Our submission on the dangerous Electoral Legislation Amendment Bill
5 February, 2018: Unfortunately, the Turnbull government’s Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017 is about a lot more than just banning donations from overseas individuals and entities. It includes clauses that would severely limit advocacy on human rights and trade justice.
AFTINET has made a submission to the inquiry into the legislation, registering our concern and recommending against the bill. Many of our member organisations, including unions, environment groups and charities, have also made submissions. All submissions are now publicly viewable.
The Bill would impose an enormous regulatory burden on community groups, including AFTINET, that engage in public advocacy on issues that could arise in an election (including outside election periods). The threshold for expenditure on advocacy for registration as a “third party campaigner” is $13,500. We would be compelled to register and keep detailed records of all donations over $250.
The Bill would redefine a broad layer of non-party political activity, carried out in the public interest, as party-political. This would put an immediate chill on well-informed public debate and degrade the political process. We believe the Bill should be withdrawn and redrafted to fit the stated purpose of restricting foreign donations. The broad community opposition should mean that it is possible to defeat the bill in the Senate, where the government does not have a majority.