Questions have been asked by the Daily Telegraph about our recent community focused fundraising campaign. I was unable to respond by their deadline and the Daily Telegraph published its article without my response on 31 May, page 13. I thought it might be useful, for the record, to set out the responses I would have given.
QUESTION 1: You have said you would like your campaign to be funded locally - are you ruling out accepting any funds from Climate 200 in your current campaign?
ANSWER 1: No. I’m committed to breaking the hold that huge single donors - like big business and unions - have over policy making, largely due to the way Australia currently allows financing of political campaigns. A preference for local community funding is not “ruling out” anything.
With respect to Climate 200, it is a crowd sourcing platform for people that wish to improve integrity, climate action, respect for women through electing qualified community independents to the federal parliament. Climate 200 donors are based all over Australia, including here in Bradfield.
QUESTION 2. How much money have you currently raised and what is your target? $300 x 2000 people is $600,000. That is a lot of money for a campaign.
ANSWER 2: Our target is aspirational. Fundraising has been slow but increasing in pace. $300 is a lot of money, and we point out other ways that people can contribute to the campaign including letterbox dropping whilst walking the dog. In the absence of spending caps in federal elections, political campaigns are likely to get more and more expensive, accordingly our target of $600,000 is ambitious and aspirational.
It would be interesting to know what the major parties spend on a per electorate basis, but that figure is not disclosed. It has been reported, though, that “the total hidden money (received by political parties) identified over the period 1998/99 – 20221/22 (amounts) to $1.53 billion.” THAT is a lot of money.
We make disclosures as required by the AEC, in the timely fashion and in the manner they require. That information will be published on their transparency register, just as it is for all “disclosure entities” (which is the term they use).
QUESTION 3. Do you think it is appropriate to ask people to fund a campaign two years out of a federal election especially during a cost-of-living crisis?
ANSWER 3: Fortunately, or unfortunately, our system is such that political campaigns are not publicly funded. One effect of this is that parties and those who wish to participate in our democracy without a party (like me), must be fundraising all the time. Campaigns require a range of resources including financial resources to cover insurance, financial and legal services, and printing costs to be met. This is not a system that I think is fair or equitable, but it is the system Australia has and it’s why we see the major parties continuing to fundraise between elections, even in these challenging economic times.