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Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Real Time Disclosure of Political Donations) Bill 2019

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2019

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Real Time Disclosure of Political Donations) Bill 2019

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

and

STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Circulated by authority of

Member for Mayo, Rebekha Sharkie MP



Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Real Time Disclosure of Political Donations) Bill 2019

 

 

OUTLINE

 

The Bill amends the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (“the Act”) to provide a more transparent political donation disclosure regime.

 

Currently, political parties are only required to provide the Australian Electoral Commission (‘the electoral commission’) with an annual return which provides details of the donations received over the disclosure threshold of $13,800.

 

This Bill amends the Act to require the agent or financial controller of the party, branch or campaigner to advise the electoral commission of any donation received by the party, branch or campaigner that meets or exceeds the disclosure threshold.

 

The notification must occur within 5 business days of receipt of the donation.

 

The notification must include the identity of the person or entity who made the gift, the amount of the gift, a description of the gift, the date on which it was received and the name and address of the party, branch or campaigner that received the gift.

 

The Bill does not change the disclosure threshold for political donations nor does it seek to amend the arrangements with respect to elections or by-elections.

 

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT

 

The bill will have no financial impact.

 

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

 

Clause 1: Short Title

Clause provides for the Bill, once enacted, to be cited as the Commonwealth Amendment (Real Time Disclosure of Political Donations) Act 2019 .

 

Clause 2: Commencement

Clause provides for the Bill to commence one year after Royal Assent.

 

Clause 3: Schedules

 

Schedule 1 - Amendments

 

Item 1

Item 1 inserts an amended simplified outline clarifying that the electoral commission must be notified of gifts made to a political party, State branch or political campaigner as soon as reasonably practicable after the gift is made and no later than five business days after receipt.

 

Item 2

Item 2 amends section 302V to include a reference to both an annual return and a notice.

 

Item 3

Item 3 amends the heading to section 305B to clarify that this provision relates to annual returns.

 

Item 4

Item 4 inserts a new section which provides that political parties, State branches and political campaigners must provide a notice to the electoral commission as soon as practicable to do so and in any event no later than five working days after receipt of same.

 

The notice must be in the approved form and must set out the identity of the person or entity that made the gift, the amount of the gift, a description of the gift, the date on which the gift was made and the name and address of the registered political party, branch or campaigner.

 

A failure to provide the notice results in a penalty of 60 penalty units or an amount that is three times the value of the donation. This penalty is consistent with other penalties set out in Division 4 of the Act.

 

Item 5

Item 5 amends subsection 320(1) to provide for notices provided to the electoral commission to be published on the Transparency Register as soon as reasonably practicable after giving the notice.



STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

 

Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Real Time Disclosure of Political Donations) Bill 2019

 

This bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

 

Overview of the bill

 

The Bill amends the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (“the Act”) to provide a more transparent political donation disclosure regime.

 

Currently, political parties are only required to provide the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) with an annual return which provides details of the donations received over the disclosure threshold of $13,800.

 

This Bill amends the Act to require the agent or financial controller of the party, branch or campaigner to advise the AEC of any donation received by the party, branch or campaigner that meets or exceeds the disclosure threshold.

 

The notification must occur within 5 business days of receipt of the donation.

 

The notification must include the identity of the person or entity who made the gift, the amount of the gift, a description of the gift, the date on which it was received and the name and address of the party, branch or campaigner that received the gift.

 

The Bill does not change the disclosure threshold for political donations nor does it seek to amend the arrangements with respect to elections or by-elections.

 

Human rights implications

 

This Bill may engage the implied right to freedom of political communication by seeking to strengthen the framework surrounding the disclosure of political donations.

 

However, it will improve public confidence in our political system by enabling the public to scrutinise how, if at all, our politicians and the parties the belong to are influenced by donations.

 

Conclusion

 

This Bill is compatible with human rights and freedoms.

 

 

 

 

Rebekha Sharkie MP