The election funding scheme established under Part XX of the Act appropriates public moneys to help fund the election campaigns of parties and independent candidates.
$38.6 million in election funding was paid to parties and candidates for the 2001 election.
Individual House of Representatives and Senate candidates receiving 4% or more of formal first preference votes in an electorate in a Federal election or by-election are entitled to public election funding. For Senate groups, the group as a whole must win at least 4% of formal first preference votes in their State or Territory in order to be eligible for public funding.
Election funding is normally paid to the agent of a State or Territory branch of a party or parties that endorsed a candidate or Senate group. It is paid to the agent of the candidate or Senate group in the case of independent candidates or groups. A candidate who does not appoint an agent is deemed to be their own agent for these purposes.
The funding entitlement is calculated by multiplying the number of formal first preference votes received by a funding rate. This rate is reviewed each six months in line with increases in the consumer price index.
For the period July-December 2001, and hence for the 2001 election, the rate was 179.026 cents per eligible vote. This compares to 162.210 cents per eligible vote at the 1998 election.
Details of the 2001 election funding payments made are at Appendix 1.
A total of $38 559 409.33 was paid in separate payments of $35.69 million and $2.9 million. This reflects the requirements of the Act that at least 95% of the funding entitlement is to be paid in the fourth week after polling day on the basis of votes counted as at the 20th day after polling day. The balance is paid when vote counting is finalised and verified, and the full entitlement is known.
Figure 1 provides a summary of the growth of funding payments since the scheme was introduced in 1984. The significant increase in payments at the 1996 election reflected changes made to the base rate of payment by the Parliament.
Figure 2 provides a summary of the allocation of election funding for the 2001 election. This highlights the proportion of funding going to the major parties, consistent with their proportion of the overall vote.
|Labor Party||$14 917 024.57|
|Liberal Party||$14 492 349.83|
|National Party||$2 845 193.98|
|Democrats||$2 411 689.69|
|One Nation||$1 709 752.00|
|Greens||$1 593 863.09|
|Total||$38 559 409.33|
The AEC issued a Media Release when each payment was made. These attracted press coverage, some of a critical bent. In particular, there was comment about the party receiving the most election funding not being the party that won the election.
There were also questions about the equity of a scheme that provides automatic entitlement regardless of expenditure incurred.
Parties and their branches may re-direct their funding entitlements pursuant to funding agreement arrangements advised to the AEC. In particular, the Australian Labor Party directed that all payments due to State or Territory branches be made to the National Secretariat.
The Liberal and National Parties in NSW and Victoria, and the Labor and Country Labor Parties in NSW ran joint Senate tickets. Where requested, payments in respect of those Senate groups were divided between the parties on a basis agreed by the parties.