Does anybody understand NSW campaign finance law?

I spent part of the day celebrating the founding of NSW politics reading the transcripts from a NSW Legislative Council inquiry into Barry O’Farrell’s proposed amendments to NSW campaign finance law. These amendments would ban people not on the electoral roll from making political donations and count union political campaign expenditure towards the ALP’s campaign spending cap.

While the broad policy goals can be stated simply enough, the detail and its interaction with existing NSW campaign finance law are extremely complex. My submission took much longer than I expected to write, as I worked through various different scenarios and how the actual or proposed laws would apply. Especially if these amendments pass, it would be almost impossible for political activists or NGOs that campaign on poiltical issues to stay within the law without legal training or an extensive background in campaign finance matters. This is a serious problem all in itself, quite aside from the major conceptual flaws behind the whole NSW campaign finance regime.

I’m certainly not alone in thinking it is too complex. Appearing before the inquiry, Professor Anne Twomey from the University of Sydney, a leading scholar in the consitutional aspects of campaign finance law, said:Read More »