The government’s new Electoral Funding Bill 2018 (NSW) will dramatically change the landscape of elections in NSW.
The Bill includes some positive measures around the definition of prohibited donors, increases transparency and for the first time introduces some spending caps in local government elections. However, it also increases administrative funding for political parties, and maintains massive political party spending caps of more than $24 million per party while at the same time proposing to slash the amount that advocacy groups can spend during elections.
Commenting on the Bill, Jamie Parker MP for Balmain and Greens anti-corruption spokesperson says:
“The Greens NSW continues to lead by example when it comes to election donations. Our donations policy in NSW only permits donations from individuals, capped at $2500 annually. The Greens believe elections should be a contest of ideas, not a battle between wealthy donors and vested interests.”
“The Greens have long been calling for more comprehensive election funding laws in NSW but this Bill is not it. While the government’s Bill contains some positive measures, it won’t keep big money out of elections in NSW.
“It is ridiculous to allow political parties to spend over $22m in an election campaign while slashing advocacy campaigns from the wider community to a maximum of $500,000.
“We are also deeply concerned about the ramification of new laws to prohibit advocacy groups ‘acting in concert’ during campaigns.
“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 doesn’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.