Canning byelection: political parties reap cash bonanza

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) released figures last week detailing the extent of taxpayer funding for the Liberal, Labor and Green campaigns in last month’s Canning byelection.

Almost $200,000 was paid to the three parties, equalling $2.60 for every vote cast. According to the AEC, the Liberal Party would be paid $103,014.91, the Labor Party, $78,070.53 and the Greens, $12,884.65.

Candidates or parties that polled less than four per cent of the vote would not be entitled to taxpayer election funding, a spokesperson for the AEC said.

Former candidate for the Australian Defence Veterans Party, Greg Smith, said it was disappointing minor party candidates didn’t have access to public funding, especially given the cost of nominating was in excess of $2000.

“We beat at least two established parties with senators, Family First and Lib Democrats,” he said.

“Major parties, who have the cash to run big campaigns, end up getting the money back. Democracy is the poorer (literally) for it.

“We really have a screwed-up system.”

A spokesman for the AEC did not explain why candidates who polled less than four per cent of the vote were not entitled to taxpayer funding.

“You will have to draw your own conclusions as to the rationale for this provision in the Act,” the spokesman said.

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