Electoral reform doesn’t go far enough: CLP

Sir – Changes to the Electoral Legislation Further Amendment Bill 2019 do not go far enough to stop third parties from spending untold amounts during election campaigns.

 

The Opposition won’t be supporting the Bill.

 

While the CLP Opposition does not object to most provisions of the Bill, including a cap on expenditure for parties and candidates, other provisions of the Bill threaten the integrity of the electoral process.

 

Political parties are limited to $40,000 per division where candidates are endorsed, and independent candidates are subject to the same monetary limit. There is no equivalent cap on expenditure by third parties in the Bill.

 

The Electoral Commissioner stated in his submission to the Scrutiny Committee that if the issue of third party campaigners wasn’t dealt with, there won’t be a level playing field at the next election.

 

The Gunner Labor Government came to power promising to be open, transparent and accountable, yet it is picking and choosing bits of Electoral Reform.

 

The Opposition echo the concerns of Justice Mansfield that “the level of political donations, unless controlled, may give rise to some loss of confidence in the integrity of the political system”.

 

Travel and accommodation could also be used to influence the electoral process.

 

This Bill means political parties, third party campaigners and associated entities controlled by political parties will be allowed to spend unlimited funds on travel and accommodation for interstate volunteers like unions, lobbyists and activist political organisations, without even being required to report on those amounts.

 

The Gunner Labor Government made a commitment to restore trust and integrity, so it should do this reform properly the first time.

 

Lia Finocchiaro

Deputy Opposition Leader

 

 

UPDATE 9.30am

 

Capping the amount of money a political party can spend on an election campaign is welcomed by the Country Liberal Party, but the legislation will not stop third party entities like unions from spending untold amounts on smear campaigns to control the political debate, writes CLP Party President Ron Kelly (at right).

 

He says he is also concerned that there was no public hearing on such an important issue, from a Gunner Labor Government who promised to be open and transparent: Labor simply can’t be trusted.

 

The legislation appears to be designed to result in less election campaign advertising on Territorians’ TVs and stuck on their fences, but it would absolutely fail in this objective as only political parties and candidates are required to play within the rules with a capped expenditure of $40,000 per electorate.

 

Unfortunately, this cap only applies to political parties and candidates, and not to the unions, to Get Up or to any other political activists: We know unions spend an enormous amount of money promoting the Territory Labor Party, and smear anyone who stands against Labor, be that candidates for the CLP, other parties, or independents.

 

The union movement are the biggest donor to the Labor Party, and under this legislation, once they top up Labor’s financial coffers up to the cap, they can then continue to spend with impunity.

 

Mr Kelly writes the Country Liberals have nothing against unions supporting workers but their blatant Territory Labor Party campaigning is a separate issue.

 

 

 

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