Wednesday, 2 September 2020
Electoral Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2020; In Committee
[by video link]by leave—I move Greens amendments (1) to (3) on sheet 1002 together.
(1) Schedule 1, page 3 (after line 8), after item 1, insert:
1A Subsection 287(1) (definition of disclosure threshold )
Omit "$13,800", substitute "$1,000".
1B Subsection 287(1) (note to the definition of disclosure threshold )
Repeal the note.
(2) Schedule 1, page 9 (after line 6), after item 26, insert:
26A After subsection 305A(1A)
(1B) An amount prescribed for the purposes of paragraph (1)(b) or (1A)(b) must not be more than the disclosure threshold.
(3) Schedule 1, items 32 and 33, page 11 (lines 11 to 17), omit the items, substitute:
32 Section 321A
Repeal the section.
The effect of these amendments would be to reduce the federal disclosure threshold of political donations down to $1,000. It was originally $13,500 but it's indexed, so at the moment you can donate just shy of $14,300 to a federal political party for a federal purpose and you don't need to tell anybody about it; it's absolutely opaque. Donations just shy of the disclosure threshold are routinely made, and the public doesn't have the ability to hear about them. This amendment would repeat many amendments over the years that many experts and, in fact, other political parties have moved to reduce that threshold of disclosure down to $1,000.
The public should know who is donating to political parties. Political parties should own up to who is paying for their re-election campaigns. This is a very straightforward transparency and accountability measure. The federal disclosure threshold has been too high since the days when John Howard was Prime Minister and it is about time it was dropped back down to a level where the public knows who is paying for who.
In Queensland, my home state, we have a disclosure threshold under our state laws of $1,000. That has not proved onerous from an administrative perspective to comply with, and we don't think there's any justification for retaining that significantly too-high disclosure threshold that the federal laws enshrine. These amendments would reduce that threshold down to $1,000.
I thank the crossbench in advance who've let me know that they will be supporting this amendment. I haven't heard back from Labor, but of course they've got their own private member's bill to this effect and they had a second reading amendment as well—a bit of a departure there if they didn't vote for this. I'm hopeful that we will see this amendment pass shortly.