Thursday, 29 October 2020
Electoral Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2020; Second Reading
I so was. Thank you, member for Brand. The Morrison government should be supporting these bills to protect the integrity of our democratic institutions, so today I move an amendment to the motion, in the terms circulated in my name, calling for reforms to increase transparency in our system by reducing the disclosure threshold to $1,000, removing indexation of the threshold to prevent the threshold increasing over time, and requiring recipients of political donations to disclose them within seven days so that the public can know whose money is in play in funding campaigns. I move:
That all words after "That" be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:
"whilst not declining to give the bill a second reading, the House notes that Australia's electoral system would be strengthened by:
(1) lowering the disclosure threshold for political donations from the current threshold of $14,300 to $1,000;
(2) removing the indexation of the political donation disclosure threshold; and
(3) requiring recipients of political donations to disclose those donations within seven days".
To further reduce parties' reliance on fundraising and provide a relatively more level playing field to parties and candidates contesting elections, the rate of public election funding should be increased, and parties and elected Independents should be provided with administrative funding to help cover the increasing costs of compliance now being imposed by these and existing provisions in the Commonwealth Electoral Act.
Finally, we note that there were some concerns raised in JSCEM's inquiry regarding the potential for a polling official to ask a voter for identification. The current provisions in the Commonwealth Electoral Act are extremely prescriptive regarding the wording and order of questions an official must ask a voter to ascertain their entitlement to vote. The amendments in the bill provide officials with some flexibility to rephrase some of those questions. As Labor's dissenting report from the JSCEM inquiry pointed out, Labor does not support so-called voter ID laws. We do not support anything that would undermine our compulsory system of voting by discouraging people from voting. However, the Australian Electoral Commission has said that the questions can cause difficulty in circumstances where a voter has English as a second language or where they have hearing disability. We believe the flexibility provided by the amendment is warranted and we are satisfied with assurances from the Electoral Commissioner that it will not result in polling officials asking for identification. On that basis, I commend the amendment that I moved and the bill to the House.