Although the public know little about it, the Labour Party is doing the classic horse-trading over substantial amendments to the Electoral Act that the Government is about to introduce to Parliament. The changes, which could be passed under urgency to avoid widespread public debate, will award all the parties with legislation that suits their political interests. Essentially Labour is quietly building up a cartel of parties to support its moves, which are likely to involve significantly increased state funding for the parties, limits on donations to parties, and restrictions on third party political campaigning.
At the moment Labour is building up a majority - or 'cartel' - in the House by negotiating with NZ First, United Future, the Progressives and the Greens. They have left out the Maori Party, Act and National, who are feeling aggrieved, as the usual process for electoral alterations is to seek a broader cartel of parties so that they would all agree on the benefits. It is highly significant - and unusual - that none of the parties in the new cartel have been willing to talk to the media about the upcoming legislation and negotiations.
The behind-the-scene horse trading is likely to involve Labour buying off the small parties by considering changes to the allocation process for election advertising. The Electoral Commission currently includes Labour and National representatives in deciding how to dole out the cash, and it normally leads to highly contentious divisions of the state funding. Meanwhile, the Auditor-General Kevin Brady has said he expects a sweeping review of parliamentary state funding. I imagine this is unlikely to happen, and if it does it will be merely be done in way to ensure that more funding rather than less is made available to the parties in Parliament.