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Electoral (Greater Fairness of Electoral Processes) Amendment Bill 2007 [2008]

Schedule 3 Amendments relating to electoral funding and disclosure

Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918

1  Subsection 287(1) (definition of gift )

After “or for inadequate consideration”, insert “and includes payments made at fundraising and like events”.

2  After section 297

Insert:

297A   Payment not to be made unless certain conditions met

                   A payment under this Division must not be made in respect of votes given in respect of:

                     (a)  a candidate or candidates endorsed by a registered political party; or

                     (b)  for a Senate election—a group where members of the group were endorsed by one or more registered political parties;

unless the Electoral Commission is satisfied that the constitution of the registered political party complies with the requirements set out in section 129A.

3  Subparagraph 304(5)(b)(ii)

Omit “$10,000 or less”, substitute “less than $200”.

4  Paragraph 304(5)(c)

Omit “$10,000 or less”, substitute “less than $1,000”.

5  Subsection 304(5) (Note)

Repeal the note.

6  Paragraph 304(6)(b)

Omit “exceeds $10,000”, substitute “is equal to or exceeds $200”.

7  Paragraph 304(6)(c)

Omit “exceeds $10,000”, substitute “is equal to or exceeds $1,000”.

8  Subsection 304(6) (Note)

Repeal the note.

9  Subsections 305A(1), (1A), (2), (2A) and (3)

Repeal the subsections, substitute:

             (1)  If a person (other than a registered political party, a State or Territory branch of a registered political party, an associated entity, a candidate in an election or a member of a group) makes a gift during the disclosure period in relation to an election to:

                     (a)  any candidate in an election or a member of a group; or

                     (b)  any person or body (whether incorporated or not) specified by the Electoral Commission by notice in the Gazette ;

the person must, within 15 weeks after the polling day in the election, furnish to the Electoral Commission a return, in an approved form, setting out the required details of all gifts made during the disclosure period.

             (2)  A person need not make a return under subsection (1) if:

                     (a)  the total amount or value of gifts referred to in paragraph (1)(a) was less than the amount prescribed for the purpose of this paragraph or, if no amount is prescribed, $200; and

                     (b)  the total amount or value of gifts referred to in paragraph (1)(b) was less than the amount prescribed for the purpose of this paragraph or, if no amount is prescribed, $1,000.

10  Subsection 305B(1)

Omit “more than $10,000”, substitute “$1,500 or more”.

11  Subsection 305B(1) (Note)

Repeal the note.

12  Subsection 305B(3A)

Omit “more than $10,000”, substitute “$1,500 or more”.

13  Subsection 305B(3A)

Omit “exceeds $10,000”, substitute “is equal to or exceeds $1,000”.

14  Subsection 305B(3A) (Note)

Repeal the note.

15  After section 305B

Insert:

305C   Maximum limit of donations to political parties

             (1)  For the purposes of this Division, it is unlawful for a person or a corporation to make a gift of more than $100,000 in any one financial year to:

                     (a)  the same registered political party in all of its aggregations, entities, branches or other organisational manifestations; or

                     (b)  the same State or Territory branch of a registered political party; or

                     (c)  a candidate in an election; or

                     (d)  a group, society or community organisation affiliated with a candidate or a registered political party or a State or Territory branch of a registered political party.

             (2)  Failure to comply with this section is an offence.

Penalty:  (a) in the case of an individual—500 penalty units; or

              (b) in the case of a body corporate—5000 penalty units.

16  Subsections 306(1) and (2)

Repeal the subsections, substitute:

             (1)  It is unlawful for a registered political party or a State or Territory branch of a registered political party or a person acting on behalf of a registered political party or a State or Territory branch of a registered political party to receive a gift made to or for the benefit of the party or branch by another person, being a gift the amount or value of which i s equal to or exceeds $1,000, unless the name and address of the person making the gift are known to the  person receiving the gift or, at the time when the gift is made, the person making the gift gives to the person receiving the gift his or her name and address and the person receiving the gift has no grounds to believe that the name and address so given are not the true name and address of the person making the gift.

             (2)  It is unlawful for a candidate or a member of a group or a person acting on behalf of a candidate or group to receive a gift made to or for the benefit of the candidate or the group, as the case may be, being a gift the amount or value of which is equal to or exceeds:

                     (a)  in the case of a gift made to a candidate—$200; or

                     (b)  in the case of a gift made to a group—$1,000;

unless the name and address of the person making the gift are known to the person receiving the gift or, at the time when the gift is made, the person making the gift gives to the person receiving the gift his or her name and address and the person receiving the gift has no grounds to believe that the name and address so given are not the true name and address of the person making the gift.

17  After subsection 306(2A)

Insert:

       (2AA)  For the purposes of this section, the amount or value of a gift is taken to be the total amount of all gifts made by a person for the benefit of a party as a whole, whether to national, State or Territory branches of that party.

18  At the end of section 306

Add:

             (6)  It is unlawful for a registered political party or a State or Territory branch of a registered political party or a person acting on behalf of a registered political party or a State or Territory branch of a registered political party to receive a gift of, or of a value of, more than $10,000 made to or for the benefit of the party or branch by a person or a company holding a contract with the Federal or a State or Territory government.

19  Subsection 306A(1)

Omit “more than $10,000”, substitute “$1,500 or more”.

