Monash Council candidates coy on donations

ONLY two candidates from a field of 58 who stood for Monash Council declared that they received donations for last year's campaign.

The Local Government Act requires candidates to disclose campaign donations of $500 or more, but a loophole means that candidates could receive a series of donations under that threshold which do not need to be declared.

"The total's irrelevant," said Rob Spence, chief executive of the Municipal Association of Victoria. "If you had 25 people give you $100 then it's not going to get declared."

Local Government Minister Jeanette Powell last week said candidates who failed to lodge a campaign donation return form risked a $8450 fine.

"The Local Government Act's requirement that campaign donations of $500 or more be publicly disclosed is an important component of conflict of interest provisions that require an elected councillor to step aside from any decision of council that involves a person who made a contribution to their campaign," Mrs Powell said. "The public expect and have the right to know if council candidates received gifts, donations or in-kind assistance."

In Monash, all 58 candidates lodged a returns form. Sithy Marikar said she received $4800 from a fund-raising dinner and Nga Hosking declared she was given $1920 from the Cook Islands Community. But the 56 other candidates, including all 11 Monash councillors, made no disclosures.

Campaign donation statements are but one aspect of the electoral system that is being re-examined by the MAV.

Mr Spence said voters had expressed concerns over a lack of information on candidates, their policies and their political affiliations.

"The message is coming to us that people are finding it difficult to understand who's standing, so that they can make an informed decision," he said.

"Some people have expressed the view to us that if you're a member of a political party, you should tell people, that 150 words is not enough to get information on the individuals.

"Why should the citizen have to hunt [information] out? It should be readily available in some particular space."

comments powered by Disqus

Featured News

Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide