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Electoral donation reform faces unsure future

Labor’s proposed reforms to the electoral funding law are again up in the air after last week’s ministerial reshuffle. The former Special Minister of State Gary Gray had committed the government to trying…

With a new Special Minister of State, electoral donation reforms are once again unsure. AAP/Lukas Coch

Labor’s proposed reforms to the electoral funding law are again up in the air after last week’s ministerial reshuffle.

The former Special Minister of State Gary Gray had committed the government to trying to get big changes through parliament by June 30.

The changes would mean many more donations would have to be publicly revealed.

But the new Special Minister of State Mark Dreyfus is still considering what to do. When asked by The Conversation, his office could not say what would happen to the plan.

The government currently has a bill before the Senate that would require disclosure of all political donations above $1000 - compared with the present level of more than $12,000.

This legislation has passed the House of Representatives and the numbers would be there for it to pass the senate with the support of the Greens.

Gray, however, had wanted wider reforms, including subsidising political parties and independents for their administrative costs.

Labor party elder Senator John Faulkner, has previously strongly argued that the government should move on electoral donations reform. He initiated the measures when he held the post of Special Minister of State under Kevin Rudd.

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11 Comments sorted by

  1. Jack Arnold


    Well Ms Grattan, I am impressed. A brief article, going straight to the point without digressing into personal invective against OUR PRIME MINISTER or yellow journalism about the key political characters, Gary Gray and Mark Dreyfus. This article better represents the standard required by TC readers.

    I am giving this article three stars for encouragement.

  2. Michael Shand

    Software Tester

    Suprisingly a Good article by Michelle, although all this disclosure is a little pointless given our current media landscape

    Who is actually going to report who the big funders are and what their special interest is or what deal they got? Michelle? are you going to? me thinks not

  3. Fred Bloggs

    Agent provocateur

    The question that is not being asked is why our political parties should be funded at all.

    We are enjoying prosperity that our forebears could not imagine, yet our political parties receive almost no funding from Joe/Jo Public at all. Given that we are voting with our wallets, how can it be justified for the beneficiaries of such a scheme to impose it on us? To put it simply: what's in it for us?

    Perhaps the Party system has reached its natural end generally. There is very little to differentiate them apart from the specific sectional interests to which they are perceived to be beholden, both of which are two sides of the same coin anyway.

    Could we do without them altogether? What negative consequences would flow?

    1. Bill Butterworth


      In reply to Gavin Moodie

      Largely from donations and investments I believe Gavin, with electoral expenses for candidates who reach a threshold vote having some of their costs reimbursed, along with an extra bit in the Party pot.

      I'm answering for Fred because he has been declared a non-person by the editorial team for offering a view on another thread that the editors apparently felt was not in alignment with their preferred social constructional advocacy.

    2. Bill Butterworth


      In reply to Gavin Moodie

      I know Fred well, he's a scrupulously polite gentleman.

      The proposal is for parties to have their admin costs paid for through the public purse, which are presently a matter for them, funded by whatever means they can arrange. It seems to me that if they are unable to arouse sufficient support for that directly, then there is a question about their viability and if their viability is in question, then their necessity must also be.

      Perhaps they are no longer worthwhile?

    3. Bill Butterworth


      In reply to Gavin Moodie

      He has a good command of vernacular, I would agree, but I don't think anyone could ascribe malice to his usage.

      I understood that the proposal was once again being touted. I'll look further into it.

  4. ian cheong

    logged in via email

    I, as a conversation reader, would prefer to see a more in depth and independent analysis of the options. As Fred Bloggs mentioned, do we need parties to be funded at all?

    I'd go further - do we need parties at all. How much does party funding corrupt government to do the bidding of big business as opposed to the "common person".

    If the example is the USA, the system of funding of political parties is bad for democracy but good for the "Moneyocracy" (documentary title). Somehow this works despite a "federal ban on direct contributions from corporations or unions to candidate campaigns or political parties" <>;.

    Presumably, corporations have just as much right to "free speech" in their political advertising campaigns. I think corporations need to pay the same tax as individuals - level playing field will reduce rorts and avoidance schemes which are rife and economically unproductive.

  5. George Harley

    Retired Dogsbody

    Open slather I say! Let's have the best democracy that money can buy.