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Wednesday, 2 September 2020
Page: 4829

Senator FARRELL (South Australia) (19:04): Labor welcome the debate on Senator Lambie's amendments. We've been talking to her since 8.30 this morning about some of these issues. We particularly welcome the senator's commitment to improving transparency and the integrity of the Commonwealth donations regime. However, we won't be voting for the amendments as we are of the firm view that the Commonwealth parliament should be able to make laws in relation to the conduct of Commonwealth elections without those laws being overridden by the states. If sections 302CA and 314B are repealed then it leaves open the potential for foreign donations to be funnelled through state branches and to avoid the Commonwealth ban on donations from foreign actors. Further, it will mean that there will be no uniformity in the treatment of federal parties and candidates. Rather, they will be governed by the laws of eight different states and territories. This is not a position we can accept.

What we must strive towards is a better Commonwealth funding and disclosure regime. Labor's bill currently before the Senate, which would lower the donations threshold from $14,300 indexed to inflation to a fixed $1,000, and the introduction of a system of real-time disclosure would immediately provide greater transparency of those who are seeking to influence our elections. Further proposed reforms of donations and expenditure caps, increasing the rate of public funding and introducing administrative funding for parties and elected Independents would reduce parties' reliance on donations and improve the integrity of the system. Labor will continue to pursue these reforms and we look forward to working with Senator Lambie to achieve them.