Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 10 February 2022) . . Page.. 285 ..
I think the final argument that this motion provides is some insight into Mr Hanson’s own motives. In Mr Hanson’s mind, there always has to be a profit, and here is Mr Hanson trying to argue that a not-for-profit organisation like the ACT Greens is somehow making a profit. It is nonsensical. Unlike the Canberra Liberals, the ACT Greens are proud to be a party that is committed to enhancing Australia’s democratic process and ensuring transparency over funding arrangements, rather than accepting donations from corporations trying to buy influence.
Omit all text after “That this Assembly”, substitute:
“(1) notes that:
(a) prior to the 2012 ACT election, the electoral funding system was overhauled to shift political party income away from corporate donations and, in 2015, a majority of the Assembly agreed to increase public funding to $8 per vote for all elected representatives and parties;
(b) public funding to support different groups to participate in elections enhances democratic engagement; and
(c) a review of the ACT’s Electoral Act and the related funding system is currently underway that has included submissions from a range of stakeholders; and
(2) calls on the Assembly to consider the outcomes of the review of the Electoral Act.”.
MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee—Minister for Skills, Minister for Transport and City Services and Special Minister of State) (4.29): I rise today to speak to Mr Hanson’s motion and indicate that the Labor Party will be supporting Mr Braddock’s amendment to Mr Hanson’s motion. In many respects, the ACT does have a best practice electoral funding system. Our system combines reasonable rates of public funding with strict caps on campaign expenditure, and these measures work together to limit the influence of outside donors and corporate money in the territory’s politics, ensuring that parties do not end up in the kind of fundraising and spending arms race that we see in other jurisdictions.
Public funding of elections and the parties who contest them ensures that there are opportunities for genuine debate and a spectrum of views to be put to the community during campaigns, and that is a good thing which we should seek to preserve as part of a healthy ACT democracy. To the point of Mr Hanson’s original motion, I do think that there are some questions, some genuine issues that have been raised around whether the current system meets community expectations in relation to public funding, where it exceeds expenditure.
I want to particularly highlight something that Mr Hanson did not touch on. Apart from the issue of parties that may receive more public funding than they in fact expend, there is also the issue of independents. I have a particular concern about them because it is quite possible for them to make a personal profit out of running for an election, and I am not sure that that is in line with the objectives of the public funding system.