The Green Party are calling for an independent citizens’ assembly to investigate cleaning up political donations, including public funding for political parties during election campaigns.
“It’s clear that Parliament is incapable of meaningful reforms to itself, as some political parties have a vested interest in the status quo,” said Green Party Co-leader, James Shaw.
“For instance the National Party vetoed recommendations for improvements to our democracy in both 2012 and 2018, which were made by the Electoral Commission and Appropriations Review Committee. They also ignored their own Constitutional Advisory Panel on improvements, showing a stubborn resistance to change.
“That is why the Greens are calling for a citizens’ assembly to take matters out of the hands of politicians and put them into the hands of the people.
“Everyone should have equal access to democracy and trust in the political institutions that make decisions for their communities.
“At the moment, two out of five political parties in Parliament are under investigation for potential donations misconduct. Whilst we cannot predict or ponder what the outcomes of those investigations will be, ultimately we think these investigations wouldn’t be happening had parties had access to public funds rather than vying for large donations from private interests.
“That is why Golriz Ghahraman has a Members Bill in the ballot to strengthen our democracy. We did this before any Serious Fraud Office investigations into political party donations because we believe broadly the system is not working as it should,” said James Shaw.
Golriz Ghahraman said, “When trust in political parties goes down, our democracy suffers. The public turns away from the institution that is supposed to deliver from them.
“We’ve seen overseas the huge problems that have arisen when political parties accept huge donations from fossil fuel, tobacco, gambling and gun lobbies. Decisions are made that hurt our communities and democracy is corrupted.
“Currently in New Zealand political parties are operating in massive grey zones around donations. There is much to do to clean up the system but the Green Party believe that a national conversation about publicly funded elections would help prevent any potential misconduct in the future.
“Right now more than ever New Zealanders need to be engaging in democracy, not disenfranchised by it. We all must work together to ensure equality for all, healthy nature and climate action.”