Councillor donations

money bagsThere has been a call to cap donations for council elections. Currently donations are capped for state elections, but not for council elections.

The issue of election donations is something that needs reform. However, a far broader range of reforms needs to be considered.

One of the illogicalities in the current law is that Councillors do not have to declare donations until AFTER the election. A simple change would be to have a cut-off date for donations BEFORE the election.

There is also a case for donations to be capped. A number of Councillors in the past have run successful campaigns on less than $2,500. Some unsuccessful candidates have spent near $30,000. (However, not all of this has been funded from donations). There is the option in any new law to LIMIT the amount that can be spent on elections (thus allowing a wider cross-section of the community to stand. Such an approach could be accompanied with a CAP on donations.

Another option proposed is that Council elections be publicly funded (like Federal elections). Logically, this should be accompanied by a cap on spending.

A final point is the role that political parties play in the election of Local Government Councillors. The vast majority of Councillors on Willoughby Council in the past have been passionately independent of political parties. Unfortunately, when reform of local government elections is considered its fate will be determined by political parties (to the detriment of true independence)

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