The Australian Greens dissent to Recommendation 12 regarding additional requirements for voter identification.
There are serious implications for voter engagement for many groups of disadvantaged voters, including itinerant and indigenous voters as well as those escaping domestic violence. It is not an appropriate response to take actions that would impact on the involvement of these voters in order to address an issue where there is little evidence of any problem and where the proposed solution only addresses one aspect of the stated concern. That is, while there is some limited evidence of individuals voting multiple times in their own name, the added requirement to present photo ID, proof of address or a ‘voter ID’ card will not address this. It will address the concern of people impersonating others but there has been no evidence produced that would suggest this has occurred.
The Australian Greens have some concerns about Recommendation 4 to increase the requirement for political parties to have 1 000 members before they can field candidates in a federal election, because it will be a disincentive and barrier to new political parties.
Legitimate political participants in the political process should be welcomed and encouraged, and the 500 member threshold is an adequate balance between allowing new entrants to our democracy and ensuring that fake parties can’t game elections.
The Australian Greens have some concerns about Recommendation 10 to increase the current penalty for not voting to more than $20, as the higher cost is highly unlikely to deter non-voting. What is needed to encourage voting is to restore community confidence that our political system is capable of representing people, rather than just vested interests and big donors.
The Australian Greens believe that when electoral processes encourage people to participate in our political system, it makes for a healthier democracy. Rather than entrenching a punitive approach to non-compliance, we want to make sure the AEC has sufficient resources to educate the electorate on the importance, legal requirements and systems of voting, as well as the facilities for the enrolment of voters. We support funding education and outreach programmes that assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, newly eligible voters and all other groups with lower voter turnout, to participate fully in electoral processes.
The Australian Greens note Recommendation 26 which refers for further enquiry into the question of increasing the threshold for tax-deductibility of donations to political parties. The Australian Greens oppose increasing the amount of money people can donate to political parties–let alone tax-deduct it. We believe that we need to get the influence of big money out of politics, not encourage it.
Donations from corporations and influential individuals have a corrupting effect on Australian democracy. Rather than encouraging more gifts, The Australian Greens would like to see a cap of $3 000 per parliamentary term on all donations to political parties, candidates and associated entities. Contributions from the same donor should be aggregated for the purpose of the cap.
The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 should also be amended to ban all donations from developers, banks, mining companies and the tobacco, liquor, gambling, defence and pharmaceutical industries to political parties, candidates and associated entities.