NSW Parliament passes historic campaign finance reforms
In an Australian first, the NSW Parliament has passed historic legislation introducing caps on political donations and electoral expenditure.
The NSW Labor Government has supported amendments to the Election Funding and Disclosures Amendment Bill banning donations from tobacco companies and profit-driven liquor or gambling business entities.
The new system will be in place for the March 2011 State election.
“This is historic – these are the biggest changes to our election funding system in almost 30 years,” Premier Kristina Keneally said.
“NSW is the first State in Australia to cap political donations and expenditure.
“We have undertaken discussions with the Opposition, Greens and Crossbench in good faith – and we’ve made substantial changes to the legislation since we made the initial proposal in September. “
The legislation means:
* Political donations from individuals, registered political parties and other entities will be capped at $5,000 to registered political parties or groups and $2,000 to candidates or elected members in a financial year;
* A candidate’s campaign expenditure will be capped at $100,000 per electorate during a regulated period if they are endorsed by a party, or $150,000 if they are not endorsed by a party. (For the 2011 State election, this regulated period will commence on 1 January 2011 and for each election thereafter this regulated period will commence on 1 October in the year prior to the election);
* Expenditure by political parties will be capped at a total of $100,000 multiplied by the number of electorates they contest;
* Within this total cap, expenditure by political parties will be capped at $50,000 per electorate for material that relates to a particular electorate (in addition to each candidate’s expenditure cap);
* Expenditure by political parties contesting only the Legislative Council will be capped at $1.05 million;
* Membership fees will be capped at $2,000 and registered political parties will be prohibited from using them for campaign purposes;
* Affiliation fees will be prohibited from use for campaign purposes;
* A new public funding model will reimburse parties, groups and candidates for actual expenditure on a progressive basis up to their maximum entitlement;
* Third parties may not receive more than $2,000 from each donor in a financial year;
* Third parties may not spend more than $1.05 million where registered by 31 December in the year before an election or $525,000 where registered on or after 1 January in the year of the election.
* Third parties may not spend more than $20,000 per electorate;
* Donors will be limited to no more than three donations of up to $2,000 each to third parties in a financial year.
* Interstate transfers of funds for State election purposes will be subject to the new laws.
* In addition, the Election Funding Authority has been granted increased powers and resources to administer these laws.
* A tiered penalty scheme will apply and powers of the authority will include injunctions and compliance agreements.
* The ban on developer donations will remain in place.
* The new laws will be subject to a statutory review following the 2011 NSW State election.
Tags: labor, labour, nsw labor, nsw government, labor party, political donations, election funding and disclosures amendment bill, march 2011 state election, premier kristina keneally, capped political donations