Australia on par with Russia, Turkey on election funds

AUSTRALIA'S rules on using publicly-funded entitlements for election campaigning are lagging behind several comparable democracies, a Transparency International expert says.

A 54-country study, Money, Politics and Transparency, earlier this year gave Australia's rules on the use of state-funded benefits for incumbent politicians the worst rating possible.

It rated Australia's rules on the use of state resources "in favour of or against political parties and individual candidate's campaigns" as 0-24, on a scale of 0-100.

The United States, South Africa and Sweden were rated at 50-74 on the scale; the United Kingdom, Germany and Austria were rated at 75-100.

Countries with the same rating as Australia on that measure included Russia, Pakistan, Botswana, Indonesia, Turkey, Italy, Lebanon, Solomon Islands, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Malaysia.

Transparency International Australia's Alan Wolfe contributed to the report and said some democracies outlawed and many strictly regulated the use of "incumbency benefits" during election campaigns but Australia was lagging behind.

"It's very interesting that some countries you wouldn't expect to have a strong system actually do have some strong aspects - but many of them have been through the worst of times, like scandals or less than democratic regimes," he said.

"For me, there's two issues, one is that the caretaker provisions aren't legally binding on entitlements, and two, we've got a patchwork of laws that allows a wider set of behaviours than other countries.

"But basically, we sit at about the middle of the pack when it comes to these issues."

- APN Newsdesk