Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Trim cap for contenders, says Brown

Auckland Mayor Len Brown. Sarah Ivey
Auckland Mayor Len Brown. Sarah Ivey

Auckland Mayor Len Brown has called for the $580,000 spending limit for Auckland Council candidates to be reduced before the 2013 elections.

The spending limit for candidates for the Auckland Council is almost nine times more than for the next largest city councils, Christchurch and Wellington, where candidates have a limit of $70,000.

Mr Brown said the Government should change the spending limits while it was tightening up the donation laws.

He said the combined spending limits of the councils which were merged to create the Super City would have been $370,000.

"The current limit of $580,000 ... could mean the election is ... bought by a wealthy candidate."

In 2010 the average amount spent by candidates for the Auckland mayoral race was $77,727 - well above the $12,131 average spent by candidates running for mayor at other city councils. Mr Brown spent $390,761 in the last three months of the campaign, John Banks spent $554,958 and Colin Craig - now Conservative Party leader - spent $569,321.

Candidates for Parliament have spending limits of $25,000 although there are spending limits of more than $2 million for political parties as well.

A spokeswoman for Local Government Minister David Carter said there were no plans to revisit the spending limits as part of changes to the donations rules for local candidates.

Spending limits

Population more than 1 million
* (Auckland City): $579,560
* Population 250,000-999,999 (eg, Wellington, Christchurch): $70,000
* Population 150,000-249,999 (eg, Hamilton): $60,000

Average campaign spending in 2010

In mayoralty contests:
* Auckland Council mayoralty (20 candidates): $77,727
* Len Brown: $390,761
* John Banks: $554,958
* Other city mayors (69): $12,131
* District mayors (171): $5850

For council seats:
* Auckland Council (101): $9631
* Other city councils: $3456
* District councils: $1160.

- NZ Herald

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