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Council election controls should go national

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Peter Andren MP - Independent Member for Calare

22 August 2005

Council election controls should go national

A report on alleged corruption at Tweed Shire Council favours a cap on election campaign spending by candidates and has developers calling for a ban on political donations, according to Peter Andren, Member for Calare.

“Such reforms could and should be applied to all levels of government,” Mr Andren said.

“Tweed Shire Council was sacked earlier this year under a cloud of corruption allegations and Professor Maurice Daly’s report on council’s conduct has recommended full disclosure of candidates’ donations 5 days before an election.

“A developers’ peak body - NSW Urban Taskforce - has called for a complete ban on donations to council candidates to ensure community confidence in local government, which is a strong step in the right direction.

“In his report, Professor Daly also favoured a cap on election campaign spending for every candidate which ‘would reduce the reliance on donations, and hence the potential for corruption.’

“I have proposed a cap of $50,000 per candidate for federal elections to two inquiries, one specifically examining the political donations issue, and the other into the conduct of the 2004 election.

“The cap would level the playing field for all candidates, reduce the increasing expenditure of taxpayers’ funds in elections and help eliminate public perceptions that candidates are for ‘sale’.

“A $50,000 cap would reduce the cost to the taxpayer, as public election funding per candidate would also be capped at his amount, reducing the temptation for candidates to break the limit.

“It’s simple. A cap on spending would automatically put a break on donations.

“It will make it much less appealing for businesses, individuals or other organisations to make large donations to political parties and other candidates whatever their affiliation, and will apply to the campaign as a whole to prohibit third parties from campaigning on a candidate’s behalf.

“Australia’s voters would then be better able to judge candidates’ merits rather than be subjected to high saturation media blitz directed from a party’s national campaign headquarters,” Mr Andren said.

“The parties themselves may also benefit as campaigning is forced back to a grassroots level, helping to return the major parties to the people,” he added.

For further information: Peter Andren - 02 6332 6229 or 0419 612 891/Tim Mahony - 0427 480 825.

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