The pundits
and political reporters have all managed to miss what the punters would
probably think is the most interesting angle out of Tuesday’s 2004
Election Financial Donation Returns (here).

There’s
been a lot of focus on the $600,000 plus Malcolm Turnbull spent in
Wentworth. The bloke got a bargain. It’s been said that he blew more
than $2 million of his own dosh back in 1999 on the republic referendum.

What might be interesting to focus on is Taxation Ruling
1999/10. “This Ruling applies to Members of the Commonwealth House of
Representatives and of the Senate, Members of State Legislative
Assemblies and Legislative Councils, Members of the Northern Territory
and Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assemblies, and Ministers
of the Crown (Ministers), collectively referred to in this Ruling as
Members,” it begins.

Pollies’ lurks, in other words.

Like
all tax rulings, it’s complicated. There are 84 pages of the damn
thing. But have a look at what’s included: “Election expenses: A
deduction is allowable for expenses incurred in contesting an election
for Membership, of the Federal or a State Parliament, or the
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory or the Legislative
Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory (paragraphs 158 to 173).”

Yup.
Pols can write off a whole range of election expenses against tax. Nice
work if you can get it – and perhaps something we should be debating?

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW