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Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Disclosure of Political Donations) Bill 2021

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2019-2020-2021

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Disclosure of Political Donations) Bill 2021

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

and

STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Circulated by authority of

Member for Indi, Dr Helen Haines MP



Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Disclosure of Political Donations) Bill 2021

 

 

OUTLINE

 

The Bill amends the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (“the Act”) to require registered political parties, State branch of political parties, an individual political candidate, a group of political candidates, or associated entities to:

 

·          disclose all (cumulative) donations received equal to or above $1,000 (non-indexed) from the same person or entity on a quarterly basis to the Australian Electoral Commission (“AEC”) for immediate publication on the Transparency Register; and,

 

·          disclose all (cumulative) donations received equal to or above the indexed AEC threshold (currently $14,500) from the same person or entity within 5 business days of receipt to the AEC for immediate publication on the Transparency Register.

 

New financial penalties will also apply if these disclosure requirements are not met.

 

Currently, political parties are only required to provide the AEC with an annual return which provides details about donations equal to or above the disclosure threshold of $14,500. These disclosures often occur after elections hampering public trust and transparency.

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT

 

The bill will have no financial impact.

 

 



 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

 

Clause 1: Short Title

 

This clause provides for the Bill, once enacted, to be cited as the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Disclosure of Political Donations) Act 2021 .

 

Clause 2: Commencement

 

This clause provides for the Bill to commence on the next 1 July after Royal Assent.

 

Clause 3: Schedules

 

Schedule 1 - Amendments

 

Item 1

 

Item 1 inserts new provisions requiring quarterly disclosure of (cumulative) donations from the same person or entity equal to or above $1,000 (non-indexed) on a quarterly basis, and ‘real time’ disclosure of (cumulative) donations from the same person or entity equal to or above the current AEC threshold ($14,500) within 5 business days of receipt.

 

A contravention of these provisions attracts 60 penalty units or a fine three times the amount of the undisclosed donation, whichever is higher.

 

Item 2

 

Item 2 requires the Electoral Commissioner to publish the above disclosures on the Transparency Register as soon as reasonably practical after receiving the return.



STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

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

 

Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Disclosure of Political Donations) Bill 2021

 

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 require registered political parties, State branch of political parties, an individual political candidate, a group of political candidates, or associated entities to:

 

·          disclose all (cumulative) donations received equal to or above $1,000 (non-indexed) from the same person or entity on a quarterly basis to the Australian Electoral Commission (“AEC”) for immediate publication on the Transparency Register; and,

 

·          disclose all (cumulative) donations received equal to or above the indexed AEC threshold (currently $14,500) from the same person or entity within 5 business days of receipt to the AEC for immediate publication on the Transparency Register.

 

New financial penalties will also apply if these disclosure requirements are not met.

 

Currently, political parties are only required to provide the AEC with an annual return which provides details about donations equal to or above the disclosure threshold of $14,500. These disclosures often occur after elections hampering public trust and transparency.

 

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.

 

The bill seeks to improve public confidence in our political system by providing the public with greater transparency regarding how our politicians and the parties they belong to may (or may not) be influenced by donations.

 

Conclusion

 

This Bill is compatible with human rights and freedoms.

 

 

 

 

Dr Helen Haines MP