Stephen wrote… “Political parties in federal elections are not allowed to spend more
than $15 million, similar to the British cap of 17.5 million pounds”:
Caps
don’t work and are unenforceable during an election campaign – just
witness the problems resulting from overspending in the recent NZ
elections. What are you going to do if you find that the cap was
breached? Void the election and call another?

“An independent body arbitrates on what constitutes political advertising by a government”:
More details please. This is one of those simplistic things that gets
killed in the details. There were comparable proposals put forward in
the Senate inquiry into government advertising, and Senator Abetz (the
then SMOS) demolished the arguments on practicality issues.

“… and postage allowances for individual MPs are limited to enough for two four-page flyers each year…”: That
would double what they get already, assuming you use the 50c stamp
model! Unless you mean they only have 16c per elector per annum
through the unaddressed distribution model – in which case, what do
they do for regular correspondence?

“… but no taxpayer-funded correspondence is permitted six months before an election”:
Hmmm, so your local MP can’t write to the Dept of Immigration or
Centrelink to help you with your problem for six months prior to a
(presumably scheduled) election? Great – what are they doing in
that time? One sixth of an MPs term effectively becomes “dead space”
for the legitimate constituent work of their office, does it?

“Borrowing from the Americans, only individuals on the Australian
electoral roll are allowed to donate, so there’s no more company,
union, or foreign money corrupting the process”:
That is a truly
outstanding idea – and it would guarantee an absolute preponderance of
funding for the Coalition. Why do you think that at least two senior
former Liberal fundraisers proposed such a model? Because it would give
a massive benefit for the Coalition. But thanks for the thought, anyway.
Good idea.

“Political party membership fees are tax deductible, along with individual donations of up to $500 a year”:
So it’s not the principle of allowing tax deductibility for political
contributions, it’s just the quantum is it, Stephen? And by the
way, the $500 is actually MORE than what is currently allowed ($100).

“Public funding continues but is reduced to $1.50 a vote, with a
lower threshold of 1%. No candidate or party can make a Pauline
Hanson-style profit from public funding because taxpayers only
reimburse receipted election expenses, which is the model introduced by
the Bracks government”:
There are cost implications of this
model. Reducing the threshold and requiring receipts places an
additional burden on not only the smaller parties but also the AEC’s
administrative processes. Hanson was a one-off.

“The manning of polling booths is no longer permitted…”: So we’d just get more junk mail before election day.

“… but each candidate has how to vote cards available in piles
inside the polling station which voters can choose to access if they
wish”:
Yeah. Who chooses where they go? Who chooses which
order they go in? Who makes sure the piles are kept stacked? Who
makes sure piles aren’t stolen? The devil is in the detail.

“The ABC, SBS and commercially licensed television and radio stations
are required to surrender more free air time to the government and
opposition for political statements and advertising during election
campaigns…”:
At which point you immediately antagonise the minor parties who appear to be excluded from this arrangement.

“… and mandated one hour television debates between the two leaders are required on the last two Sundays of each campaign”:
Ditto. Why not the Dems? Why not the Green? Why not
One Nation or the CAC Larouchites or AAFI or the Communist Party of
Australia (Marxist-Leninist)? Why shouldn’t they be involved in
the debates and the free-to-air time as well?

“The one area I haven’t covered is third party spending, a major
feature in America and something that will crop up with spending caps.
A blanket ban might not be workable…”:
“Might not be workable” immediately goes into the finals for Understatement of the Year 2006.

Peter Fray

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