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A cynical law to choke your SFP
      18/01/12 06:16 PM

A cynical law to choke your SFP

Posted on 18 January 2012 by Content Manager

The NSW Government is proposing legislation that will cut off essential funding from smaller political parties, such as the Shooters and Fishers Party. This is an edited version of a speech given today by the Hon. John Tingle to parliament during the public hearing on the Electoral Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Bill 2012.

The NSW Government’s proposed Electoral Funding Bill opens a can of worms and I can’t resist the feeling that can of worms has been opened because, in politics in NSW and other parts of Australia, the political worm – that is, the minor parties, the independents, the newcomers, the interlopers and brash upstarts – has turned and the major parties are feeling the strain.

The current Government has come up with a Bill which, ostensibly, will keep all those worms from escaping the can.

This Bill has been touted by the Government and by the Premier as designed to “rid this state of the risk, reality and perception of corruption and undue influence”.

That, obviously, is a highly desirable and laudable aim – but the big question is whether this Bill actually has the capacity to achieve that end. Is it more likely to succeed than the very stringent reporting and disclosure provisions already in place?

I would suggest this Bill does not have that capacity. It is little more than a fairly clumsy attempt to concentrate political power in a manner which is advantageous to the parties currently in power.

Proposing that political donations should be lawful only if made by an individual who is on an electoral roll is disingenuous, to say the very least. It is one of the major flaws in the legislation and shows a disturbing lack of understanding of the average Australian voter.

All those years of listening, on my radio programs, to people expressing their disinterest – or even their outright contempt – for the political process and politicians in general has convinced me that the average Australian voter is hardly likely to rush off, cheque in hand, to offer individual donations to any politician or party.

Sure, the minority of Australians who are active members of political parties might well put their hands in their pockets. But the individuals who would reach for their cheque books are the people with something to gain by having their particular party – of whatever flavour – in power.

By definition, they are people to whom power is important, and who likely have the power and resources to fund electoral campaigns, either directly or by third-party involvement.

Caps and limitations and aggregation controls would not curtail the activities of those people – there are always ways and means around most laws if you have the money and power.

If this proposal becomes law it will pave the way for elitist government by the few. It would be a mockery of democracy.

There’s an old and cynical saying: “We get the government we deserve. What on earth could we have done to deserve this lot?”

With this law, there would be an answer to that question. And the answer would be, “well, we bought it.”

This sort of legislation is really talking about the size represented by numbers of individuals, and certainly does not achieve the sort of level playing field that a true democracy would be expected to offer to any of its citizens trying to achieve political office.

It is talking about resource, and even a superficial glance at the political playing field would show that the smaller parties do not have the resources of the big parties and must be electorally disadvantaged by a limit on their funding.

Placing a cap on the amount which an individual or a community interest group can expend in support of a political candidate or party works against the smaller parties and may raise constitutional issues.

Support for the Shooters and Fishers Party comes largely from hundreds of small clubs and associations, incorporated and unincorporated, and we believe that they should be allowed to aggregate contributions from their individual members, and then make those donations to the party, or apply them in third-party support activities.

I mentioned before, if you are big enough, powerful enough and sufficiently determined to hold on to power at all costs, you will be able to find a way around a law such as this – in a manner which those with much less power and limited resources will never be able to do. That can lead to government of even more tightly vested interest.

This legislation, far from empowering the individual and inhibiting corruption, has the power to restrict genuine democratic suffrage.

We should be uneasy about the motives behind this Bill. From my party’s point of view, it is a piece of cynical, politically opportunistic legislation aimed at insulating at least one major party against the tide of minor parties and independents, whose increasing numbers in Australian Parliaments must surely indicate that the major parties need to look at their laurels.

Any attempt to knobble the smaller parties underlines their effectiveness and growing appeal to the Australian voter.

The Shooters and Fishers Party does not and will not support this legislation.

The Shooters and Fishers Party sees it as nothing more than a devious, discriminatory and deliberate attempt at a new and highly undesirable form of political gerrymander.

John Tingle is the founder and current Vice Chairman of the Shooters and Fishers Party. He spent more than 11 years as a member of NSW Parliament and 50 years experience in political journalism, including more than a quarter of a century of current affairs and talkback radio and television programs. He believes this experience has given him a clear idea of the attitudes and ideas of ordinary Australians.

John aka NitroX

Govt get out of our lives NOW!
"I love the smell of cordite in the morning."
"A Sharp spear needs no polish"

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Subject Posted by Posted on
* A cynical law to choke your SFP NitroXAdministrator 18/01/12 06:16 PM
. * * Re: A cynical law to choke your SFP kamilaroi   18/01/12 08:12 PM
. * * Re: A cynical law to choke your SFP NitroXAdministrator   18/01/12 08:20 PM
. * * Re: A cynical law to choke your SFP NitroXAdministrator   18/01/12 08:23 PM
. * * Re: A cynical law to choke your SFP kamilaroi   18/01/12 09:44 PM

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