A significant barrier has been removed for people who want to stand in local government elections, with a change to the requirement to publish personal details in election advertising.
The Associate Local Government Minister Kieran McAnulty has taken the Local Electoral (Advertising) Amendment Bill through its final stages in Parliament today. It will come into effect on 1 July, in time for this year’s local government elections.
“In October New Zealanders will be voting on who they want to represent them on councils, making decisions on their behalf and their local communities. But first we need to get through the campaign season,” said Kieran McAnulty.
“It remains important that New Zealanders know who is behind campaign advertisements – that is why it will remain a requirement for all advertisements to carry an authorisation statement.
“However, it is also important that candidates feel safe to contest elections. We want a wide range of people to put themselves forward to represent the many diverse communities within this country.
“The previous rules required a physical address on electoral advertisements which opened up threats of harm to candidates, and may have discouraged women, rural people, and other groups from stepping up as candidates.
“Local Government New Zealand recommended these rules be changed, and 90 percent of submissions agreed.
“During the public submissions on the bill, the Parliamentary select committee heard from one brave former candidate of the risks they faced. The submitter said:
“One evening during my campaigning, I received an anonymous phone call from somebody wanting to know what would happen if I was not alive on election night. The next morning, I discovered that somebody had come onto my property to slash the throat on my photograph and gouge the eyes out.”
“This is not ok. We have changed the law to ensure the safety of all local government candidates around the country, by replacing the requirement to include a physical address in an authorisation statement with other options.
“The options now are a physical address, an email address, a telephone number, a PO Box number or a website address that includes another contact option. This creates a safer playing field for all candidates so that no one is discouraged from standing,” said Kieran McAnulty.