Regulating the funding of NSW local government election campaigns

6 Dec 2010

This report provides a comprehensive assessment of the funding of New South Wales local government election campaigns and makes a series of recommendations for change.

The report examines the distinctive structure of NSW local government and its electoral system, the regulation and patterns of election funding at this level of government, the risks posed by such funding, and the question of reform.

It makes ten recommendations. In order to deal with the more significant risk of corruption and undue influence, it recommends:

• pre-election disclosure obligations;
• limits on political donations;
• disclosure of all political donations received by councillors above a nominal amount;
• the recusal of councillors when significant political donations have been received by the councillor/s or his or her political party.
In order to deal with the challenge of promoting fairness in local government elections, it recommends caps on election spending set at a much lower level than those enacted by the Act covering state elections, with the level of caps determined according to the number of electors to take into account the distinctive character of the NSW local government electoral system. It, however, recommends against the introduction of public funding for NSW local government election campaigns, arguing that there is no demonstrated case for such funding.

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