Golriz Ghahraman: Defend our democracy from corrupting money

Opinion 06/06/2019

By Golriz Ghahraman, Green Party MP

New Zealand has a proud and strong democratic system.

But we know the influence of big money corruption, both off shore and at home, has had a frightening effect on similar democracies elsewhere in the world.

That was certainly driven home when New Zealand’s Government was able to act swiftly and with near unanimity across Parliament to introduce a much needed ban on military style weapons in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack.

We know that in places like the United States, a powerful and wealthy gun lobby has successfully thwarted such reform for many years and with devastating effect on public safety.

The Green Party is committed to protecting New Zealand from similar political interference.

We think New Zealanders deserve to know who is paying for a stake in politics, and that big money donations should be restricted. The current regulation of political donations leaves room for improvement in terms of transparency and to ensure New Zealanders from all walks of life have equitable access to the democratic system.

Earlier this year I introduced a Bill that would make a suite of changes to strengthen our democracy, in part by strengthening oversight of our political donations.

Big money in politics undermines the democratic principle of one person, one vote.

Our politicians shouldn’t owe favours to big businesses or foreign interest groups when they come to consider policy and spending in the public interest. My Bill proposes three changes to the law to better regulate electoral donations: a full ban on overseas donations; a limit of $35,000 to any single donation by a person (or company) to any party or candidate; and a requirement that the source of any donation over $1000 be disclosed.

The Bill seeks to stop unfair influence and potential corruption in politics.

We shouldn’t be seeing political donations come from overseas at all, and we need to reduce the anonymity threshold so that we can see who is donating to political parties.

These are all changes that will enhance and improve our democratic system.

New Zealanders are proud to live in a democracy where everyone has an equal vote, and we need to ensure corruption and undue influence is prevented whenever possible.

By Golriz Ghahraman, Green Party MP