The NSW Government has missed the opportunity to create greater transparency and fairness in local government election funding, according to the local government sector’s peak body.
Local Government NSW President, Ms Linda Scott, was speaking after the Electoral Funding Bill 2018 was rushed into NSW Parliament, following no prior consultation with local government, on May 23.
If passed, the legislation will create significant disparities between state and local spheres of government, and between council areas.
“Local government supports a move to clearer, cleaner elections at all spheres of government,” Ms Scott said.
“The State Government’s electoral reform is a missed opportunity to create a more transparent, accountable and fair electoral system for local government in NSW.”
Ms Scott queried why there should be any difference in the caps, both in terms of donations and expenditure, for state and local government.
“We want consistency between local and state government,” she said.
“Every sphere of government needs to walk the talk on an open and transparent electoral process, and the State Government’s bill on electoral reform does not do this.
“The Bill creates significant confusion for local government candidates and will result in inequities between state and local candidates across NSW.
“Given third-party expenditure caps have previously been rejected by the High Court on the grounds that they infringe the implied right of political communication, local government is concerned about attempts to reintroduce them.
“Research commissioned by Local Government NSW determined that 70 per cent of respondents expressed trust in local government, compared to just 43 per cent expressing trust in the state sphere,” Ms Scott concluded.
Media release, May 23
Toni Allen, LGNSW