The NSW Labor government is currently using the cover of supposed “campaign finance reform” to rig the public funding system to give more money to major parties and radically cut the funding to smaller parties.
Last Tuesday, Keneally announced that she would be proposing campaign funding reform legislation before the impending state election. While the details were vague, they included a cap on donations of $5000 and a cap on spending of $100,000 per electorate. Pretty weak, but a step in the right direction.
Hidden in her plans was a vague reference to plans for a “tiered” funding system.
A Sydney Morning Herald article on Saturday revealed that this plan is to fund a proportion of each’s candidate’s expenditure, with a greater proportion for candidates receiving a higher vote. This scheme would massively increase funding to major parties, while slashing it for smaller parties, and forcing political parties, particularly smaller parties, to rely on even more donations to supplement the limited public funding.
In addition, it’s now been revealed that the Keneally government also plans to introduce a new scheme for funding of administrative party activities outside of election periods.
In New South Wales we currently have the “Political Education Fund”, which gives funding to all parliamentary parties for non-election work outside of election periods, based on the number of Legislative Assembly votes received at the last election. While it is meant to be spent on ‘political education’, all parties use much of their funding for general costs of running a party outside of campaigns.
The new administrative scheme would be based on the number of Members of Parliament each party has elected. It doesn’t need to be said that this would also massively assist the major parties, due to the current electoral system disadvantaging smaller parties by locking them out of the Legislative Assembly. It doesn’t seem clear to my why a party with more Members of Parliament, with all the extra resources that provides, needs a disproportionately greater amount of public funding to run their party.