Newcastle candidates: what their campaigns cost

Jaimie Abbott – Liberals Sharyn Claydon – ALP

Michael Osborne – The Greens

THEY were unprecedented campaigns for federal Hunter seats, rumoured to have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for some candidates.

But according to Australian Electoral Commission returns released yesterday, the war for voters’ hearts and minds didn’t cost many of the major party candidates a cent in the critical final weeks of last year’s federal campaign.

Candidate returns published yesterday showed, for example, that Liberal candidate Jaimie Abbott spent $850 on publishing advertisements in her campaign for the seat of Newcastle between the issuing of the writs on August5 and the September 7 poll.

Miss Abbott’s return, signed by then NSW Liberal Party director Mark Neeham, records ‘‘nil’’ for donations made directly to her campaign.

Her successful Labor rival, Sharon Claydon, didn’t receive any donations or spend any money on advertisements or election material either, according to her return.

Yet Palmer United Party candidate Yegon Dally McLellan reported spending $4312 on campaign material, $733 on publishing advertisements, and $407 on broadcast advertisements.

Greens candidate Michael Osborne’s return had no spending or donations to declare.

Election returns for parties are due to be released in February.

Mr Osborne said the disclosure requirements needed to be made more transparent.

‘‘Personally I’d like to see all the donations made public before the election so voters know who is supporting candidates,’’ he said.

The seat of Newcastle attracted an unprecedented campaign from the Liberal Party.

Mr Osborne estimated the Greens spent $20,000 on his campaign.

‘‘I think Jaimie would have easily spent 10 times that,’’ he said.

Ms Abbott said she did not know how much the campaign cost, but ‘‘that would be covered in the party’s return’’.

She had spent her savings from her posting in Afghanistan with the Defence Force and had been unemployed for months while she campaigned.

‘‘If you’re serious about campaigning you’ve got to attend every business lunch, every public function you can,’’ she said.

‘‘That’s money I won’t get back.’’

The seat of Hunter was the scene of another major campaign between Labor and the Nationals.

But neither MP Joel Fitzgibbon (Labor) or Michael Johnsen (National Party) spent or received a cent in the relevant periods, according to their returns.

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