It could soon be harder to secretly donate to a political party. The government’s announced new changes to our electoral laws around donations that it hopes to bring in before next year’s general election.
The changes include making all donations over $5,000 identifiable, a shift from the current rules that keep the identity of donors secret on all party donations under $15,000.
The number and total value of party donations under $1,500, not made anonymously, will also need to be disclosed and all registered parties would be required to make their financial statements publicly available every year.
These proposed changes come ahead of an independent review of our electoral laws that is not due to report back until the end of next year.
They also arrives in front of the backdrop of a series of high profile court cases around party donations. Currently, the New Zealand First Foundation is facing scrutiny in the High Court, while charges have also been laid by the Serious Fraud Office against National and Labour. A case against the former is due to begin next month.
Justice minister Kiri Allan said the changes follow public consultation that showed New Zealanders wanted greater transparency in the political system. “Appropriately regulated political donations and loans underpin public trust in the integrity of our electoral system, and the key institutions of a democratic government,” said Allan.
“Importantly, better transparency of party and candidate financing helps support public trust and confidence in our electoral system. These changes will provide the public with more of the information they want.”
Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman last week called for political donations to be capped at $35,000 per person every year, and said the public disclosure threshold should be dropped from $15,000 to just $1,500.