New Zealand’s democracy is in crisis. Members of Government and Opposition parties are being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office. Regardless of whether they are found guilty, the scandal has shown that parties can drive a truck through the loopholes in the rules which are supposed to safeguard our electoral system. No party in Parliament seems to have the integrity to call time on this creeping corruption.
Here’s a brief recap:
- Four people have been charged over two separate donations of $100,000 to National, including their former Chief Whip.
- One of the donors in question has links to the Chinese Communist Party and seems to have strong ties to Labour as well as National.
- The junior partner in the coalition Government (NZ First) is also under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office over donations to their Foundation. Meanwhile one of the people running that Foundation also runs a lobbying firm.
- Labour’s Chief of Staff was also the director of a lobbying company.
“The wolves are in charge of the hen house,” says TOP Leader Geoff Simmons. “We can’t trust any of the current crop of career politicians to sort this out. We agree with commentator Bryce Edwards that the country needs an independent Royal Commission. All parties should agree in advance to implement whatever the Commission comes up with. They can’t choose to ignore recommendations that don’t suit them like they did with the last one on MMP.”
TOP has always argued that we need a Democracy Reset to restore people’s faith in government and the public sector. Given what has come to light over the past year, this must include a reform of electoral funding. Without action we will continue to see young people disillusioned and disengaging with democracy. As we have seen overseas with Trump and Brexit this will simply be a ticking time bomb.