Media Release: 17th August, 2012: Federal Government’s Electoral Bill anti-competitive, undemocratic and self-seeking

Media Release: 17th August, 2012

Federal Government’s Electoral Bill anti-competitive, undemocratic and self-seeking

The Federal Government is hell-bent on ensuring that the next election will be nothing more than a battle between the two best-funded political parties, say the Australian Democrats.

The Democrat’s National Campaign Director, Darren Churchill, has labelled the Government’s Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Improving Electoral Procedure) Bill 2012 as anything but an improvement.

In a submission on the Bill to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, the Democrats have expressed particular concern about the proposal to double campaign deposits for House of Representatives candidates from $500 to $1000 and for Senate candidates from $1000 to $2000.

“This is undemocratic: democracy and elections should be a contest of ideas, not a battle between the most cashed-up political parties. There is no evidence to suggest that the current deposits are not high enough to deter frivolous candidates, so this move is unnecessary.

“If these amendments are passed the deposits alone for a party to run in all seats across the country in both upper and lower houses would total $182,000 and that’s before the candidates take a step out into their electorates.”

Independents and candidates of unregistered political parties will also be targetted by the Bill – each candidate would be required to find 100 people in their electorate to sign their nomination form.

Mr Churchill said that this is almost guaranteed to produce failures in the nomination process and would be a significant deterrent to standing candidates for small or newly-established parties.

“It is designed to give a head-start to those few political parties that are registered or have representation in parliament, and while the Australian Democrats are a registered party, our view is neither we or any other party should be given an inbuilt advantage like this.

“The real effect of these proposals will be to entrench the two-party system and ensure there is no real challenge to the big boys.

“Australia needs a political system that maximises participation and represents a diversity of views – anything less is not good enough for a democratic system worthy of its name,” said Mr Churchill.

 

DARREN CHURCHILL

National Campaign Director,  Australian Democrats

darren.churchill@democrats.org.au

Tel: 0412 196 473

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