The party's over - Taber calls for overhaul of election funding 'rort'

A FORMER New England political aspirant has called for a radical overhaul of the electoral funding system in the wake of damning allegations at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

TIME FOR CHANGE: Former New England independent candidate Rob Taber has called for a dramatic overhaul of the electoral funding system. Photo: Barry Smith  060514BSA01

TIME FOR CHANGE: Former New England independent candidate Rob Taber has called for a dramatic overhaul of the electoral funding system. Photo: Barry Smith 060514BSA01

Armidale businessman Rob Taber, who garnered more than 35 per cent of the two-candidate preferred vote in the New England at last year’s federal election, said there should be a complete ban on corporate donations to political parties.

Mr Taber claimed the current system, where major parties were able to bankroll campaigns with donations from big business, marginalised independents and smaller parties and opened the door to possible “political favours”.

“Corporate funding is the problem and we need to get common sense back into how we elect our representatives,” Mr Taber said.

“True democracy should be about equality and giving every individual the chance to stand.

“Otherwise, it just means big business can control politics.”

His comments come after explosive revelations at the Independent Commission Against Corruption in recent days about how developers circumvent funding laws to buy influence with politicians.

Mr Taber claims he spent just $50,000 on his campaign as an independent in New England last year – just $5500 of it donated – while Barnaby Joyce and The Nationals spent hundreds of thousands, including a $50,000 donation from mining magnate Gina Rinehart.

He said a new system should be established where all corporate donations were banned and funding would be supplied on a per-vote basis from the state and federal governments.

“We’re seeing a situation now where people like Clive Palmer can buy their way into politics,” Mr Taber said.

“Politics is about individuals, not parties, but the parties are hijacking the system.

“There’s nothing in our constitution that talks about parties.”

But Mr Joyce rejected Mr Taber’s model, saying providing only government money for candidates would still favour the major parties.

“We’d still be getting all the money, because we’re getting the most votes,” Mr Joyce said.

“And what happens when people get absolutely sick of a major party and want to turf them out? They won’t be able to afford to do it, unless they’re a Clive Palmer. If there are business people out there who want to put their hands in their pockets to support a candidate, I’ve got no problem with that.”

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