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Government moves to increase transparency in political donations
Gary Gray, AO, MP Special Minister of State Media Release
GG 05/10 20 October 2010
Government Moves to Increase Transparency in Political Donations
Special Minister of State Gary Gray today introduced legislation into the Parliament to increase transparency and accountability to the political funding and disclosure regime.
Mr Gray said the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Political Donations and Other Measures) Bill 2010 was the third bill introduced by the Government over the past two years that was designed to increase transparency and reduce the maximum value of anonymous donations.
“On both previous occasions, those Bills have been blocked in the Senate,” Mr Gray said.
“In 1984 the Labor Government introduced legislation that, for the first time, required political parties to disclose political donations. Over the course of the past two and a half decades, we have seen substantial tightening and increased regulation of political party activity.
“These regulations have ensured Australian Federal politics has not been marred by many of the issues encountered in other countries.
“However, we must be vigilant to ensure that our laws, and the regulatory environment in which we work, are as good as they can be.”
The Bill 2010 will:
â¢ lower the threshold for the disclosure of donations from the current amount of
$11,500 (indexed) to a flat rate of $1,000;
â¢ extend the prohibition on anonymous donations to all anonymous donations except
where the donation is $50 or less and has been received at a general public activity (such as a fete) or at a private event (such as a dinner or a quiz night);
â¢ prohibit the use of anonymous donations by third parties for political expenditure,
except for anonymous donations of $50 or less and that have been received at a general public activity or at a private event;
â¢ ban foreign donations;
â¢ prevent donationâsplitting with donations to separate branches of a party to no
longer be treated as separate donations, with the effect that donations totalling $1,000 or more will need to be disclosed;
â¢ increase the frequency of the disclosure of donations and expenditure from annually
to every six months and reduce the timeframes for a range of other reporting periods from up to 20 weeks to eight weeks; and
â¢ tie public funding for registered political parties, unendorsed candidates and
unendorsed Senate groups to genuine election expenditure incurred during the period from the issuing of the writs for an election to the end of polling day.
Should the Bill pass the Parliament the measures will commence on 1 July 2011.
The Government is committed to building a dialogue with the Coalition, the Australian Greens and independent members to ensure that real progress can be made in reforming campaign financing.
The Bill gives effect to the Government’s recent commitment to the Australian Greens and the independent members to seek immediate reform of donation, disclosure and funding laws for political parties and election campaigns.
This is not the first time that these provisions have been presented to the Parliament, with the Government pursuing campaign finance reform since May 2008.
The Government remains committed to improving the election funding and disclosure regime to maintain the integrity of the electoral process and to help ensure that election campaigning is transparent and fair.
Media Contact: Website:
Astrid Serventy — 0407 383 117 www.smos.gov.au
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