Labour calls for electoral donation reform after Jami-Lee Ross saga

Labour wants electoral donation laws cleaned up in the wake of the Jami-Lee Ross saga.

The secret recording of National leader Simon Bridges he released raised questions over whether political favours were being bought.

The Prime Minister says in an ideal world, parties wouldn't have to fundraise at all - raising the spectre of taxpayers covering campaign costs.

Every election, political parties spend up large on everything from billboards and buses. A huge bulk of the cash comes from party donations - and the Justice Minister says they need to be looked at.

"People naturally want to see a system where favours cannot be bought," Andrew Little says.

It comes off the back off the secretly recorded conversation between rebel MP Mr Ross and leader Mr Bridges, where they discussed donations and talked of getting a Chinese candidate on the party list.

National Party president Peter Goodfellow admits that the man mentioned in the recording - Colin Zheng - is now in training at the candidates college to become an MP.

"I've known him for some time, I think he's actually a good potential candidate for us. I encouraged him to enter the college," he says.

But Mr Goodfellow denies that donations buy influence within the National Party.

"Ultimately, we don't give favours for donations," he says.

The National Party has a slick fundraising operation, outstripping all Government parties combined.

Last year they raked in more than $4.5 million. In comparison, the Labour Party only pulled $1.6 million - and New Zealand First and the Greens didn't even hit the $1 million mark.

Labour calls for electoral donation reform after Jami-Lee Ross saga

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is now raising the idea that the taxpayer picks up the tab for political campaigning.

"I would personally love a scenario where as a political party we weren't having to fundraise," she says.

But that idea won't fly with New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

"If you haven't got market demand for a political party, why should the taxpayer be propping them up?" he asks.

Donations are murky waters, and the perception that influence can be bought is dangerous territory.

But the alternative, with campaign costs being met by the taxpayer, will be a hard thing to sell to voters.


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