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Election Finance in New South Wales

Election Finance in New South Wales

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In 1981, New South Wales became the first Australian state to introduce legislation specific to campaign finance reform. The Election Funding Act introduced both public funding of election campaigns and compulsory disclosure of political donations and has been far more successful in the former than the latter. This book will show that disclosure of campaign contributions remains very partial and, essentially, voluntary. Since legislation was enacted, four parliamentary committees have examined the campaign finance system. These committees achieved only some of the outcomes suggested by the parliamentary reform procedure as a potentially creative and constructive aspect of the legislature. Instead, they were hampered by narrowly worded terms of reference, political ambition and partisan agendas. As far as the Election Funding Authority is concerned, the body created by the NSW legislation to administer the distribution of public funds and monitor political donations, it has been marred by an extraordinary degree of institutional passivity, ritualism and ineffectiveness. The New South Wales Act has been an effective mechanism for providing public finance for political parties, but much less effective in providing transparency of political funding.