The Chain Of Events



On the 23rd of July the Minister of Justice of the Labour led Government introduces the Electoral Finance Bill to the House. It passes its first reading on the 26th July by 65 votes to 54. Labour, the Greens, NZ First, United Future and Progressive voted in favour, and the National Party, M?ori Party and independents Gordon Copeland and Taito Phillip Field voted against. ACT did not vote.


On the 7th of September the Human Rights Commission makes a written submission on the Bill to the Justice and Electoral Committee.

On the 14th of September the Law Society makes a submission on the Bill.

John Boscawen submits a Supplementary submission to the Justice Select Committee on the Electoral Finance Bill and makes an oral submission on the 27th, including the following remarks:

“The Human Rights Commission has called on you to withdraw the Bill. I want you to consider the Human Rights Commission submission as my submission. I am calling on you to withdraw this Bill. I stand behind the Human Rights Commission and say the same as they do – withdraw this Bill.”

“You need to understand that if you don’t follow the Human Rights Commission submission to withdraw this Bill, I am thinking of running a campaign against it in support of the Human Rights Commission submission. Even if it cost me $250000, that doesn’t scare me.”

And that is exactly what he did.

The New Zealand Law Society also make an opening statement to the Justice and Electoral Committee.


Oral submission by the Human Rights Commission on the Electoral Finance Bill to the Justice Select Committee on the 18th saying:

Given the fundamental importance of the democratic rights of New Zealanders contained in the proposed legislation.

The Commission’s preference is, and remains, that the proposed legislation, the bill, is withdrawn and redrafted to take into account the very substantial and indepth submissions of the over 600 submitters to the Select Committee.

If it is not to be withdrawn, and rewritten, the Commission’s view that it is essential that any changes be subject to the widest possible public scrutiny to ensure the credibility and legitimacy of whatever electoral law reform emerges.

The importance that we place on the public scrutiny and participation in this process arises from our recognition that a robust human rights environment and culture requires:

  • Democracy
  • The rule of law
  • An independent judiciary
  • Effective and corrupt-free governance institutions
  • Accountability mechanisms such as the Commission, the Ombudsman and so on
  • And an active Civil Society

In our view history has demonstrated that an active civil society is vital to the health and sustainability of the other elements.

And so when we are talking about the very basis of the democracy we need to make sure that the processes allow the people of New Zealand to have confidence in the outcome.

The Human Rights Commission also writes to Lynne Pillay, the Chair of the Justice and Electoral Select Committee, on the 31st October.


On the 1st of November, John Boscawen and Others lay a Statement of Claim in the High Court and commenced proceedings for judicial review of the Attorney-General’s decision to not bring to the attention of the House of Representatives, pursuant to s 7 of the Bill of Rights Act 1990 (NZBORA), provisions of the Electoral Finance Bill 2007 which the applicants say were inconsistent with rights and freedoms contained in NZBORA.

The case was heard on the 5th of November and the Attorney-General sought to strike out the proceedings. John Boscawen sought urgency however the Crown Solicitor argued it wasn’t urgent because parliament’s website showed the Bill wasn’t due to be reported back until 26 Jan 2008, the date six months from when it passed its first reading .

That however, was in fact the final date the Bill was due to be reported back, not necessarily the date it would be reported back. John and the other appellants knew that its was extremely likely the bill would be reported back earlier, if only because parliament would be in recess during January and the media were reporting the bill was due to be reported back in a matter of days, but the Crown described that as “hearsay”. Therefore, the Judge acknowledged his hands were tied and he had no option but to decline urgency but did offer the appellants the possibility of an earlier hearing if they could provide evidence that the Bill would be reported back earlier.

Immediately after court rose that morning JB wrote to the Select Committee, who were fortuitously meeting that afternoon asking when they expected to report back. The Labour majority considered the matter but voted “NO” to the request for confirmation of the likely report back date.

JB was infuriated that the crown relied on the website report date of 26 january to argue against urgency, when it was widely known (as subsequently happened) that the bill would be reported back and passed before Christmas. So he immediately decided to start a radio campaign against the Bill. One can only speculate what would have happened had urgency NOT been declined. JB would probably not have run the ads or organised the protest marches and much of the on the streets protest that eventually contributed to the downfall of the government, may never have happened.

So on Tuesday 6 November, John spent the first $10000 on radio ads. Ads ran on 4 radioworks stations that Thursday 8th and Friday 9th and on 3 Radio Networks stations on the Thursday, playing half a minute past the hour every hour.

Leighton Smith discusses the ads on his talk back radio show and reads out a letter from John Boscawen on air about his campaign.

On Friday 9th November, John issues a Press Release announcing the protest march to be held in Auckland on Saturday 17th November.

On the 12th of November the New Zealand Herald commences a week long campaign against the EFB under the banner headline “Democracy Under Attack” and in an unusual move places an editorial on the same subject on the front page of the newspaper.

