By-election costs‏

Like many members and supporters, Australian Protectionists welcome the departure of Kevin Rudd from the national political scene. The list of failures and long-term damage done to our nation by his government is known to all, not to mention the threat to our national interest and sovereignty posed by his pet project, the Asia Pacific Union — based on the European Union model of integration.

However, it is time to look past the relief and celebration and examine the real cost of Rudd’s departure to the Australian people.

Candidates stand at election time on the understanding that, if elected, they are able to take their place in the national parliament and serve their constituents for the term of that parliament. However, time and again we are witnessing politicians, often those who suddenly find themselves out of the limelight and on the Opposition benches, getting elected by their constituents only to turn around with a bruised ego and decide they “don’t want to play the game anymore”.

This deplorable attitude towards democracy and the Australian constituency is evident on both sides of politics. Former PM Paul Keating showed his true devotion to the nation he reportedly declared to be “the arsehole of the world” by announcing his resignation following the removal of his government from power in 1996. The cost of the by-election to the Australian people amounted to $342,584 (AEC figures).

Again, following the removal of the Liberal government by the “Kevin 07 juggernaut”, we saw former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer decide representing the people of Mayo in SA was nowhere near as glamorous as jet setting and hob-knobbing with world leaders and announcing his resignation from parliament. The cost to the Australian people — $624,466!

We are not insensitive about the issue. Politics can be a stressful occupation and sometimes, for reasons of severe ill health or family trauma, there will be a need for a politician to resign and for the constituents to elect a new member. However, politicians have a responsibility to serve their full term if elected and, if they feel they are unable, they also have a responsibility to not put themselves forward as a candidate at election time.

Considering the lucrative salary, attractive benefits and superannuation our MPs receive, Australians have a right to expect MPs who resign for frivolous reasons (such as bruised ego) to contribute to the cost of a by-election.

When faced with a bill of $650,000, one can imagine we would witness a renewed enthusiasm on the part of our politicians to serve their constituents for a full term.

Costs of elections and referendums”, Australian Electoral Commission [Downer, Mayo, 2008, $624,466; Keating, Blaxland, 1996, $342,584]
List of Australian federal by-elections”, Wikipedia


  1. Sooner will a camel pass through a needles eye than a great man be ‘discovered’. by an election.

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