20  Subsection 306A(1) (Note)

Repeal the note.

21  Subsection 306A(2)

Omit “more than $10,000”, substitute “$1,500 or more”.

22  Subsection 306A(2) (Note)

Repeal the note.

23  After section 306A

Insert:

306AA   Donations by media companies prohibited

             (1)  It is unlawful for a registered political party or a State or Territory branch of a registered political party or a person acting on behalf of a registered political party or a State or Territory branch of a registered political party to receive a gift, donation or disposition of property originating by whatever means from a media company.

             (2)  For the purposes of this section, a media company has the same meaning as subclause 4(4) of Schedule 1 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 .

24  Paragraph 306B(a)

Omit “exceeds $10,000”, substitute “is equal to or exceeds $1,000”.

25  Section 306B (Note 3)

Repeal the note.

26  After section 306B

Insert:

306C   Foreign donations prohibited

It is unlawful for a registered political party or a State or Territory branch of a registered political party or a person acting on behalf of a registered political party or a State or Territory branch of a registered political party to receive a foreign gift, donation or disposition of property originating by whatever means from a foreign source.

306D   Forfeiture of foreign donations

For the avoidance of doubt, where a foreign gift, donation or disposition of property is made to a registered political party or a State or Territory branch of a registered political party or a person acting on behalf of a registered political party or a State or Territory branch of a registered political party, the foreign gift, donation or disposition of property is presumed to be in breach of to section 306C and is to be dealt with accordingly.

306E   Donations by non-citizens resident in Australia lawful

A donation, gift or disposition of property in Australia to a registered political party by a person who is a non-citizen resident in Australia is not a foreign donation for the purposes of section 306C or 306D.

306F   Donations by Australians living abroad lawful

A donation, gift or disposition of property by a person registered on a Commonwealth Electoral Roll living overseas is not a foreign donation for the purposes of section 306C or 306D.

306G   Donations with strings attached prohibited

             (1)  It is unlawful for a person to make a donation to a registered political party or a State or Territory branch of a registered political party or a person acting on behalf of a registered political party or a State or Territory branch of a registered political party with the intention of obtaining undue access to a government or influencing a specific policy or political party in an improper manner.

Penalty:  (a) In the case of an individual—500 penalty units; or

              (b) in the case of a body corporate—5000 penalty units.

(2)     For the purposes of this section, a person obtains undue access where the person engages in conduct which would amount to a serious Commonwealth offence in accordance with the Crimes Act 1914 .

Note 1:       Engage in conduct is defined in section 15HA of the Crimes Act 1914 .

Note 2:       A serious Commonwealth offence is defined in section 15HB of the Crimes Act 1914 and includes extortion, money laundering, perverting the course of justice, bribery or corruption.

27  Subsection 311A(2)

Omit “$10,000 or less”, substitute “less than $1,500”.

28  Subsection 311A(2) (Note)

Repeal the note.

29  At the end of subsection 314AB(2)

Add:

                   ; (d)  the total amount of actual expenditure by or on behalf of the party for electioneering during the period commencing with the issue of the writs for an election and concluding with the closing of the poll.

30  Subsection 314AC(1)

Omit “more than $10,000”, substitute “$1,500 or more”.

31  Subsection 314AC(1) (Note)

Repeal the note.

32  Subsection 314AC(2)

Omit “$10,000 or less”, substitute “less than $1,500”.

33  Subsection 314AC(2) (Note)

Repeal the note.

34  At the end of section 314AC

Add:

             (4)  In the case of a gift of an amount specified in subsection (1) purportedly made out of a trust fund or out of the funds of a foundation or from a club, a statement of a declaration of interest in the prescribed form, completed by the trustees of the fund or the managers of the foundation or the secretary of the club, must be furnished by the registered political party which received the gift as part of its annual return required by section 314AB.

             (5)  Where a declaration of interest is not made in accordance with subsection (4), the gift made by the trust fund or foundation or club is forfeit to the Commonwealth.

35  Subsection 314AE(1)

Omit “more than $10,000”, substitute “$1,500 or more”.

36  Subsection 314AE(1) (Note)

Repeal the note.

37  Subsection 314AG(3)

Repeal the subsection, substitute:

             (3)  The regulations must require information within a return which separately identifies and classifies:

                     (a)  total amounts received; and

                     (b)  individual gifts received which exceed the threshold amount; and

                     (c)  a total aggregate figure of gifts received which are below the threshold amount; and

                     (d)  total public funding received.

38  Subsection 315(1)

After “return” (first occurring), insert “which meets all of the compliance requirements of this Act”.

39  After section 316

Insert:

316B   Commission may refer matter to ATO or ASIC for investigation

             (1)  Where an entity furnishes a return that the entity is required to furnish under Division 4, 5 or 5A that contains particulars that in the view of the Electoral Commission are incorrect, the Electoral Commission may request:

                     (a)  the Australian Taxation Office; or

                     (b)  the Australian Securities and Investments Commission;

to investigate the matter and audit the entity and the registered political party in relation to those particulars.

             (2)  For the purposes of subsection (1), the Electoral Commission may furnish such evidence as has been obtained in accordance with this Division to the Australian Taxation Office or the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

40  Section 321A

Repeal the section.