Political parties are protecting themselves from the voters

My contribution to the CIS weekly email looks briefly at another aspect of the Queensland campaign finance reforms:

An expensive new public funding scheme will further benefit Labor. Under the system for previous elections, parties were paid according to the number of votes they received. For Queensland Labor, which apart from a brief post-floods boost, has been hovering around a 30% primary vote since mid-2010, pay-per-vote could be very costly. The new system will pay on a sliding scale according to how much parties spend. Regardless of their support, political parties can receive up to $5.3 million in public funding on a $1.8 million campaign investment of their own.

A party that contests all seats can spend $7.1 million. Provided they get at least 4% of the vote, for the first 10% of spending they get 100% reimbursement. For the next 80%, they get 75% reimbursement. And for the last 10% of the cap, they get 50% reimbursement.

Obviously this is much better for the ALP than getting paid per vote. But as the LNP pointed out in parliamentary debate, it is even better for Greens. I have not checked their sums, but in the parliamentary debate LNP members were claiming this could translate into $38 per Green vote, up from $1.64 under the previous pay-per-vote system.

Campaign finance reform is designed to insulate political parties from the political effects of their beliefs and actions – contrary to the previous system that made them accountable for their beliefs and actions.

2 Responses to “Political parties are protecting themselves from the voters

  • 1
    Sanjeev Sabhlok
    May 20th, 2011 18:41

    This is a shameful regression.

    I have been advocating an even more direct payment system (per valid vote) for India, largely based on my understanding of the Australian system (e.g. see http://bfn.sabhlokcity.com/).

    If the link of state funding with votes polled is severed, then incentives will arise that will destroy integrity. Corruption and malfeasance will almost certainly arise.

    This shameful action must be undone as soon as the Liberals come to power in Queensland. It would be useful to embed the vote based system of state funding into the constitution to prevent it from being manipulated in the interest of one or other party through ordinary majority vote

  • 2
    May 23rd, 2011 17:59

    Wow – the ALP’s mates are exploiting taxpayers again. If only they were more focused on flood victims.