The Liberal National government has shown just how afraid they are of losing the next election pushing new laws through the Parliament at 2:30am in the morning to stifle the voice of Unions NSW, GetUp! and other third parties in upcoming elections.
The Electoral Funding Bill 2018 includes some positive measures including the definition of prohibited donors, increased transparency and some spending caps in local government election but was a missed opportunity to clean up politics.
The spending caps for local government elections are ill thought out and will see massive overspending in some areas with a pittance in others. They must be fixed before the 2020 council elections.
Jamie Parker MP for Balmain and Greens anti-corruption spokesperson says:
“This law is simply designed to rig the election by gaging voices from the wider community who are critical of the government’s agenda.
It is outrageous to allow a political party to spend over $22m in an election campaign period while slashing by more than half the funds advocacy groups in the community can spend.
“If government wants to reduce the voice of unions and environmental groups by more than half they should reduce the amount political parties can spend proportionately.
“This Bill won’t cut the influence of big money; it denies unions and environmental groups the capacity to effectively participate in elections.
“There is a massive loophole for candidates to spend up to $60,000 outside of the donation cap on their own campaign. This means political parties be encouraged to endorse wealthy candidates who can afford to spend tens of thousands on their own campaign and will provide a back door way of avoiding donation caps for the Upper House,” Mr Parker said. Greens MP and Local Government Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“The Greens support taking money out of politics and spending caps in local government elections are a good thing, but these caps are unworkable and irrational.
“The government’s model creates bizarre outcomes for councils across the state.
“Under these changes a party contesting a council election with 2,000 voters across 4 wards can spend $120,000 but if they are in a council with 200,000 votes and no wards they are limited to $30,000.
“A party running in the City of Sydney will only be able to spend 21 cents per voter, compared to $3.70 per voter in Woollahra, $50 per voter in Walcha and a whopping $100 per vote in the Central Darling.
“This government could have accepted our amendments and spent the time getting this formula right, but instead they’ve rammed these laws through Parliament in the early hours of the morning.
“Despite the amendments not succeeding, all parties acknowledged the serious problems with the Government’s local council election rules and the Greens’ amendments will be immediately reviewed by the Parliament’s Joint Standing Electoral Committee,” Mr Shoebridge said