On Tuesday, I will introduce two private senators’ bills designed to deliver on some of Labor’s longstanding commitments to strengthen our electoral system, and protect Australian democracy.
The Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Transparency Measures – Lowering the Disclosure Threshold) Bill 2019, seeks to lower the disclosure threshold for political donations from the current $14,000 to a fixed $1,000.
Labor, under Bob Hawke, introduced the first donations disclosure scheme in 1983, with a disclosure threshold of $1,000.
The Liberals and Nationals, under John Howard, changed the rules in 2006 to hide who was giving them money – raising the threshold to $10,000 and linking it to CPI. That indexation has resulted in the threshold blowing out to the staggering and unacceptable level of $14,000.
The Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Transparency Measures – Real Time Disclosure) Bill 2019, would require recipients to disclose political donations within seven days.
Under the current system, donations to political parties, candidates and associated entities can go weeks and months without being disclosed to the public.
Annual returns are not published until the first working day in February, meaning it can be up to 19 months before voters know who has made a political donation.
This loophole was used to hide Malcolm Turnbull’s record-breaking $1.75 million donation to the Liberal party before the 2016 election for nearly 500 days.
A fixed $1,000 disclosure threshold and tighter deadlines for disclosure will immediately improve transparency and strengthen the integrity of our democracy.
We urge all Senators and Members to support our latest reforms.