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Electoral Act Review Ignores the Issues

20 Jul 2018

Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens’ Leader

The Tasmanian Greens’ submission to the review of the State’s electoral laws calls for root-and-branch reform of Tasmania’s uniquely opaque and malignant rules governing political donations.  The submission is attached.

Comment on the Liberals’ review of the Electoral Act 2004 closes today.  For a reason not yet properly explained by the Premier, the outcome of this review is unlikely to be known for a year or so, with even an interim report five months away.

Regrettably, this snails’ pace review has all the hallmarks of a political exercise to avoid the need for real reform to strengthen accountability and transparency in Tasmania.

During the last State election campaign, many Tasmanians watched in dismay the corrupting influence of corporate donors permeating our electoral system via undisclosed cash and in-kind support for the Liberal Party.

Instead of resolving the crisis of confidence in democracy they helped to perpetuate, the Hodgman Liberals are tinkering around the edges with a review apparently designed to protect their capacity to sell themselves to corporate interests come election time.

The Greens instead recommend new rules providing for:

1.    Real time donations disclosure,

2.    Prohibitions on donations from big corporates, developers, companies that cause harm, foreign donors, and more,

3.    Restrictions on donations by associated entities like “Love your Local”,

4.    Lowering the reporting threshold to $1000,

5.    A cap on the amount that can be donated,

6.    Bringing Tasmania in line with other states by publicly funding election campaigns.

If the Premier is serious about electoral reform – and we doubt it – delivering a robust, transparent framework must be his top priority.

The Liberals claimed this review would “ensure our democratic processes are contemporary and in-line with changing community expectations”.

This review’s terms of reference won’t even ensure the processes are democratic.

Tasmanians don’t have much trust in the commitment of the two big political parties to reform the electoral rorts they both benefit from. But it’d be refreshing if the Liberals were less flagrant about their self-serving electoral agenda.