No seat, but Family First paid $400,000
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Written by The Advertiser | Daniel Wills
Thursday, 13 January 2011 11:49
Taxpayers handed Family First $400,000 for its federal campaign despite not winning a seat.
Australian electoral laws return $2.31 a vote in each house to parties who get more than 4 per cent of the overall vote. No restrictions are placed on expenditure.
The system has come under fire from political commentators who said it delivered parties a windfall without demanding increased transparency.
South Australian Family First MP Dennis Hood has also called for reform and branded the public cheque handed to his party "overly generous".
Australian Electoral Commission documents show Family First received $407,268 from taxpayers while the Liberal and Labor parties each scored $21 million cheques.
The unelected Christian Democratic Party, Australian Sex Party, Liberal Democratic Party and Shooters and Fishers Party all received more than $10,000. Independents Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott and Bob Katter also scored significant slices of a $53 million prize pool.
Political commentator Dean Jaensch told The Advertiser public funding was an important part of a functional democracy but voters had a right to demand greater disclosure of how it was spent.
"Having public funding certainly increases the opportunity for minor parties and independents to take part," Dr Jaensch said.
"My problem is that when the public funding was brought in, what was guaranteed was. . . absolute transparency in private money that the parties get and that has not been produced."
Mr Hood, also deputy registered officer of Family First's federal operations, said the cheque would cover roughly half of the costs incurred during the campaign.
The party spent around $700,000 on direct mail and television as well as posters and other publicity, he said.
"There is a place for public funding, but I think it is overly generous,"he said.
"If we look particularly at the major parties and the Greens, we're talking about millions and millions of dollars of taxpayers' money being used to fund their party machines."
Source: Adelaide Now