ALTHOUGH they “invested” thousands of dollars on their election campaigns, six of the nine failed candidates for Flinders have been repaid more than $10,000 by the Australian Electoral Commission and may have more to come.
The AEC automatically pays more than $2 a vote to candidates who receive more than 4% of the primary vote.
Candidates can also claim the same amount of money a vote over the minimum 4% by claiming against their campaign costs.
The money is paid by the AEC to registered political parties and to candidates standing as independents.
Mornington Peninsula Shire councillor Despi O’Connor who, as an independent candidate for Flinders received 7.24% of the primary vote, was eligible to automatically receive $10,656 from the AEC.
She can also claim $2.914 for each vote over that nominal 4%, almost doubling the automatic payment.
O’Connor, who was also paid $12,000 of her council allowance while campaigning, said she will be working with her volunteer bookkeeper “to determine what I need to claim” (“O’Connor to donate council election ‘pay’” The News 21/6/22).
The other independent candidate for Flinders, Voices of Mornington Peninsula-endorsed Sarah Russell, said she had submitted a claim for an extra $4465, bringing her total AEC payment to $15,121.
Nearly $7000 would be reimbursed to one of her supporters who paid for three trucks promoting her campaign.
Russell said she had put $10,000 into her campaign fund but did not intend to claim it back and would add any further refund to a “kitty” to start up a community project, including a website.
The “community matters” project would be able to “start immediately” with the $8300 remainder of the AEC payments.
The results for Flinders as recorded by the AEC show six of the 10 Flinders candidates attracted more than four per cent of the 104,589 votes cast.
The highest number of first preference votes, 43,013 (43.9%), assured the election of Liberal Zoe McKenzie. Labor’s Surbhi Snowball received 21,487 votes (21.73%), followed by The Greens Colin Lane, 9293 votes (9.4%), independent Despi O’Connor, 7163 (7.24%), independent Sarah Russell, 5189 (5.25%) and United Australia Party’s Alex Van Der End, 4472 (4.52%).
Candidates who failed to make the required 4% to obtain a payment from the AEC were Cyndi Marr, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation (3.42%), Chrysten Abraham, Liberal Democrats (2.39%), Pamela Engelander, Animal Justice Party (2.08%) and Earl Jefferson, Australian Federation Party (0.49%).
On a two-candidate preferred basis, McKenzie received 56.7% of the vote with Snowball getting 43.3%.
McKenzie’s win showed a small swing to the Liberal party in the seat of Flinders which had been held by Liberal Greg Hunt for the previous 21 years.
For details about election finance go to: aec.gov.au/Parties_and_Representatives/public_funding/files/election-funding-guide.pdf