New electoral finance rules
New electoral finance rules will be in place from 1 January 2023 after the passing of the Electoral Amendment Bill in Parliament.
Key changes include the thresholds for the disclosure of donations and changes to the way registered political parties report their finances and donations.
Key electoral finance changes from 1 January
In an election year, donations over $20,000 from the same donor will need to be declared within 10 working days. Currently the threshold is $30,000.
In the annual returns parties make on their donations and loans, parties will be required to:
- report the names and addresses of donors and contributors who give more than $5,000 (currently $15,000)
- report the number of donations under $1,500 that are not made anonymously
- separately state the total amount of monetary and in-kind donations received.
Note, the annual returns from parties due on 30 April 2023 for the 2022 calendar year are not affected by these changes to the electoral finance rules.
Another key change is that parties will be required to disclose their financial statements (due to be filed in 2024).
The new law changes the definition of ‘party donation’ to include a donation to any person or body of persons if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the donation is intended for the benefit of the party.
Candidates standing in a parliamentary election also file returns on donations. They will now be required to publicly report on any loans received to support their campaigns.
Until 1 January the current rules, for example, for reporting donations over $30,000, continue to apply.
Eligibility to vote from overseas
The Bill passed in Parliament this week also extends the eligibility criteria for New Zealanders living overseas to enrol and vote in the 2023 General Election.
From 31 March 2023, if you live overseas, you can enrol if you’re a:
- New Zealand citizen who has been in New Zealand within the last 6 years, or
- New Zealand permanent resident and have been in New Zealand in the last 4 years.
After the 2023 election the eligibility criteria will change back to the current settings of 3 years for New Zealand citizens and 12 months for New Zealand permanent residents.