Mercury (Hobart)

Money-for-votes plan lashed as ‘con’

Poll reforms disgracefu­l, says MP


A PLAN for political parties to be paid for getting votes was a “disgracefu­l con job” on the Tasmanian people, independen­t MP Kristie Johnston says.

The Liberal government has proposed reforms to electoral laws to ban foreign and anonymous donations, improve disclosure of donations and introduce public funding of elections.

But the member for Clark said the Bill was an outrageous raid on the public purse.

“What it proposes to do is to provide $6 for every vote that a candidate receives over and above 4 per cent of the vote,”

Ms Johnston said.

“What that would mean for particular­ly the Liberal government, as we saw for the last election, is that they would receive almost $900,000 worth of public funding just for the privilege of being elected to serve the community.

“That’s a disgrace, an absolute con job on the people of Tasmania and I’m very concerned that what we will see when this Bill is presented to parliament is a nod and a wink between the two major parties and a deal is stitched up where public funding goes into the coffers of party administra­tion.”

She said the gift from the public purse would entrench the incumbent major parties at the expense of smaller parties and newcomers.

Interstate jurisdicti­ons that have adopted public funding for elections have done so to avoid the corrupting influence on donations from special interest groups.

The Liberals faced heavy criticism for their reliance on cash from gambling interests in the 2108 poll, although reforms first promised by then premier Will Hodgman have been slow to materialis­e and Tasmania’s laws on electoral donations remain the weakest in the country.

Greens MP Rosalie Woodruff said her party supported the idea of public funding.

“We are the last state in Australia to introduce the ability for everyone to participat­e in democracy by providing a public payment or return to people who stand for election,” she said. “We strongly support the right of everyone who wants to represent their community in good faith to stand for parliament.

“We believe that unless there’s public funding for elections, and a cap on the amount that candidates can spend, (it) will never increase the diversity in parliament or get a fair playing field in elections.”

Submission­s on the Electoral Disclosure and Funding Bill 2021 and Electoral Matters (Miscellane­ous Amendments) Bill 2021 close at 5pm on Tuesday.

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