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Spending cap leaves Labor sitting pretty

By Graham Young - posted Thursday, 7 November 2019

In Queensland the words "fairer" and "more transparent" come with qualifiers – "to me" and "to no one". That's obvious again from the changes to the electoral funding laws announced by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Justice Minister Yvette D'Ath.

The amount that political parties spend will be capped, as will be the amounts individuals can donate. At the same time public funding will be doubled.

Sounds fair enough until you work out who benefits.


Instead of "tak[ing] money out of politics" it just changes the mix and moves more of the chips to Labor's side of the table.

When caps on political spending are in place – parties work out how to get around them. One strategy is to find allegedly independent front groups and politics gets dirtier and murkier.

We've been here before.

The 2014 Redcliffe by-election was held under similar legislation. The ALP and the LNP spent exactly the same amount, which sounds fair, except that added to the ALP side of the campaign were another six unions and other organisations that all spent the same amount as the ALP.

Under this "fair" system, the LNP was outspent 7 to 1.

Labor's counting on this happening again, and in the same proportions. Under the bill you can donate to a political party, as well as up-to 6 "third parties".


Analysis of the last 12 months of funding disclosures show that they've raised only 60% of what the LNP has – that's $3.2 m to $5.6.

This table lists the amounts raised by each party, and the size of the average donation made per donor in the 12 months between October 2018 and October 2019.

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This article was first published in an edited form in The Courier Mail.

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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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