ACT News


ClubsACT tightlipped on fine for election overspend

ClubsACT chief executive Gwyn Rees is remaining tight-lipped on how the organisation will pay up after the ACT Electoral Commission fined them more than $30,000 for exceeding the election spending cap.

On Thursday, acting ACT Electoral Commissioner Ro Spence confirmed they had fined three third-party campaigners for spending more than $40,000 during October's ACT election.

That included ClubsACT who spent $16,190.20 over the expenditure cap.

All three organisations will have to pay twice the amount by which they overspent the cap to the territory, according to the Electoral Act 1992.

While Mr Rees said it was too early in the process to comment, he said ClubsACT "had the capacity to solve the issue".

The peak body for clubs in the ACT ran into financial trouble after it spent $240,000 fighting Labor's plans to allow poker machines in the casino during last year's election campaign.


The group also donated $185,000 to Richard Farmer's failed election bid.

After ACT Labor's election win, they signed a parliamentary agreement with the Greens that promised further action on poker machines. 

The money was borrowed from its sister organisation in NSW, Clubs NSW. Clubs ACT planned to pay back the loan back by selling its Deakin building, but an offer for the building has fallen through. The loan must be paid off next year.

Last month the group went to the city's big clubs and asked them to pay some of their 2017-18 membership fees early to help pay the debt.

The Labor clubs, the Tradies clubs and the Burns Club disaffiliated from Clubs ACT over the campaign. After the election, the Burns and Woden Tradies came back to the fold, however split off again last month.

The disaffiliated clubs will form their own industry body, chairman of the Woden and Dickson Tradies Dean Hall told Fairfax Media last month. 

ClubsACT was not the only organisation to overspend at the last territory election.

Trades Hall Building Limited expended $41,720.78 or $1720.78 in excess of the allowable limit.

The United Firefighters Union of Australia – ACT branch, overspent the cap by $697.40, reporting a total expenditure of $40,697.40.

An ACT parliamentary enquiry will explore whether the $40,000 cap for third-party campaigners should be raised. It will also look at whether the limits for ungrouped candidates should be set higher.