Why a major party candidate refused Simon Holmes a Court’s cash

Sydney Morning Herald: 1 Oct 2022

She explained that, as a candidate running in a seat the party considered unwinnable, she would receive a box of T-shirts, a few hundred corflute signs to put up around the electorate, and several cartons of how-to-vote cards. She wouldn’t be given a single helper from head office for the campaign and therefore was her own campaign manager. The party’s investment in the seat was well less than $10,000, maybe even half that.

Of course, on polling day the party’s rank and file would still hand out how-to-vote cards, and the candidate was running under the party’s well-established brand. In the final wash-up, she won more than 25,000 primary votes and helped bring in almost as many for the party in the Senate. In 2019, the AEC paid out $2.76 per primary vote in public funding. (Since the funding can only be paid after the final vote tallies are known, the money is only useful for paying back debts or paying for future campaigns.) So on a very modest direct investment, the party “earned” approximately $140,000 in public funding from the particular seat I was watching. In this manner, established parties leverage their strong brands to “harvest” healthy profits from non-priority electorates, adding to the war chests they need for future contests in target seats.

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