The inquiry into the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Real Time Disclosure of Political Donations) Bill is an opportunity to reflect on the current funding and disclosure regulation.
In healthy democracies like Australia, we have a range of political parties that are for the most part made up of volunteers. With this in mind, it is important that any rules relating to reporting political donations are fair and not unnecessarily onerous.
Part XX of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 already establishes a robust funding and disclosure regime, which most political parties are able to comply with.
In addition to placing additional burdens on the Australian Electoral Commission, this Bill has other problems including the requirement of the disclosure of all gifts regardless of the amount; that the definition of gift does not capture sponsorship or membership fees; the proposed section 305C does not cover candidates and associated entities; and it does not factor in the additional expense of compliance.
Further examination of these issues is expected to occur in November 2020 when the Committee undertakes a review of the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Act 2018.
I would like to thank Deputy Chair Senator Carol Brown for her assistance in this report and my fellow Committee Members.
Senator the Hon James McGrath