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The Federal crossbench has moved to prevent the two major parties from rigging electoral donations laws in their favour,  announcing a “fair and transparent elections” bill to be introduced in both houses of parliament. 

The bill will hold the ALP to its pre-election promises of real-time disclosures and lowering the disclosure threshold to $1,000 — still not enacted after almost two years in power —  while seeking to prevent the undermining of funding to independents and newcomers. 

Guardian Australia reports the bill is backed by a “united front” of independents, including Zali Steggall, David Pocock, Kate Chaney and Lidia Thorpe, as well as the Greens and the Jacqui Lambie Network. 

That means the laws can pass without the support of the Coalition — an excuse the ALP has put forward for failing to have taken action to date, and which independents fear the ALP will use as a cover to introduce laws that entrench the two majors. 

Support for the ALP and Coalition is in systemic decline as voters opt for independents minor parties, who are seen as far less beholden to vested interests, including fossil fuels. 

The bill reportedly includes a range of reforms, including introducing truth in political advertising laws, a ban on donations from “socially harmful industries” including fossil fuels and gambling, and requiring donations to be disclosed within five business days.

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The new laws would likely capture disinformation group “Advance”. Source: The Klaxon

It also closes a loophole by capturing money from major party fundraisers, such as “business forums” and dinners, for which the Coalition and ALP often charge thousands of dollars per head. 

A key difference to plans from the ALP — about which it backgrounded the Sydney Morning Herald last week — is the bill would cap individual donations at around $1.5 million, calculated as 2 per cent of the total amount of public funding at the previous federal election. 

Independents have raised concerns the two major parties are seeking to increase the public funding of elections, which would likley entrench the major parties and create “barriers to entry” to newcomers. 

“The government has committed to transparency and truth and we’re demonstrating that it doesn’t need to wait for opposition support to get this done,” said Chaney, who will introduce the bill in the lower house.

Senator David Pocock will introduce the bill in the Senate. Source: Supplied


Pocock, who will introduce the bill in the Senate, told Guardian Australia Australia’s “well functioning democracy” was “increasingly under threat”. 

“[The bill] gives parliament an opportunity to enact serious and long-overdue electoral reform before the next federal election,” Pocock said. 

Before the last election the ALP promised to introduce wide-reaching political donations reform but has failed to do so and last week indicated it did not plan to legislate any changes until after next year’s federal election. 

The Albanese Government came to power on a platform of “accountability” and “transparency” but has drawn widespread criticism for failing to follow through. 

It promised a federal anti-corruption commission — something the Coalition promised for several years but refused to implement — but then implemented a watered-down version which will be conducted almost entirely behind closed doors. 

The ALP claimed it had done so in order to gain the support of the Coalition, despite it holding an electoral majority and overwhelming public support for a robust federal corruption watchdog. 

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Anthony Klan

Editor, The Klaxon

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