MAV calls for review of council campaign fund declaration

CAMPAIGN funding for local government elections could face a state government review.

It follows the release of all nine Ballarat City councillors’ campaign funding returns yesterday which showed two councillors had donations of more than $500 to declare.

Greens endorsed councillor Belinda Coates received $8844.76 while Des Hudson gave in two returns which totalled $6450.

Every councillor must declare any donations more than $500 but the Municipal Association of Victoria has asked for a government inquiry into the October elections, with campaign funding a particularly hot topic.

MAV chief executive officer Rob Spence said yesterday he “absolutely understood” the community’s views about who is funding election campaigns.

“We have asked the state government for a review of the whole election,” Mr Spence said.

“One of the issues to come to the surface is campaign funding, which is a particularly hot topic in Melbourne.

“Who is funding these people is something the community wants to know before the election, rather than after the election.”

Cr Coates said she would like to see the $500 threshold changed.

“The problem with the way the rules are now is that only donations over $500 need to be declared,” Cr Coates said.

“Anything that improves transparency would be good.”

Cr Coates said all her campaign funding was given directly to the Greens and the money was allocated by her branch so she didn’t know where the funds had come from.

Cr Hudson said campaign costs had increased over time.

“It’s no longer just black and white A4 handouts but corflutes and glossy brochures,” Cr Hudson said.

“And I’m perfectly comfortable in declaring my returns in line with the Local Government Act.

“It’s there and it’s on the record.”

Cr Vicki Coltman, who said her campaign was completely self-funded, is a Liberal Party member but said they did not endorse council candidates.

All the other councillors, mayor John Burt, Cr Samantha McIntosh, Cr Joshua Morris, Cr Amy Johnson, Cr John Philips and Cr Peter Innes, have all previously said their campaigns were not funded by any political party donations.

fiona.henderson@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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