On the same day, on his talk back radio show, Leighton Smith talks about the NZ Herald editorial against the Electoral Finance Bill and says that “newspapers of any quality only do that when there is something of major concern to the country”.

On Saturday the 17th John leads the first protest march against the draconian Electoral Finance Bill through Auckland with over 3000 concerned citizens joining him.

Helen Clark dismisses the march as “not indicative of a groundswell”.

The day after the march the Select Committee reported the Bill to the House of Representatives and recommended that the Bill proceed

The Human Rights Commission release a statement on the Electoral Finance Bill on the 19th of November.

Then, Helen Clark (then Prime Minister of New Zealand) brazenly says to Mike Hosking on NewsTalk ZB, “I think you will find that every issue that the Human Rights Commission raised has been addressed.”

On November 20th, John Boscawen refutes Clark’s comments in a newspaper ad entitled “PRIME MINISTER, YOU STILL DON’T GET IT.” and advertises the next march in Auckland on Saturday 1 December.

The Select Committee Reports on the Bill

The second protest march is held in Wellington on the 21st. The very next day the Electoral Finance Bill passes its second reading by 65 votes to 54. Labour, New Zealand First, the Greens, United Future, and the Progressive Party supported it. National, ACT, the M?ori Party, and independents Gordon Copeland and Taito Phillip Field voted against it, the M?ori party voted two of its four votes in favour.

On the 28th November, John leads a protest march in Christchurch.

John Boscawen issues a press release on 30 November, announcing a final Protest March against the Electoral Finance Bill, this Saturday 1 December marching down Queen Street and explaining the reasons for the march.


1 December and John has over 5000 concerned Kiwis join him on his “March for Democracy”, the second protest march to be held in Auckland. Easily three-quarters of those present indicated they had never taken part in protest marches before. Prior to the march, John Key, Leader of the Opposition, contacts John Boscawen to ask, if he was to attend the march, whether he could speak. John Boscawen replies that the marches are apolitical and therefore no he could not. Instead John Key sends a message to be read out at the march. John Boscawen gives a speech to the march.

The next day he issues a Press Release about the “March for Democracy” and explains the reasons for it.

On the 3rd December the Committee of the whole House stage began


John issues another Press Release titled: “Government continues to ignore the Human Rights Commission”, in which he also answers the personal smears from the Green Party’s Russell Norman and Labour Deputy Leader Michael Cullen who tried to suggest a link between his membership of ACT and the Business Roundtable and the issues he is raising. Having answered their smears openly, he then challenges them, along with NZ First and United Future, to now have the courage to tell all New Zealanders why they continue to ignore and defy their our own Human Rights Commission on the subject of the Electoral Finance Bill.

The next half page ad on the 7th December in the New Zealand Herald is directed at the Prime Minister: “ANSWER MY QUESTION, PRIME MINISTER!”

18th December – The third reading of the Electoral Finance Bill in Parliament and the bill is passed by a majority of 63 votes to 57, supported by Labour, the Greens, New Zealand First and Jim Anderton.

It was opposed by National, the Maori Party, United Future, ACT, and Taito Phillip Field.

The next day Leighton Smith announces John Boscawen as his “Person of the Year’ on Newstalk ZB.

“In a country where taking a stand, putting yourself on the line and spending your own money and fighting against injustice, is not exactly commonplace, is not even encouraged, but shows a bravery, a profile, a personality, a courage that is to be admired…my Person of the Year is John Boscawen”.

The Electoral Finance Bill is given royal assent the same day.



Even thought the law is now passed, John is not willing to give up the fight for freedom, and decides to hold a silent protest march in Auckland. After all, it’s now election year, and New Zealanders HAVE been silenced, by their own government no less. The newspaper ad “MARCH FOR FREE SPEECH”features a large photo of a man with his mouth taped.

The silent protest on the 9th of March draws another large crowd. One of the speakers is Bill Hodge, Professor of Law at Auckland University.


On the 3rd of May john is in Tauranga, leading a protest march of between 600-800 people through downtown Tauranga opposing the Electoral Finance Act. It was an outstanding success and was the largest protest seen in Tauranga for several years – certainly since the 1981 Springbok Tour, if not before.

Finally the Judge agreed to hear the case and dismissed the urgency application in the High Court on 15 May 2008

The judgement is received July 2008 and John appeals the judgement to the Appeal Court October 2008


Election Day – 8th November- and the Labour government loses the general election.

On the 19th, John Boscawen assumes office as a Member of Parliament and 4th on the ACT Party list.

17 February 2009

The day we had all been waiting for.

The Electoral Finance Act was repealed by a vote in Parliament of 112 to 9.

John Boscawen was one of the MP’s in Parliament to speak and vote in favour of the repeal.