House debates

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Political Donations and Other Measures) Bill 2010

Second Reading

7:58 pm

Photo of Laura SmythLaura Smyth (La Trobe, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

It was unions who were much maligned in the member for Mackellar’s remarks previously about those who had campaigned somewhat steadfastly against the opposition leader and the member for Mackellar’s Work Choices regime. She anticipates, I believe, that others in this debate will seek to malign corporate donors. Here is a revelation: I do not propose to do so because I think that we are more than capable of articulating a positive position on the bill which is put before us—the bill which so effectively provides for significant reforms to electoral campaign requirements.

The changes proposed to be made by this bill are considerable and they are detailed. In the main, however, the bill deals with three central objectives. It increases the transparency of disclosure obligations relating to political donations and provides for more frequent and prompt reporting of political expenditure and donations. The reforms do not set out to create additional or unnecessary administrative obligations for parties or individuals but seek to increase the transparency and the integrity of the election system. It is quite extraordinary then that the members opposite would be seeking to oppose such a straightforward and fairly innocuous piece of legislation.

Public perceptions of the sources of funding available to political parties and individuals are naturally linked to the regard in which our political system is held. Thorough disclosure of sources of election campaign funding ensures that the electorate can satisfy itself of the independence of policy decisions from undue influence or interference. The history of this legislation has been quite protracted—so much for the legislative rush described in the remarks of the member for Mackellar. The reforms are, as might be expected, detailed and comprehensive. They have involved deliberations over a considerable period of time and it is now timely indeed that they proceed. The government has sought to reform election funding and political donations for some time. The first bill to address these issues was introduced in—


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