A group of six New Zealand environmental organisations are set to file documents against the Electoral Commission this afternoon, in what they have described as a freedom of speech test case. The groups — Greenpeace, Forest and Bird, 350 Aotearoa, Generation Zero, Oxfam New Zealand and WWF New Zealand — have brought the case after the Electoral Commission branded material produced by them as an election advertisement. The material in question related to the Climate Voter initiative, launched last month, which aims to get all political parties to address climate change in the run up to September’s General Election. Election advertisements must adhere to a strict set of legal requirements, and restrictions on spending.
However, the environmental groups say the rules were intended to target party political promotions, not issues-based campaigning.
The Electoral Commission decision could have “huge implications” for many organisations across the country who may be “caught up in this far-reaching interpretation”, the groups said in a joint statement today.
A letter was sent to the Electoral Commission today, informing it the groups were commencing legal proceedings. Documents supporting the case were to be filed this afternoon.