Tuesday, 16 October 2018
Electoral Legislation (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017; Report from Committee
I will take that interjection! It's important to recognise that the recommendations that have come out of this committee are not just in relation to this one issue. It is vitally important that we as a federal government and we as a parliament ensure that we have open and transparent provisions, particularly in relation to our electoral laws. We want to ensure that to the best of our ability. If we have situations where foreign players—whether they be a foreign government or a foreign party—are making electoral donations to perhaps try and influence the outcome of a federal election, it is only right and proper that the Australian people are notified that a particular company, a particular government or a third party from another country is identified as being just that. Without that clear transparency, a cloud will descend upon this parliament, as we have seen in other countries.
I, for one, want to ensure that we don't head down the same route other countries have. We want to have what I believe are the strongest electoral laws in the world to ensure that we have that openness and transparency, to ensure that foreign players are identified as exactly what they are and so that the Australian public can be assured that any donations that are made are clearly identified as coming from an international third party. I don't think that that is too much to ask.
I call upon those members opposite who provided that dissenting report on just this one issue, on recommendation 10, to work with the government to ensure that the primacy of the Australian parliament is protected. Those members opposite can't have it both ways. Irrespective of the merits of what that state law might be, the simple fact of the matter is you cannot escape section 109, and those members opposite would know it or at least should know it. They ought not try and argue that a state law, irrespective of what they would regard to be the merits of that case, should somehow override a federal law where it is inconsistent. That's not rocket science; it's something that is very, very plain and simple. This federal government, our federal government, will act to protect the primacy of any Commonwealth law.