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New federal election caps will increase print spending

Friday, 28 February 2003
By Print 21 Online Article

Following complaints that some politicians over did their unlimited printing subsidies during the 2001 federal election campaign, Special Minister of State Eric Abetz brought in new rules that limit the amount a federal politician can spend on printing to $125,000 per year. However, according to Martin Ferguson, Labor frontbencher, this will mean that more money, not less, will be spent on printing in future elections.

“The set limit for printing now encourages every MP to freely spend up to $125,000, whereas before there was an unwritten rule when it was not capped that you shouldn’t rort the system,” said Ferguson.

In a move that, while it may resonate with taxpayers is unlikely to win him many friends in the printing industry, Ferguson claimed that Government MPs in marginal seats spent 10 times the average of just $37,000. He produced figures to show that WA Liberal Barry Haase topped the list with a total spend of $416,000, closely followed by Queensland Liberals Peter Slipper, Alex Somlyay and Gary Hardgrave with $355,000, $342,000 and $325,000 respectively worth of printing.

Part of Ferguson’s ire can be traced to the leaking of the figures for the highest print-spending Labor MP, Bob Horne, “who lost his seat after details of his comparatively modest printing bill were conveniently leaked just before the 2001 election.

“The public is entitled to ask how Mr Horne’s $211,000 bill was made public, while the details of 13 Liberal and National Party MPs with far higher bills remained under wraps until after the election,” said Ferguson in a press release.

In a move that may stand as testament to the effectiveness of printing as an election tool, Government MPs occupy 24 of the 28 highest spenders on the list, including all but one of the 18 MPs with a printing bill in excess of $200,000. In total, Government MPs in marginal seats spent more than $5.8 million on printing in 2001, or more than one quarter of the total printing expenditure.

Coalition MPs spent an average $129,000 in 2001 compared with $62,150 spent by Labor MPs on newsletters and stationery. The new rules also allow MPs to more easily specify full colour printing and better quality stock, so we should see a lot better produced electioneering fliers next time around.

The “honours” list of the top print spenders –

$167,737.11

MP PARTY EXPENDITURE
Barry Haase Liberal WA $416,121.93
Peter Slipper Liberal QLD $355,459.19
Alex Somlyay Liberal QLD $342,985.96
Gary Hardgrave Liberal NSW $325,541.36
Ross Camerson Liberal WA $286,256.64
Margaret May Liberal QLD $283,057.60
Peter Lindsay Liberal QLD $279,794.39
Kay Elson Liberal WA $246,094.24
Phillip Barres Liberal VIC $244,660.05
Jackie Kelly Liberal NSW $240,785.32
De-Anne Kelly National QLD $238,758.27
Joanna Gash Liberal NSW $230,072.13
Bronwyn Bishop Liberal NSW $216,074.25
Bob Horne Labor NSW $211,872.90
Fran Bailey Liberal VIC $211,407.07
Alan Cadman Liberal NSW $211,167.61
Teresa Gambaro Liberal QLD $209,722.25
Kevin Andrews Liberal WA $203,543.09
Alexander Downer Liberal SA $198,033.05
John Murphy Labor NSW $197,919.18
Danna Vale Liberal NSW $196,232.16
Wayne Swan Labor Qld $194,119.71
Cameron Thompson Liberal QLD $193,905.08
Bernie Ripoll Labor NSW $187,716.09
Bruce Billson Liberal VIC $178,619.58
Mal Brough Liberal QLD $175,248.77
Chris Gallus Liberal SA $169,137.47
Christopher Pyne Liberal SA

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