Law Changes Will Affect Local Body Elections

The Government has moved urgently via Parliament to amend the Local Government Act.

The changes came into affect today. The amendments tighten the rules that apply to local body election campaigns.

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide said there had been considerable concern within government about the campaigns of some candidates.

“The amendments remove a number of anomalies that currently exist,” said Mr Hide.

“At present there are strict limits on what candidates can spend, but almost no limits on what they can say. That makes no sense.”

The law changes mean that, for a 60 day period before elections, certain misleading words and phrases cannot be used by candidates.

The list of banned words and phrases includes the words “vibrant” and “vision”.

Critics have slammed the sudden move, saying it is undemocratic and impinges upon free speech.

But the law change has delighted Citizens and Ratepayers, the main centre-right grouping contesting local body elections in Auckland.

Citizens and Ratepayers had been facing a concerted campaign from the centre-left City Vision party to take control of the new Supercity. Now City Vision will have to rebrand and find a new name, at considerable expense.

Supercity mayoral candidate John Banks could not be reached for comment on the law changes. However, he has previously stated he believes there is no place in Auckland politics for either vibrancy or vision.

His main Supercity rival, Manukau mayor Len Brown, would not comment officially on the matter. His campaign manager has explained that Brown is worried he might inadvertently break the new laws by commenting on their effect. This is because Brown is unable to string a sentence together without using the words “vibrant” and “vision”.