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Monday, 16 March 2009
Page: 2696

Dr KELLY (Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Support and Parliamentary Secretary for Water) (6:21 PM) —I thank all members who have contributed to the debate. The Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Political Donations and Other Measures) Bill 2009 will reduce the disclosed threshold from the current CPI-indexed amount of $10,900 to a non-indexed amount of $1,000. This will restore proper public scrutiny to donations of this size. The bill will improve transparency and the funding and disclosure scheme. It will also ensure that the new $1,000 disclosure threshold is not avoided by a person giving multiple amounts below the threshold to the various branches or divisions of the same political party. The bill will treat donations to different branches of a political party as if the donations were given to the same political party.

The second group of measures concerns from whom donations may be received. The bill prohibits the receipt of a gift of foreign property or an anonymous outright gift for some people and entities, while for other people and entities it will be unlawful to receive a gift of foreign property or an anonymous gift if that property is used for political expenditure. In response to a recommendation from the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, the government amended the 2008 bill to allow low-level anonymous donations—that is, anonymous donations of $50 or less—to continue where they are received through fundraising activities or events.

Finally, the bill seeks to prevent the possibility that some candidates and other groups may obtain a windfall payment of election funding by tying electoral funding to the actual electoral expenditure incurred. I commend the bill to the House.

Question put:

That this bill be now read a second time.