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Nov 12, 2013

Crueling minor parties, now feds looking at spending

There was a great deal of angst among the traditional ruling parties in Australia after the last federal election owing to the number of seats won by minor party candidates.  Minor or new parties won a senator in each of the six states, causing the Liberals, Labor, Greens, and Xenophon to go into conniptions over the unfairness of it all.
Nick Xenophon seems to be leading the charge on this.  While most people tend to regard Nick as an independent, after getting a quota plus and not getting the preferences to get his running mate elected, he has let his sense of entitlement do the talking and is demanding ‘reform’ to stop the upstarts.  Nick considers himself to be a ruling class party in his own right.
After announcing a private members bill to change the system in order to prevent upstart parties from being represented, he now objects to them spending money not provided by taxpayers on elections: 
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon says Clive Palmer will face formal scrutiny over how much of his own money he spent 'buying' himself a seat in parliament. 
Senator Xenophon has told The Courier-Mail he expects a parliamentary committee on electoral matters to focus some of its attention on the new member for Fairfax. 
'I think it's an issue. Like the Beatles say, money can't buy you love but Clive Palmer proves it can buy you a seat,' he told the paper. 
'I've got concerns (about the amount of money Mr Palmer spent). We need to have a national conversation about reasonable spending.'   Senator Xenophon says he expects the joint standing committee, which has the power to call witnesses, to ask questions about Mr Palmer. 
'I'm sure (Mr Palmer's expenditure) will be talked about in the committee,' he said.There are no caps on how much personal wealth individuals can spend on election campaigns, but the spending must be disclosed. …
The reality is that around 22% of the Australian people voted for parties other than the traditional ruling three plus Xenophon.  The result was that others won a seat in each of the six states by sticking together and preferencing each other before the majors.  This is roughly about the same proportion of seats won by the minors.
Palmer’s United Party won two of those seats.  While Clive spent heavily to achieve this result as well as winning himself a seat in the House of Representatives, all of the others had limited resources and little publicity yet still won seats.  Had Palmer not spent heavily on advertising, his 5% of the vote would not have remained with the ruling class parties, but would have probably have gone to other minor parties.
Taxpayers forked out more than $20 million to the Liberals and Labor, plus more than $5 - 10 million to the Greens in electoral funding after this election.  These parties were able to fight the election on the promise of these funds, on the remains of similar funding from the previous election.
Attempting to prevent private funds being spent for the cause smells of hypocrisy. 

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