1 Aug 2022

Cabinet confirms 'shadow entity' loophole will be closed

8:33 pm on 1 August 2022

Cabinet will add a fix for a legal loophole highlighted by the New Zealand First Foundation court case, via its electoral law bill already before Parliament.

Kiri Allan

Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Minister of Justice Kiri Allan confirmed Cabinet would within the next four weeks sign off a draft amendment which would then go before a select committee.

The High Court ruling cleared the two defendants of their charges, finding $750,000 supplied to the New Zealand First Foundation was not technically a party political donation.

It has led legal experts to warn it could open New Zealand's elections up to funders with big pockets - including from overseas - to hide large donations to political parties contesting elections.

With just a year left before the next election however, the clock is ticking to get the loophole fixed, and Allan had sought advice which was delivered on Friday.

There were two aspects which needed to be resolved: The definition of "party donation", and making the failure to inform the party secretary of any donations received a criminal offence, she said.

The Electoral Amendment Bill now before Parliament offered a convenient way to quickly resolve the problem, Allan said.

Opposition parties National and ACT have said they would support closing the loophole, but would prefer to do so through a different bill.

However, the government with its majority does not require their support on the matter.

"We have a useful vehicle by which we can pursue," Allan said.

"I've been advised it sits within the purpose and the scope of the electoral amendment bill currently before the House."

She said officials were providing further advice but believed the amendments would be "quite succinct", and hoped it would be passed through legislation and in effect by the end of the year.

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