May 28, 2013

Legislation to reform disclosure reporting obligations of political parties

Special Minister of State Mark Dreyfus QC today announced the introduction of legislation to reform the disclosure and reporting obligations of political parties, independents and third parties in the electoral process.
The Bill contains 24 measures that build on the December 2011 recommendations of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters relating to the funding of political parties and election campaigns, as well as the Fair Work Australia report of September 2012.
The Bill reduces the threshold for disclosure of donations from $12,100 to $5,000 and requires reporting where donations from an individual or organisation exceed $5000 in a six month period.
“These changes will significantly increase the transparency of donations made to political parties,” Mr Dreyfus said.
“Any single donation of $100,000 or more to a political party must also be reported to the Australian Electoral Commission within 28 days. The AEC will then disclose the details within 28 days of the return being lodged.
“Gifts of foreign property will be also prohibited and the disclosure threshold for anonymous gifts will be reduced to $1,000.”
The Bill introduces administrative funding for political parties with at least one candidate elected and elected independents and compliance funding for parliamentary parties.
Administrative funding will be based upon the number of first preference votes received by candidates endorsed by the party, while compliance funding is a flat figure which will be indexed over time.
Public funding of political parties is a long established principle and important aspect of our democracy.
“The new funding provisions are designed to assist political parties meet their obligations under the new disclosure and reporting regime,” said Mr Dreyfus.
“The new funding will also reduce the reliance of political parties on third party donors, making the system more transparent and increasing the independence of political parties.
“The significant changes made by the Bill will give greater confidence to Australian electors that they know where the money is coming from.”
The Bill will also provide for political parties to be treated like bodies corporate for the purposes of the funding and disclosure provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act and introduce an infringement notice scheme for offences like failing to lodge a return on time.
Media contact: Attorney-General’s office - 02 6277 7300
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