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Thursday, 15 November 2018
Page: 8413


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and the Public Service, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (17:07): I thank Senator Hanson for that question. Public funding entitlements have not changed under this bill. Public funding will continue to be payable in relation to candidates that receive at least four per cent of formal first preference votes and will be calculated in the same way. What has changed is the process. To assist less well financed candidates and to minimise red tape, the first $10,000 of funding will continue to be paid automatically shortly after polling day. A claim setting out electoral expenditure will need to be submitted for more than the first $10,000 to be paid. The amount of public election funding paid will be capped at the amount of electoral expenditure specified in the claim. Claimants must keep records of claimed electoral expenditure for five years after polling day. Records are likely to be receipts and invoices in most instances. In examining claims, the Australian Electoral Commission will be checking that claimed electoral expenditure is accurate and unique. In other words, no double-dipping by claiming the same expense in different claims, for example for different states, or claiming fictional expenditure. Like the way the tax office checks for fraud in claimed tax credits, the Australian Electoral Commission will have flexibility in determining what they need to do to conduct this check at any particular time. This flexibility allows them to minimise red tape. For example, if the Australian Electoral Commission determines there is a high risk that claims will be inaccurate, they might require that all receipts are submitted with the claim. Or they might decide to randomly select claims for audit and ask to see selected claimants' receipts. If they determine there is a low risk of fraudulent claims at a particular time or for a particular type of claimant, they might not ask to see proof of electoral expenditure at all. As the Senate is well aware, the Australian Electoral Commission of course is an independent statutory organisation which acts in an entirely non-partisan fashion.