Senate debates

Wednesday, 24 November 2021


Electoral Legislation Amendment (Political Campaigners) Bill 2021; Second Reading

6:48 pm

Photo of Jonathon DuniamJonathon Duniam (Tasmania, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries) Share this | | Hansard source

I table a revised explanatory memorandum relating to the bill and I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

Today I introduce the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Political Campaigners) Bill 2021, which responds to Recommendation 18 of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) from its Report on the conduct of the 2019 federal election and matters related thereto.

This Bill amends the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 to enhance public confidence in Australia's political processes by aligning transparency of political actors who seek to influence the outcome of an election to more closely resemble the disclosures of political parties, candidates, or members of the Australian Parliament.

The amendment reduces the amount of 'electoral expenditure' an individual or organisation can spend before they are required to register as a political campaigner.

This amount will decrease from the current $500,000 to $100,000 during the financial year, or for any of the previous three financial years.

A person or entity will also be required to register as a political campaigner where the amount of the 'electoral expenditure' they have spent during the financial year is at least equal to the disclose threshold, currently $14,500, and at least one-third of their revenue for the previous financial year.

The amendments do not represent a significant change for people or entities who meet the updated thresholds. Every organisation affected by this amendment either is already required to submit a return as a third party campaigner, or would be required to do so if they incurred such expenditure at a future electoral event. These amendments simply change the type of return they lodge with the AEC.

This Bill will assist electors to make an informed choice during the electoral process, by making equal the requirements on political actors seeking to influence election outcomes.

Debate adjourned.

Ordered that the resumption of debate be made an order of the day for a later hour.