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Wednesday, 3 May 1961

Mr STOKES (Maribyrnong) (5:38 AM) . - This section states that a candidate in a Senate election shall not incur or authorize electoral expenses exceeding £500 and a candidate in a House of Representatives election shall not incur or authorize expenses exceeding £250. I have never been able to find out why the sum in the case of a candidate for the Senate should be double the sum in the case of a candidate for the House of Representatives. The only argument that has been advanced in favour of the difference is that members of the Senate are elected for six years and members of the House of Representatives for only three years. I do not know what the procedure is in other States, but I know that in Victoria the cost of printing and circulating the Senate how-to-vote card and the cost of advertising on behalf of the candidates for both the Senate and the House of Representatives is carried by the House of Representatives electoral committee and by the candidates for the House of Representatives. The Senate candidates are not compelled to make, and very rarely do make, any contribution towards the cost of the election campaign, yet under this act they have authority to claim as a deduction from their taxable income a sum of £500 expended in an election year. To me, that is quite wrong.

There has been a great deal of discussion about the amount spent in an election campaign and about members being asked to make a declaration, a false statement in which would render them liable to a charge of perjury, to the effect that they have not spent, and have no knowledge of money being spent on their behalf, in excess of a certain amount. Having done that, quite likely they break the law. I cannot go along with that type of legislation.

Mr Howson - Why do you not move an amendment?

Mr STOKES - I will carry on with my speech. The Minister went to the crux of the matter when he said that if this matter were to be handled correctly, these limitations should be removed. The members of the Opposition do not want that, for the simple reason that if the limitations were removed they would be able to claim only the amount actually expended as a taxation deduction. That is a very fine stopper. I cannot agree with the perpetuation of the present position. Whether we specify £250, £500, £750 or £1,000, that would still be perpetuating a wrong. I can only support the complete removal of it, and I hope that the Minister will give consideration to that.

Mr Whitlam - Before the motion is put. Mr. Chairman, I should like to express the appreciation of my leader and my own appreciation of the help that the Acting Clerk and his staff gave in the preparation of the amendments. They took every care, but, of course, no responsibility.

Question put -

That the new clause proposed to be inserted Whitlam's amendment) be so inserted.

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