Proposals target political donations

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 13:26 18/12/2013

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Political donations of more than $30,000 should be declared under proposed electoral laws, even if they have been broken up into smaller contributions.

The parliamentary justice select committee has returned its recommendations on proposed changes to the Electoral Act.

As well as changes to the way donations are declared, it also recommends tightening the rules around EasyVote cards and requiring people to verbally declare their identities at the polling booth to limit opportunities for electoral fraud.

The proposals mean parties will have to disclose details of every loan exceeding $15,000 every year, and every loan of more than $30,000 must be declared within 10 working days. Commercial bank loans will be excluded.

The committee recommended taking this rule a step further, requiring donations that added up to $30,000 from a single donor be declared within 10 working days.

It was political donations worth $50,000 that cost former Cabinet minister John Banks his portfolios.

Kim Dotcom alleges that during Banks' 2010 Auckland mayoral campaign, Banks asked him to split a $50,000 donation in two so that each cheque could be listed as anonymous.

Banks stood down from his portfolios in October after it was announced he would stand trial over allegations of electoral fraud.

He has announced his retirement from politics at next year's election, and will quit as ACT leader from March.

Initial amendments to the act proposed that the function of EasyVote cards be extended as a record to show voting papers had been issued.

But it has been recommended that those changes be deleted.

"We consider that the proposed provision for a new process known operationally as EasyVote Express would in effect lower the threshold for casting a vote, increasing the potential for fraud and harming the integrity of the voting process," the committee found.

It said that with the advent of EasyVote cards, there should be a requirement to verbally declare one's identity at the polling booth.

"This provision would address our concern about people not explicitly confirming their identity before voting, particularly those with an EasyVote card, who are not currently required to identify themselves verbally," it said.

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