New Zealand seeks to limit Brethren influence

New Zealand’s parliament is debating a Bill to stop groups like the Exclusive Brethren sect from unduly influencing elections.

The Electoral Finance Bill was conceived in the wake of the 2005 election, when members of the Christian sect spent $NZ1.2 million ($1m) on an anti-Labour Party advertising campaign.

New Zealand’s then opposition leader Don Brash later admitted he’d known about the Brethren’s activities.

Ad: Vacation? City Trip? Weekend Break? Book Skip-the-line tickets

Exclusive Brethren

Many of the Exclusive Brethren movement’s teachings and practices are abusive to such an extent that this movement can rightly be labeled as an abusive church, and possibly even as a cult of Christianity

As its political smear campaigns demonstrate, hypocrisy is a hallmark of the Exclusive Brethren – members of which are not allowed to vote

Parliamentarians today began the second reading of the Bill, which is expected to be passed into law next week.

If passed, the Bill will replace the existing Electoral Act, which allows groups or companies to spend unlimited amounts of money to anonymously advertise their views during election campaigns.

Under the new rules, individuals and groups will be limited to anonymous advertising expenditure up to $NZ12,000.

Any person or group wanting to exceed that must surrender their anonymity and register, and even then are restricted to a maximum advertising budget of $NZ120,000.

The Bill has sparked widespread debate among civil libertarians and in media circles, amid claims it will impede free speech.

“Democracy under attack” said a front page headline in the New Zealand Herald newspaper today. “There will be no winners if the Electoral Finance Bill is passed into law this week,” the paper said in an editorial.

A demonstration on the weekend saw 5000 march in Auckland against its introduction.

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark has portrayed the Bill as a way to create a level playing field for political debate in the run-up to elections.

“Do you want money politics to distort New Zealand’s elections and democracy or do you want the sort of rules that around the world western democracies put in place?” she said yesterday.

Justice Minister Annette King said the new laws would safeguard democracy.

Travel Religiously

Book skip-the-line tickets to the worlds major religious sites — or to any other place in the world.

We appreciate your support

One way in which you can support us — at no additional cost to you — is by shopping at Amazon.com.

AFFILIATE LINKS

Our website includes affiliate links, which means we get a small commission — at no additional cost to you — for each qualifying purpose. For instance, as an Amazon Associate Religion News Blog earns from qualifying purchases. That is one reason why we can provide this service free of charge.

Source

(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)

More About This Subject

Religion News Blog last updated this post on CET (Central European Time)