Topic: How effective are the New South Wales election spending limits in preventing election 'arms races'? A preliminary inquiry.

Presenter: Dr Joo-Cheong Tham - University of Melbourne & Dr Malcolm Anderson - University of Melbourne

A key 'menu' item for campaign finance reformers is the conviction that spending limits, effectively enforced, and fairly set, will enhance fairness in elections. The design of election spending limits, ideally, should ensure easier and inexpensive access for new entrants onto the political stage, an entrée that enables a wider cross-section of aspirants hitherto excluded, to win a voice in parliaments. In addition, election expenditure limits relieve major parties of the necessities of finding exorbitant (and escalating) levels of cash to compete. And finally, capping the amount parties can spend implies there will be less need to raise substantial amounts from interests which may expect - or be seen to expect - favour or partiality for their largesse.

In this paper we examine disclosed financial data by all parties in three New South Wales elections (1999 to 2007) in the light of a recent escalating election spending frenzy. We consider what election dynamics might be found to provide explanation of the 'arms race' between the major contenders in that state before expenditure limits existed. And finally we examine the details of the 2010 legislation, and speculate on its implications for various parties in future NSW electoral contests. 

This seminar is presented by the TC Beirne School of Law Research Seminar Series, and the Centre for Public, International and Comparative Law. 

All welcome, no RSVP required. 

Contact: Beth Williams, ph: 334 69350, email:

About Research Seminar Series

The UQ Law Research Seminar Series provides an opportunity to explore and critically discuss legal and interdisciplinary issues in an academic environment. The seminars are an integral part of the School’s research culture.

For further enquiries about this Seminar Series or if you are interested in presenting a seminar, please contact the Research Office (

You may also be interested in related seminar series:

To receive notice of upcoming seminars and other law school news, please subscribe to the School’s E-Newsletter.


Sir Samuel Griffith Room, 1-W341, Forgan Smith Building