Electoral reform doesn’t go far enough

17 September 2019

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.

Deputy Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro said the Opposition wouldn’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," she said.

"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’."

Mrs Finocchiaro said 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," she said.

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

"Without addressing these two key issues, the Opposition cannot support this Bill."