This post contains three submissions. A main submission and two supplementary submissions to the 2011 Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters Inquiry into the Funding of Political Parties and Election Campaigns.
In May 11 and 12 of 2011, the House of Representatives and the Senate agreed to refer to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters for inquiry and report, options to improve the system for the funding of political parties and election campaigns, with particular reference to:
(a) issues raised in the Government’s Electoral Reform Green Paper – Donations, Funding and Expenditure, released in December 2008;
(b) the role of third parties in the electoral process;
(c) the transparency and accountability of the funding regime;
(d) limiting the escalating cost of elections;
(e) any relevant measures at the state and territory level and implications for the Commonwealth; and
(f) the international practices for the funding of political parties and election campaigns, including in Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the United States of America.
On 11 July 2011, Accountability Round Table made the following Submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters Inquiry into the Funding of Political Parties and Election Campaigns
Key points raised by ART were:
“The Accountability Round Table’s starting premise is that the cost of election campaigns should be borne entirely by the State.
In support of its position, the Accountability Round Table makes the following additional points:
• the purpose of election campaigning should be to enable voters to go to the ballot box with a reasonably informed view of how they want to cast their vote rather than to sell the political party or candidate.
• as election campaign expenditure has grown, so too has the time that has to be spent raising money by those we elect to govern for us. Such time would be better spent considering the complex policy issues that we face.
• the majority of privately funded donations, whether from corporations or individuals, are a cost borne by the consumer, and one which, in the case of corporations and trade unions, may not necessarily be in accord with the wishes of the ultimate source.
• advertising expenditure by incumbent governments should be subject to rigorous guidelines based on the following principles:-
- material should be relevant to government responsibilities;
- material should be presented in an objective, fair and accessible manner; and
- material should not be directed at promoting party political interests.
• more rigorous standards and monitoring of advertising expenditure by incumbent governments would also release funds for public funding.”
On 9 August 2011, ART offered a supplementary submission querying the legality of party fundraising by offering donors access to members of Parliament;
On 30 August 2011 ART took up the invitation extended to it by the Committee to address issues that arose at the hearing in the course Associate Professor Coghill’s evidence on 10th August.
This second supplementary submission addressed the questions of;
- Can a ban on donations by corporations and unions be effective
- Payment for access –Breaches of the Criminal Code and the drawing of inferences.
- Canadian provisions for public funding.
All Joint Committee submissions, including ours, can be found here
The final report of the Joint Committee, made 9 December 2011 can be found here