$6,000 per month election-year spending limit worse than expected

Tuesday 24 July 2007, 12:25PM
By Mediacom

The Government’s election spending proposals, announced by Justice Minister Mark Burton late yesterday, are worse than expected and will see interest groups restricted to spending less than $6,000 a month to promote their views in election year, the Kyoto Forestry Association (KFA) said today.

KFA spokesman Roger Dickie said it was intolerable that fully transparent organisations such as KFA would be restricted to spending just $60,000 from 1 January 2008 until election day, which could be as late as Saturday 15 November, ten and a half months later.

“The Government has stolen $1.25 billion of Kyoto carbon credits from our members and supporters, causing an environmental and economic catastrophe,” Mr Dickie said.

“We plan to spend a tiny fraction of that, 0.1%, towards highlighting the issue.

“Our campaign will be funded through the $6 per hectare levy we have collected from members and supporters – an amount that is also tiny given that the Government is considering imposing new taxes on some forest owners of as much as $13,000 per hectare.”

Mr Dickie said the proposed $60,000 cap, which is less than $6,000 a month, needed to be seen in the context of some single billboards in prime positions costing as much as $25,000 a month.

“The $60,000 limit over ten and a half months is an attempt by the Government to silence its critics in election year – while no doubt increasing the advertising Budgets of government departments.”

Mr Dickie said KFA would continue to consider whether or not it should defy the Government’s proposed bans – a position which it announced last week – but he said the proposed prison sentences for those who choose to criticise the Government outside the proposed new restrictions made defiance unlikely.

He said KFA had no difficulty with the Government’s proposal that third parties such as KFA would have to disclose donations above $500 but noted the limit was lower than for political parties which could continue to receive anonymous donations to much higher levels.