Funding sources still hidden

BENDIGO’S two major party candidates from last year’s election declared no spending on advertisements, mail outs and campaign material, and only $3,600 in donations.

Figures released by the Australian Electoral Commission show ALP member Lisa Chesters declared $3,606 from an undisclosed donor, and nil electoral expenditure.

Ms Chesters said in September she had received donations from two people and two unions.

Liberal candidate Greg Bickley declared no donations and no electoral expenditure, and last year refused to say who had supported him.

Both candidates ran various advertisements, but Mr Bickley had a more intense focus on advertising.  

La Trobe University Bendigo political expert Ian Tulloch said the system needed to be reformed to give a more accurate picture of donations and spending.

“It makes the disclosure rules effectively redundant,” he said.

“Candidates can spend enormous amounts of money through the party on a campaign. You could argue for the need to change the rules so that it's far more transparent with what gets spent in the electorate, even if it’s money spent on their behalf by their own party.

“If candidates and parties can hide the true source of their donations, the system’s obviously not working the way it was set up to work.”

The state Liberal branch received $3 million more in donations than the ALP.

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