My colleagues at Melbourne, Sally Young and Joo-Cheong Tham, have published a new study, Political Finance in Australia: A Skewed and secret system.

From the Executive Summary:

‘This audit directly addresses the controversial role money plays in Australian politics by asking the question: how democratic is the way political parties are funded in Australia?

It identifies two central problems with the funding of Australian political parties: a lack of transparency, with secrecy a hallmark of private funding, political spending and the use of parliamentary entitlements and government resources; and the political inequality that is maintained and perpetuated by Australian political finance. The distribution of private funds favours the Coalition and ALP and so do election funding, parliamentary entitlements and state resources like government advertising. This is especially the case when these parties hold government. The broader picture then is one of institutional rules designed to protect the joint interests of the major parties by arming them with far greater war chests than minor parties and new competitors. While electoral competition exists, it is largely confined to the major parties,with players outside this cartel disabled by financial disadvantages.

To address these problems and other deficiencies, 35 recommendations are made in four areas: private funding, public funding, government advertising and political expenditure.
Important stuff indeed, for anyone who is at all interested in our system of government here in Australia.