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Action Not Words Needed on Electoral Reform

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Tags: Democracy, Political Donations, Electoral Reform

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Justice spokesperson

Today's release of the Final Report from the Electoral Act Review is long overdue, but the contents of the report fall far short of what is required. 
Tasmanians were outraged by the amount of dirty money spent during the last State Election campaign, and in the three years since the Liberals have continued to rake in millions of dollars from secret donations and stall on meaningful political donations law reform. 
Despite being just a year - or perhaps less - until the next election, the Liberals have made minimal commitments, and kicked the can down the road for important issues.
Donation reforms, including a disclosure threshold and more frequent reporting, are welcome, but no specifics have been made public yet.
Decisions on important reforms such as expenditure caps, bans on corporate donations, and public funding, have all been deferred – despite being part of the terms of reference of this two year review process.
Donations reform in Tasmania isn’t rocket science – it doesn’t need “more consideration” and “more modelling and analysis” as the Report indicates. All other jurisdictions have introduced a range of laws to curb the corrupting influence of secret political donations.
After years of deflection, and then sitting on this Final Report for over a year, the Liberals now say we'll see some legislation for electoral reforms in the Parliament this year. We hope that's true, because Tasmanians are fed up with being pushed aside from the democratic process by wealthy corporate interests. 
We have alleged political interference in the political donations reform process from the very start. Outrageously, the Government redacted our submission to the review when they posted it to their website, removing any reference to political interference, or even our factual statements about donations to the Liberal Party or actions of the Minister.
If that isn’t proof of politicisation of this reform process, what is?
We urge the Liberals to put their actual reform proposals on the table as soon as possible. These laws must ensure at minimum meaningful caps on electoral expenditure, the real time disclosure of political donations, mandatory disclosure requirements for third party campaigners, and a ban on donations from industries such as the gambling sector. 

After all, the strengthening of our democracy should be a top priority for any government.