The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) issued a news release on 8 September 2017 calling for a spending cap by candidates for local government elections (See below).
· OSCAR endorses the LGAQ’s call for caps on council election campaign funding.
· The amounts suggested are far too high however; at that level they encourage large donations from vested interests. OSCAR would suggest limits of $0.50 per voter for mayoral candidates and $0.25 per voter for council candidates, to a maximum of $50,000 for mayoral candidates and $12,500 for council candidates, are much more realistic amounts that better pass the test of fairness, openness and transparency.
· OSCAR believes ratepayers are better served by candidates seeking election, campaigning directly in the community and meeting ratepayers face-to-face rather than conducting expensive, and sometimes remote, media campaigns.
LGAQ proposes limits on council election campaign spending
A system of campaign spending caps for local government elections would help prevent corruption and promote fairer elections, according to the Local Government Association of Queensland.
The LGAQ has written to the Palaszczuk Government and the Queensland Opposition proposing that election spending caps be introduced in time for the next council elections in 2020.
LGAQ chief executive Greg Hallam said such a system would deal with some of the issues covered in the Crime and Corruption Commission’s Operation Belcarra investigation into the conduct of council elections.
“Our position is clear: when it comes to the conduct of candidates in local government elections, whether they are already councillors of seeking to become councillors, transparency is paramount,’’’ he said.
“That is why we have strongly supported the introduction real time disclosure of electoral donations and continue to call on the Government to oblige all council election candidates to disclose their pecuniary interests at the time they nominate.’’
Mr Hallam said the LGAQ believed campaign spending caps were an important further step towards ensuring transparency and accountability in the sector.
Under the LGAQ proposal, an expenditure cap of $2 per voter for mayoral candidates and $1 per voter for council candidates would apply. The proposed rules would also prevent mayoral candidates from spending more than $200,000 and council candidates from spending more than $50,000 on their campaigns.
“We believe this would help prevent corruption and undue influence as it would deal with the demand for campaign funds that drives fund-raising practices,’’ he said.
“Such a system would also reduce or contain the costs of elections, which would make them more competitive and fairer to all who want to run for their local council.”
We look forward to discussing this proposal with the Government and Opposition and would be happy to consider changes to the detail but we firmly believe a system of campaign spending caps is the way to go.”
He said the LGAQ’s proposal, endorsed by its Policy Executive, would not apply to Brisbane City Council elections.