Modia Minotaur

Trawling the airwaves to spare you the agony!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

$150,000 For More Pollie Waffle

I must admit I'm one of the few people who actually enjoys getting mail from local MPs, but I imagine I'm in the minority. Admittedly, the pollie newsletter can be glossy and without substance - some would even argue that they help MPs abrogate their responsibility to spend more face-to-face time directly addressing their constituents.

However, funding for constituent communications undoubtedly does one thing very well: help incumbents stay in power. It is very difficult for a challenger to elevate their profile without such benefits. Imagine the task facing whoever challenges Clover Moore for the seat of Bligh in the next election, given that Moore has both the resources of the City of Sydney Council and her benefits as a sitting member in the State Parliament to fund promotion of herself.

Previously, the Federal mailing allowance stood at $125,000 - which is a lot of money. On the other hand, I know that a single mailout, including postage and colour printing, can cost as much as $20,000. This would give a politician the capacity for roughly 6 major mailouts per year - enough for a quarterly newsletter and a few other pieces. Looking at it that way, it doesn't seem enormously unreasonable.

However, enter new laws, which raise the allowance to $150,000 and make an important change. Previously the allowance could not be rolled over from year to year. This rule has been abolished. Thus, a pollie can now hoard away a large proportion of their mailing allowance for three or four years before bombarding their electorate in the lead up to an election. And speaking of elections, this money can reportedly now be used to fund the production of How to Vote cards.

On one hand, this may lead to a welcome revival of grassroots campaigning - returning to the simple but effective methods of door-knocking and public meetings which ensure people really do get to know their candidate. On the other hand, the person who attempts to run against a sitting member and already faces a range of out-of-pocket expenses, is now playing on a hopelessly hilly playing field.


At 10:56 am, Anonymous Guy said...

Geez I'd love to see Labor have a red hot go at the government on this.

At 9:54 am, Blogger Minotaur said...

I've since discovered that the $150,000 does not include postage, which is a sizable cost.

This is likely to see more expensive targeted mailouts, like the one a certain NSW Shadow Minister recently distributed.

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