Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Election Funding Reforms

6 August 2008

Statement on Election Funding Reform

In my 8 years as a Councillor I have always been a strong supporter of genuine election donation and funding reforms. Over the years I have argued at Council and at the Local Government & Shires Association level that the government should introduce similar reforms to the USA with donations prohibited to campaigns and political parties from all entities (corporations, partnerships, unions, associations etc) other than individuals and capped at a responsible level such as $2000 per campaign. In addition I support campaign expenditure caps (eg on direct mail and advertising expenditure) and tax deductibility for small donations to encourage and reactivate grass roots engagement in the political process.

These are genuine reforms that have been generally supported by Council and the LGSA conference. However the responsibility for introducing any reforms lies squarely at the feet of the State and Federal parliaments. The recent reforms introduced by the NSW Parliament have created last minute uncertainty and compliance headaches for all candidates, particularly the independents and smaller local based campaigns such as ours. In the longer term parliament must hold a balanced sober enquiry into proper and fair long term donations and funding reforms that create a genuine level playing field, encourage community involvement in elections and are transparent.

In the politically heated weeks before an election the Council can not act on its own to create a non compulsory system that shifts the goal posts for some candidates who agree but not all. In addition the motion moved by the Greens was legally flawed in that it sought to violate the current legal privacy donors are entitled to if they are donating less that $1000. This legal privacy can not be violated by a Council resolution.

My Liberal Campaign Reforms

In my Liberal campaign for Town Hall we have introduced our own voluntary reforms without fanfare or political grandstanding at Council. We have capped all donations for the City of Sydney campaign at $2000 and our average donation to date is a quarter of that amount. We are also experimenting with internet fundraising and encouraging a broad based community support for our campaign. Of course we are also complying with all current disclosure laws.

Our campaign is against well funded opponents. Labor’s Left wing candidate is supported by wealthy unions such as the CFMEU whilst Clover Moore’s party has abused millions of dollars in public money with self promotion, publications, events and advertising that I have called on the Department of Local Government to investigate.

Shayne Mallard
Liberal candidate for Lord Mayor of Sydney

Sydney Morning Herald today reports - Moore votes down donations disclosure

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