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Democratic Audit Update August 2009

by Democratic Audit Australia

The latest update from the Democratic Audit program at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, on how our democracy is working.


The state of Australian democracy

Dollars and Democracy broadcast

Dollars and Democracy: How Best to Regulate Money in Australian Politics, a seminar sponsored by the Audit, University of Melbourne Social Justice Initiative and the Melbourne Law School, will be broadcast on ABC Radio National’s The National Interest at 6pm on Friday 21 August and noon on Sunday 23 August.

O’Farrell calls for campaign finance reform

The leader of the NSW opposition, Barry O’Farrell, has called for “significant” campaign finance reform, including limits on campaign expenditure for candidates and parties, a cap on the amount individuals can donate in a given year, and a ban on donations from “organisations, unions or corporations”. Read his full article for the Sydney Morning Herald here.

Audit submission to by-election inquiry

The Audit has made a submission to the Parliament of Victoria’s Electoral Matters Committee inquiry into the 2008 Kororoit District by-election. The inquiry is examining allegations that electors were deliberately misled in a pamphlet authorised by the Secretary of the Australian Labor Party, which claimed “A vote for Les Twentyman is a vote for the Liberals”. The Audit’s Brian Costar also gave oral evidence to the committee.

Audit’s Costar on Meet the Press

On Channel Ten’s Meet the Press, the Audit’s Brian Costar discussed cutting the cost of election campaigns, banning corporate party fundraising and improving the disclosure regime for parties and candidates.

NSW privacy law proposal

The New South Wales Law Reform Commission has released a report, Invasion of Privacy, which recommends that “there should be an action for invasion of privacy”. The Commission has also established a blog to canvass opinion on the report. Journalist David Marr was critical of the report in this article for the Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Privacy Foundation responded to critics of the report here.

Killesteyn discusses electoral mechanics

On the twenty-fifth anniversary of the creation of the Australian Electoral Commission, the current commissioner, Ed Killesteyn, discussed potential improvements to electoral enrolment procedures with Peter Mares on ABC Radio National’s The National Interest. A transcript of the interview is available here.

NSW redistribution

Maps of the proposed federal electoral divisions for New South Wales have been released by the Australian Electoral Commission. The abolition of the safe Labor seat of Reid, held by Laurie Ferguson, has been recommended, but the greater impact has been to imperil adjacent Liberal seats – Greenway, Gilmore and Macarthur. For commentary see Phillip Coorey in the Sydney Morning Herald and Antony Green’s Election Blog.

Integrity in Queensland

The premier of Queensland, Anna Bligh, has released a green paper entitled Integrity and Accountability in Queensland, which deals with a range of topics including political donations and fundraising, lobbying, whistleblowing and pecuniary interest registers.

Allowances and staffers

Two updated reports from the Parliamentary Library: Parliamentary Allowances, Salaries of Office and Entitlements, by Deirdre McKeown, Leanne Manthorpe and Cathy Madden, provides relevant data, hyperlinks and documents on the remuneration of Australian federal parliamentarians. It explains the legislative basis, fixing and linking mechanisms for salaries and allowances, and those entitlements that are reported such as travel and electorate allowances. Links to the administering agencies are included for those who wish to read further on these matters. The Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984 Framework and Employment Issues provides comprehensive information on the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984 (Cth) employment framework including recent developments, staff figures, and staffing trends. It also updates and expands a previous Parliamentary Library publication on employment issues associated with the MoPS Act.

Overseas donations

Strong arguments exist for banning overseas donations to political parties, argues the Audit’s Norm Kelly in this article for the Canberra Times, republished on Australian Policy Online.

Public leadership examined

Various Audit members and authors are among the contributors to a recent e-book, Public Leadership: Perspectives and Practices, edited by Paul ‘ t Hart and John Uhr. “This book brings together academics from a broad array of social science disciplines who are interested in contemporary understandings of leadership in the public domain. Their work on political, administrative and civil society leadership represents a stock-take of what we need to know and offers original examples of what we do know about public leadership.”


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Fair and open politicians

I understand I am dreaming but there comes a time when one needs to know there are others who recognise that the politicians have created a second stream of normality that applies to them and although it may be questioned they feel no obligation to answer or justify.

People in general are working hard for an income that allows reasonable living standards. Politicians on the other hand may enter into politics for the betterment of Australia only to find themselves in a system that allows them to live to a different standard than the populous, and begrudgingly, or happily, justify grabbing as much for themselves during their tenure, and even their life when they leave politics.

Others must feel that enough is enough. What to do about it? no idea but would love to participate in trying to level the playing field.

Fiona: Welcome to Webdiary, Joe, and well-made points. By the way, I moved your comment to this thread, which seems a little more appropriate than its original location.

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