Colin Craig to fight broadcasting money

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 17:33 18/08/2014
	 Colin Craig
FAIRFAX NZ
COLIN CRAIG: Conservative Party leader.

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Conservative Party leader Colin Craig has hired public law expert Mai Chen to contest broadcasting allocations ahead of the September election.

The Electoral Commission announced its broadcasting allocations in June, giving ACT $76,930 and the Conservative Party $60,207.  

The Conservatives were also given one and a half minutes of broadcasting time. A host of other minor parties, including the satirical Civilian Party, were awarded $33,635.

The Conservatives feel they should get more money and broadcasting time than ACT.

In a legal letter to Electoral Commission chairman Sir Hugh Williams, Chen said the charges against former ACT MP John Banks and his subsequent resignation should be considered. 

''The Conservative Party submits that Hon John Banks' resignation on June 13, 2014 is a significant change in circumstances, such that the commission should vary the allocations if the grounds in [the Electoral Act] are satisfied,'' she said.

Banks was still an MP and waiting on a verdict over charges he knowingly filed a false return at the time the allocations were announced.

But he was found guilty of the charges shortly afterwards and resigned from Parliament a few days later.  A spokeswoman for the Electoral Commission confirmed the letter had been received. The reallocation of election broadcast funding was being considered and parties would be told of its decision before it was made public, she said.

A reallocation of funds was not uncommon, because there were always parties included in the original allocation that had not registered by the deadline. That was Wednesday last week - the day Parliament was officially dissolved.

Craig said a decision on the party's application was due shortly.  ''Our understanding is the Electoral Commission has now met and considered our application.

''I guess they're working through the technicalities of how they're going to adjust things. We do expect it to be successful,'' he said.

''We're asking for three things; one for higher priority, one for more broadcasting funding, and one for more broadcasting time.  

''We'd like to succeed on all three.''

In her letter to the commission, Chen said the Conservative Party should receive a ''minimum of an additional $2500 in funding and have its time allocations increased to 1.75 minutes''.

''The commission will also need to consider the order in which opening and closing addresses are scheduled.  

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''If ACT is shifted to category 8, this should move the Conservative Party's slot to ninth and ahead of the ACT party, rather than tenth.''

The commission is expected to release its decision this week.

- Stuff

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