The time is up for Malcolm Turnbull to back Labor’s political donation reforms following reports by Four Corners and Fairfax that a Liberal Party official intended to use disclosure loopholes to hide donations from an alleged Mafia boss.
When it comes to reforming political donation laws, Labor has always been the party of action. It was Labor under the Hawke Government that set a disclosure threshold for political donations of $1500 and introduced public funding, reducing political parties’ reliance on donations.
The Liberal Party has always worked to unwind these reforms. The Howard Coalition Government undid that good work when it raised the threshold to $10,000 in 2006 and indexed it to the Consumer Price Index, which has seen the threshold blow out to $13,200.
A 2009 Australian Federal Police investigation into allegations about donations from alleged organised crime figures warned the sources of many donations in Australia were never declared because of high disclosure threshold and other loopholes.
Labor is proud to have continually fought to improve transparency and accountability by lowering disclosure thresholds and closing loopholes.
Bill Shorten last year introduced legislation into the Parliament that will:
· Ban foreign donations;
· Reduce the donation disclosure limit from $13,200 (indexed to inflation) to a fixed $1000;
· Ban ‘donation splitting’ between political party branches and associated entities to avoid disclosure obligations;
· Ban the receipt of anonymous donations above $50;
· Link public funding to campaign expenditure;
· Introduce new offenses and increased penalties for abuses of the political donation disclosure regime.
Today I have written to Acting Special Minister of State, Senator Mathias Cormann, again highlighting the need for urgent reform to prohibit deliberate attempts to hide political donations as revealed by the Fairfax and Four Corners reports.