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Parliament should counter corporate patronage

8 May 2000

Parliament should counter corporate patronage

Green Party co-leader Rod Donald is urging parliament to face up to the need for adequate state funding of political parties to even-up the electoral playing field.

His call follows revelations that TV3 made election year donations to only National and Labour, with both main parties receiving over $1.6 million each from all sources including private donations and state broadcasting allocations.

"Parliament should counter the imbalance caused by corporate donations going to mainly National and Labour by introducing adequate and equitable state funding for political parties," said Mr Donald.

"In the interests of achieving a healthy democracy I hope the electoral select committee will tackle this issue squarely as part of their review of the last election instead of avoiding it as we did under the last government," he said.

"I know state funding is not popular with the public but the alternative - corporate patronage - is far worse."

The 1986 Royal Commission on the Electoral System recommended direct state funding of registered political parties and independent candidates.

In Australia parties receive around $1.50 per vote providing they reach a qualifying threshold. In some countries the state pays for a mail out to all voters to ensure they are well informed on party policies.

"We already have considerable state funding now through a $2 million state broadcasting allocation for TV and radio. The electronic broadcasting spending regime also needs to be reviewed. At the moment individual candidates can spend up to $20,000 of their own money on their electorate campaign but parties are not allowed to spend one cent of their own money on their national campaign.

"The rules work heavily in favour of the big parties. For example National and Labour received over $600,000 each in 1999, 14 times the Green Party's allocation, yet National only won six times our vote," he said.

"The current rules clearly reinforce the status quo."

Ends

Rod Donald MP: 025 507 183 Jonathan Hill (press secretary) 04 470 6719, 021 110 1133




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