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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Some holiday reading on electoral reform

Cabinet Secretary and Special Minister of State, Senator Faulkner has released the Electoral Reform Green Paper for public comment- submissions invited by 23 February and the Government will also ask the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters to consider the issues raised. Senator Faulkner said the Paper needed to be considered against the background of increasing campaign costs, the need for political parties to raise ever increasing amounts of funds, and the need to address perceptions of undue influence. Another paper canvassing other election related issues will be released in 2009.

Chapter 3 covers current disclosure requirements under Federal, state and territory laws. What a mixed bag but with plenty of reform initiatives on the table in most places, as there needs to be- two states Victoria and South Australia do not have annual or election based disclosure schemes.

Chapter 6 raises the options for change with timeliness one of the key issues [6.65]:
"The effect of the current timeframes is a lag between transactions being entered into and their disclosure which raises a question over their transparency. The public release dates for disclosures relating to the 24 November 2007 federal election are 12 May 2008 for election returns (for candidates, Senate groups and donors) and 2 February 2009 for annual returns (which cover political parties, associated entities, third parties and donors). Clearly the major point of public disclosure, particularly in the absence of comprehensive regulation through bans or caps on financial activities, is to allow the public to form judgements about political parties and candidates and to apply that knowledge in exercising their franchise at the ballot box. However, these considerable time lags do not allow the voting public to be informed of election campaign finances at the end point of those campaigns when casting their vote."


  1. As a Canadian voter, I find it obscene all the money our pollies spend to get elected. I would support removing the tax write-offs on political contributions. Eliminate radio and TV ads and all those ugly campaign signs. Your a candidate get out and stump or use the internet. Work for your vote, rather then outspending your opponent!!!

  2. Thanks Ken- from this distance and the summary in the Green Paper the Canadian system sounds more impressive than most in coming to grips with the problem.Peter