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Thursday, 15 November 2018
Page: 8414


Senator WATERS (Queensland) (17:13): by leave—I move Australian Greens amendments (1) to (4) on sheet 8546 revised together:

(1) Clause 2, page 2 (table items 2 and 3), omit the table items, substitute:

2. Schedule 1

The first 1 July that occurs on or after the day on which this Act receives the Royal Assent.

(2) Schedule 1, page 3 (before line 7), before item 1, insert:

1AA At the end of Part I

Add:

4E Concurrent operation of State and Territory laws

This Act is not intended to exclude or limit the operation of a law of a State or Territory that is capable of operating concurrently with this Act.

(3) Schedule 1, item 4, page 4 (line 12), omit "$13,500", substitute "$1,000".

(4) Schedule 1, items 5 and 6, page 4 (lines 16 to 21), omit the items, substitute:

5 Subsection 287(1) (definition of gift )

Repeal the definition, substitute:

gift means any disposition of property made by a person to another person, being a disposition made without consideration in money or money's worth or with inadequate consideration, and includes:

(a) the provision of a service (other than volunteer labour) for no consideration or for inadequate consideration; and

(b) an annual subscription paid to a political party, to a State branch of a political party or to a division of a State branch of a political party by a person in respect of the person's membership of the party, branch or division; and

(c) a payment in respect of attendance at a fundraiser or similar event held by, or for the benefit of, a political entity;

but does not include:

(d) a payment under Division 3; or

(e) any visit, experience or activity provided for the purposes of a political exchange program.

These amendments relate to, firstly, the commencement date of these new laws. Importantly, amendment (2) goes to whether or not the federal government can override state donation rules. Senator Farrell has received advice that is in conflict with the advice that I've received, and I've formed my own view on the effect of the amendments. My understanding is that, as the bill is currently drafted, it will still enable property developers to avoid the donations ban that would otherwise apply in Queensland. My understanding is that the Queensland laws will now need to be amended to require that donations be placed into a separate bank account. If that amendment goes through the Queensland parliament—presumably it will—we won't have a problem. But until such time as that amendment occurs, this bill enables the developer donation ban to be circumvented.

I take objection to the description of my legal view of that as being grandstanding. It's quite the contrary. We're actually trying to clean up politics here. We're trying to get big money out of politics and we're trying to make sure that the rules that were brought in in Queensland by your counterpart, Senator O'Farrell, are effective. So we have moved this amendment in—

The TEMPORARY CHAIR ( Senator McCarthy ): What is your point of order, Senator Farrell?

Senator Farrell: On a point of order: Senator Waters should call me by my correct name, which is Senator Farrell, not Senator O'Farrell.

Senator WATERS: Sorry. It was my mistake, Senator Farrell. I do apologise. It was not deliberate. I apologise. So that was amendment (2). I'll just move to briefly outline amendment (3). We are seeking here to lower the disclosure threshold for donations to $1,000. We think that enables far more public scrutiny of what money is being received by whom and, in particular, by which political parties.

Amendment (4) goes to the fact that, at the moment, membership fees aren't considered donations and moneys provided to political parties to attend fundraising events are also not considered donations. There is so much dark money flowing around, going into the coffers of the larger political parties, that is not properly accounted for and that is not able to be scrutinised by the public. This amendment, amendment (4), would say that those contributions are to be considered a donation and therefore should be subject to the other rules that donations are subject to; namely, the disclosure threshold—and, if our amendment is successful—a cap on the amount. I moved those four amendments, as listed earlier.