Media Release - NSW Electoral Reform Fails Fairness Test: Clearer, Cleaner Local Elections are the Goal

The NSW Government has missed the opportunity to create greater transparency and fairness in local government election funding, the local government sector’s peak body said today.

Local Government NSW President Linda Scott was speaking after the Electoral Funding Bill 2018 was rushed into NSW Parliament following no prior consultation with local government.

If passed, the legislation will create significant disparities between state and local spheres of government, and between council areas.

For example, independent candidates in Woollahra will be entitled to spent $4.30 per enrolled elector, whilst independent candidates in Campbelltown will be entitled to spend a mere 33 cents per elector.

“Local government supports a move to clearer, cleaner elections at all spheres of government,” Clr 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.

Clr 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% of respondents expressed trust in local government, compared to just 43% expressing trust in the state sphere.

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