Wednesday, 2 September 2020
Electoral Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2020; In Committee
[by video link] The Greens will be supporting this amendment which has a series of features within it. It lowers the disclosure threshold, which we support, as we've discussed already on this bill. It doesn't lower it quite as low as the Greens moved for. We wanted the threshold at $1,000, and my understanding is that this amendment would impose a threshold of disclosure of $2,500, but that's a damn sight less than $14,300. I understand that this now also has some changes to the time frame for disclosure. As I said earlier today, at the minute you need to disclose only once a year, on 1 February, and because of the time lag between calendar years and financial years it can be up to 19 months before it's put in the public domain as to which donor donated to which political party. That is so far beneath what is a transparent and accountable approach to disclosure. The Greens would like to see as close to real-time disclosure as possible, and I understand that the Labor Party's view is that they want a seven-day disclosure period. These amendments would have, on my reading of them, a six-month disclosure time frame—which, again, is not quite as rigorous as the Greens would like, but it is still better than the current rules. So, on that basis, we support that element, because it's an improvement.
I understand that there are also some provisions in this amendment that go to anonymous donations. They've long been discussed, because it's a balance between the administrative burden we place on donors and political parties and the need for the public to know who's paying whom. There have long been recommendations for a cap of between $50 and $500 on anonymous donations. And when I say 'anonymous', the example often used is buying a raffle ticket at a party function, so it's not anything that's necessarily nefarious, as 'anonymous' might imply; it's merely those smaller amounts of casual support that many people express and that aren't of a significant amount that would exert an undue influence.
Again, my understanding of these amendments is that they lower that threshold to $500. The Greens would like to see it lower than that. We've pegged it at $50 but, on the basis that this proposed threshold is at least an improvement on our current laws, we will be supporting that as well. So I again confirm that the Greens will be supporting these amendments.