electoral Act 1993 to restrict donations from overseas persons to political parties and candidates, to reduce the risk of foreign money influencing the election process.

The changes will apply to parliamentary elections, not local elections.

Under the bill the candidate and party secretaries are required to take all reasonable steps to satisfy themselves that a donation over $50 is not from an overseas person (clause 2, inserting new section 207JA).

Part 2 introduces other measures to minimise the risk of foreign interference. A party secretary, or person acting in that position, must live in New Zealand (clause 16, inserting new section 3EA). The offence of promoting anonymous advertisements relating to an election is extended so that it applies to all advertising mediums including online advertising, in order to deter misleading anonymous online advertisements (clause 17).

Clauses 15 and 16 come into force on 1 April 2020. The rest of the Act comes into force on 1 January 2020.