A new coalition has formed to push for tough party finance law reform. It's taken on the name of a group formed in 1979: the Coalition for Open Government (COG). Their formation is to be welcomed, even if their initial key policies if enacted would possibly lead to less open government and an even less politically diverse party system. [Read more below]
I agree with COG that NZ's current election finance laws are incredibly bad and need reform. I also agree with COGs' belief that 'election finance laws should not be designed and decided by the politicians and parties that they are intended to control. The laws should be the result of wide debate and public input'. I assume therefore that COG will be condemning Labour's current negotiations with minor parties to reform the system behind closed doors.
The new coalition includes prominent patrons and members such as All Black Anton Oliver, ex-Electoral Commission chair, Paul Harris, and investigative journalist Nicky Hager. I'm sure that the group can play an important part in the debate and I look forward to reviewing their progress and proposals. The group has already put forward it's initial Key Proposals. I'll write a more substantial critique of their proposals in the near future. But for the moment I'd point out that these proposals would produce a much more state-controlled party system which would have untold unintended effects on party politics (many which would be very negative), and parties that have even less engagement with society. We need a system which discourages the divorce between parties and civil society, not perpetuates it. In particular, COG's advocacy of increased state funding of parties - whether transparent or not - would just about kill off any residual organic connection with society.