Skip to content
Government Federal, Political

Reissuing: Incumbent MPs, senators reap millions in election advantages

The Australia Institute 2 mins read

Campaign finance reforms risk hurting democracy by entrenching massive financial advantages enjoyed by sitting MPs and senators unless the right balance is struck, think tank The Australia Institute warns.

New research finds that MPs are entitled to nearly $3 million, and senators more than  $2.6 million, in pay, resources and perks over a three-year election cycle. It has also calculated that the floor for annual pay and perks amounts to $996,381 for MPs and $885,840 for senators.

As a federal parliamentary committee considers election spending and donation caps, The Australia Institute’s Advantages of incumbency report has warned that donation caps, similar to limits put in place in NSW, could make it harder for new entrants at the next federal election.

Key findings include:

- Each election cycle, parliamentarians receive at least $360,000 for office expenses including for communications and constituent outreach, $297,000 for travel and transport, and at least $1.17 million for staff salaries and allowances on top of their own annual wages starting at $217,000.

- Over the last three federal elections, of the 397 incumbents who contested their seats, 40 were unseated (10%), and just 11 (3%) lost to challengers who were independents or from minor parties.

- During the current election cycle, government MPs and senators will be eligible for collective entitlements worth at least $283 million, and opposition MPs and senators $234 million. 

- Meanwhile, collective entitlements for minor party MPs and senators will amount to $53 million and just $35 million for independents

The Australia Institute supports greater and real-time transparency when it comes to political donations, but warns federal reforms cannot simply raise the bar on what are already significant barriers to entry.

“While elected representatives should be adequately resourced to do their jobs, it’s important to ensure a fair fight between incumbents and challengers come election time,” The Australia Institute’s Democracy and Accountability Program director, Bill Browne, said. 

“Competition is always healthy for democracy and we cannot afford to make it even more difficult for new entrants to challenge incumbents.”

While the 2022 election proved a high water mark for new independents and the Greens, just 16 incumbent MPs (12%) lost their seats. 

​​“Sitting parliamentarians rarely lose elections. This is at least in part because of the enormous financial advantages of incumbency, including offices, staff, travel and communications budgets.

“While incumbents have a publicly-funded head-start, challengers rely on donations to fund their election campaigns.

“Everyone should be able to afford a ticket to enter in an election. Any election donation reform should take into account the significant head-start incumbents enjoy over their challengers,” Mr Browne said.

Contact details:

Georgie Moore
Horton Advisory|CBR
0477 779 928


More from this category

  • Environment, Political
  • 05/12/2023
  • 16:30
Monash University

MEDIA CALL – Launch of Climateworks Centre’s latest report

MEDIA CALL8am, WEDNESDAY, 6 DECEMBER WHAT Launch of Climateworks Centre’s latest reportClimate-ready homes: Building the case for a renovation wave in Australia. Coinciding with the Urbanization and Built Environment Day at COP28. Climate-ready homes charts a path for upgrading all low-performing homes, and calls for urgent action from governments and the private sector to start an energy performance renovation wave in Australia. Please note: the report is strictly embargoed to 6am AEDT, 6 December WHO Climateworks Centre CEO Anna Skarbek Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy Senator Jenny McAllister WHEN 8am, Wednesday, 6 December WHERE Dame Dorothy Tangney AlcoveParliament…

  • Political, Union
  • 05/12/2023
  • 14:29
NSW Teachers Federation

Parliamentary report links psychological injury to workload, teacher shortage

The NSW Teachers Federation has strongly endorsed a NSW parliamentary committee’s recognition that crushing workloads are leading to more psychological injuries, as part of recommendations to conduct a forensic investigation into stress-related psychological injuries in education. The recommendation is among 18 produced by the NSW Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice in its2023 Review of the Workers Compensation Scheme. The number of psychological injuries suffered by NSW public school teachers increased from 349 in 2021-22 to 577 in 2022-23. In evidence to the inquiry, the chief executive of the State Insurance Regulatory Authority, Adam Dent, recognised the connection…

  • Games Gaming, Government Federal
  • 04/12/2023
  • 21:45
Alliance for Gambling Reform

Tribute to Peta Murphy, a gambling reform champion

The Alliance for Gambling Reform is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Federal MP for Dunkley Peta Murphy. “We’ve lost a real champion for gambling reform,” the CEO of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Carol Bennett, said. “As the Chair of the Federal Inquiry into online gambling and its impacts on those experiencing gambling harm, her determination to get to the bottom of the critical issues and harm experienced by the community shone through in her questioning of witnesses.” “Her work lead to a significant report with 31 recommendations that if implemented, will arrest the increasingly devastating impact…

Media Outreach made fast, easy, simple.

Feature your press release on Medianet's News Hub every time your distribute with Medianet. Pay per release or save with a subscription.