Bill English MP
National Party Deputy Leader
13 August 2007
PM is responsible for electoral drift net
National Party Deputy Leader Bill English says Helen Clark can't now distance herself from Labour's latest misjudgment on electoral law reform.
"Having had since the 2005 election to draft a bill that meets public expectations, Labour has once again over-promised and under-delivered. Helen Clark can't now distance herself from it. This bill did not miraculously appear from nowhere.
"This bill was the subject of lengthy Cabinet discussions. The Prime Minister chairs Cabinet. Her decision to proceed with the bill as drafted is testament to how out of touch her Government has become.
"It's hard to believe that someone who thinks she has her finger on the pulse could get this so very wrong.
"She and her Labour colleagues have clearly been blinded by self-interest."
Mr English says even with a rudimentary understanding of the bill, the Labour Cabinet must've known the draconian changes would be an anti-democratic drift net.
"How can Helen Clark credibly support this Government legislation on one day, then disown it the next?"
Mr English says the bill will severely curtail people's rights to express a political view in election year, while allowing the Labour Government almost unfettered access to the public purse through departmental advertising.
"Everyone will remember that at one point Helen Clark tried to argue the pledge card was not electioneering."
Mr English fears the legislation will all but silence third parties of all shades, whether they support or oppose the current Government.
"We must fight to protect freedom of speech and people's democratic right to participate in the electoral process."
Mr English has written to about 500 non-government organisations highlighting the risks posed to them by the bill.