Pauline Hanson’s One Nation might have failed to win a single seat in the Queensland election, but by one measure their campaign was a resounding success – the party will receive more than $1 million in taxpayer funding, up from just $53,033 at the last state poll.
The Queensland Electoral Commission pays registered political parties that poll higher than 6 percent of the first preference vote $3.14 for each vote. According to the current count, One Nation won 318,780 votes. Individual candidates in Queensland are paid $1.57 per vote.
Since 1994 Senator Hanson has contested so many state and federal elections that before last year’s federal election it was estimated she had received $6 million in combined public funding.
Though the funding is meant to cover campaign expenses, parties and individuals are not required to account for how it spent.
The Australian Electoral Commission paid One Nation $1.74 million after last year’s federal election. At the time Ms Hanson said that though it was her policy to end public financing of political parties she would accept the funding. She denied ever personally benefiting from such payments.
Labor can expect to be paid just over $2.6 million in the wake of the Queensland poll, and the Liberal National Party is likely to be paid around $2.45 million.
A spokeswoman for the QEC said the payments are normally made by bank transfer to parties that made their claims within 20 weeks of the election.
In May this year Senator Hanson’s chief of staff, James Ashby, was embarrassed by a leaked recording of him discussing ways the party might profit from the Queensland election by charging candidates inflated prices for printed campaign material.
“We say to the candidates, we will fund 50 per cent of this [printing] package, so the package might be $5,000 — you’re going to pay $2,500 and we’ll pay the other $2,500 of the $5,000,” he can be heard saying in the recording.
“When you lodge the receipt at the full price with the Electoral Commission of Queensland you get back the full amount that’s been issued to you as an invoice.”
He observed that One Nation “had an opportunity … to make some money on this if we play this smart” and says, “I will deny I ever said this.”
Ms Hanson said the idea was never acted upon.
The results of a dozen seats in Queensland remain too close to call and the winners may not be known for days.