More than $250,000 of taxpayer money is set to be paid out to South West Coast election candidates with most of it benefitting already cashed-up major parties.
Political aspirants who won more than 4 per cent of first preference votes in the 2022 state election are eligible to receive $6.49 per vote from the publicly funded Victorian Electoral Commission.
While candidates' payouts are capped at the amount they spent on their campaign, they can access the full amounts if they choose to run again.
Expenses don't include remuneration for any leave candidates may need to take in order to campaign, which some say gives the incumbent an unfair advantage and keeps good candidates from running for office.
For re-elected Liberal MP Roma Britnell, the figure comes to almost $118,000 while runner-up Kylie Gaston will rake in about $58,000 for the Labor Party.
Both Ms Britnell and Ms Gaston confirmed with The Standard their electoral commission funding was being paid to their parties, not to them individually.
Independent candidate Carol Altmann, who is on track to win almost 15 per cent of the South West Coast vote, is eligible for more than $40,500 from the VEC.
Meanwhile, independent candidate James Purcell can receive more than $16,500 for polling 6.1 per cent of the vote, and Greens candidate Thomas Campbell is set to earn almost $14,000 for his party.
Mr Campbell also said he was not a direct recipient of the VEC funding.
"It will go to the Victorian Greens," he said. "I am not remunerated by the Greens for being a candidate."
Independent candidate Jim Doukas - the only other South West Coast candidate to win more than 4 per cent of the primary vote - could earn about $11,500.
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But Ms Altmann said the electoral commission's funding system unfairly favoured long-established major parties.
"The major parties have such deep pockets to spend on advertising each election as they get it all back again via the taxpayer," she said.
"Under the rules, they can get the money in advance.
"So effectively, the taxpayer subsidises the campaigns of the major parties."
In the lead up to the 2022 state election, advance payments from the VEC of more than $13.5 million were made to the Labor Party's Victorian branch.
Almost $9.7 million was paid out to the Victorian Liberal Party while the Victorian Greens received more than $3.2 million for their state campaign.
While independent candidates can't get the VEC payouts in advance, they can claim back the interest on any loans they take out to fund their campaign.
Ms Altmann also said the $4320 per person political donation cap, which came into effect for the first time this election, was a measure which only benefitted the major parties.
She said there needed to be a cap on money that could be spent on campaigns, to stop major party candidates having access to "millions" every election cycle.
"The big dollars we are talking about here are coming from the public purse," she said.
"(Major party candidates are) not only receiving millions from their party via the election funding model, but can campaign on 'work time', funded by the taxpayer.
"To make the fight fair, there needs to be a better way."
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