Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 7 Hansard (5 August) . .
However, I think that the proposal to increase the current $2 per vote to $8 per vote is too much of an increase. In the Greens' view, these three key levers need to work together to ensure a suitable outcome. I think that if we were to reduce campaign expenditure caps further this would limit the need for the parties to seek large amounts of money and limit the necessity of a large increase in the amount of public funding of elections.
The proposal will see an increase of around $400,000 currently in public funding spread across the parties to around $1.6 million. If we had lower expenditure caps and a suitable limit on donation caps, I would have been in a position to perhaps support a more modest increase in the level of public funding for elections. My views are elaborated further in the dissenting report.
There are a couple of other minor areas that I draw attention to regarding administrative funding. Administrative funding is currently paid to parties and non-party MLAs to cover the costs of administering the reporting requirements for political expenditure. This was brought in in 2012 as part of the reforms that were done in the last Assembly to enable parties to essentially cover the accounting and bookkeeping administration costs associated with the significant reporting requirements contained in those reforms. It is specifically not to be used for funding of elections.
Currently, the payment made to each MLA is $20,000 per annum and that is indexed. With the proposed 25-member Assembly, this will potentially see a significant increase in funding available to each party, particularly where a party has 10 members, which is plausible under the electoral system that is going to be discussed later today. I think we need to think about how much money a party needs to simply employ a bookkeeper and an accountant. Whether you have six, seven or eight MLAs or whether you have 10 or 12, there is not a lot of incremental increase in the work once the systems are set up and the arrangements are in place.
Therefore, I put forward a proposal that administrative funding for parties be capped at that for five MLAs once the party has five or more eligible MLAs in the Assembly. This would mean that parties would receive in the order of $100,000—a bit more as the indexation increases—and I think this is an adequate sum. If we end up with a situation where a party has 10 or 12 members in the next Assembly, I do not think that $200,000 to $250,000 is necessary for bookkeeping and accounting costs; I think it is a windfall gain. The Assembly should reject that recommendation. I would encourage the Assembly to consider a cap on this expenditure so that we keep it at a reasonable sum to reflect the true costs that are required of the parties to meet these obligations.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Estimates 2014-2015—Select Committee
MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (11.15): Pursuant to order, I present the following report:
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