New Zealand to ban foreign political donations

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New Zealand will ban foreign donations to politicians and tighten disclosure rules for political advertising, the government said on Tuesday, as concerns over foreign interference intensify ahead of an election next year.

The move follows warnings, including from the country’s intelligence agency, of the risk of foreign meddling in New Zealand politics.

The Guardian says that the government said it would introduce legislation on Tuesday banning donations over NZ$50 ($32) to political parties and candidates by foreigners.

“The risk of foreign interference in elections is a growing international phenomenon and can take many forms, including donations. New Zealand is not immune from this risk,” justice minister Andrew Little said in an emailed statement.

The new laws also would require the names and addresses of those funding election advertisements in all mediums to be published to reduce the “avalanche of fake news social media ads” that had marred elections overseas, Little said.

Financial Times reports that concern about meddling in elections has skyrocketed since US intelligence agencies concluded Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential election that saw Donald Trump confound the polls to beat Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state. Russia denied the allegations. Security services in New Zealand and Australia — both members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network, which also includes the US, UK and Canada — are most concerned about alleged attempts by Beijing to influence politics, interfere with diaspora communities and computer networks.  Last year, New Zealand was engulfed in controversy over donations made by Zhang Yikun, a Chinese businessman with links to the Communist party, to the opposition National party. Simon Bridges, the party’s leader, denied allegations he had attempted to conceal a NZ$100,000 ($66,000) donation from Mr Zhang when a secretly recorded telephone conversation about the gift and the possibility of recruiting more ethnically Chinese election candidates was leaked to the media.

Via The Guardian  / 

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