Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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Foreign political donations

Recently the subject of political donations from foreign interests has received considerable attention. The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (CEA) regulates donations to political parties and candidates. It does not distinguish between donors from Australia or overseas, or (effectively) between donors who are Australian citizens, non-citizens or organisations (there are certain provisions relating to donations and corporate insolvency, for example, which do not apply to individuals). The CEA requires parties and candidates to know the name and address of a donor if the donation is more than the disclosure threshold (currently $13,200), and for donors and parties to submit an annual return at... Read more...

Recent Senate electoral reform proposals

Reform of the Senate electoral system is once again in the news, with reports that the Government wants to pass legislation enabling reform before the budget sitting (that is, effectively by 17 March). Other reports are suggesting that the Australian Greens will produce their own Senate voting reform legislation. Unlike other recent discussions about Senate electoral system reform, the approaches currently being discussed do not follow the May 2014 recommendations of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM), which were outlined in a previous Flagpost. This Flagpost examines some of these new proposals with a particular focus on what constitutes a valid vote. Read more...

The 2013 Federal Election report from JSCEM

More than 18 months after the loss of almost 1400 Western Australian Senate ballot papers, the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) has released the report from its inquiry into the 2013 federal election. It recommends, among other things, winding back direct enrolment and requiring voters to present identification to cast a vote. Read more...

110th anniversary of the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902

Tuesday 12 June 2012 marks the 110th anniversary of the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902, the law that granted most Australian women the right to vote, and therefore to stand, in Commonwealth elections. The Act stated that ‘all persons not under twenty-one years of age whether male or female married or unmarried’ would be entitled to vote in Commonwealth elections. It excluded Indigenous men and women, unless they were eligible to vote under state laws in accordance with Section 41 of the Australian Constitution. Across Australia, women voted for the first time in the second Commonwealth election held on 16 December 1903. Women in South Australia (who were granted voting rights in 1895) and W... Read more...

Alternative vote for the UK?

On 16 February 2011 the UK Parliament passed legislation providing for a referendum to be held on 5 May 2011 regarding possible changes to the UK electoral system. This was a key constitutional reform identified in the Coalition programme for government formulated by the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats following the 2010 election. However, the parties hold opposing views on the form of the electoral system to be adopted. The Conservatives support the current electoral system, First-past-the-post, while the Liberal Democrats support the Alternative Vote, similar to the Australian system. The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 provides for the next UK general elect... Read more...

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