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Labor’s Donations Reform Won’t Take Dirty Money Out of Politics

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Monday, 13 July 2020

Tags: Political Donations, Electoral Reform, Transparency

Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens Leader

It’s good to see Labor come to the party on the urgent need for electoral donations law reform in Tasmania. It’s a pity, however, that they stopped at the door.

While there are some good provisions within their Bill, the omission of a cap on donations from individuals and a ban on donations from corporate interests, including foreign donations, significantly weakens Labor’s Bill.

Removing the money from vested interests has to be central to meaningful electoral donations reform.

Perhaps Labor is hoping the Farrell family will be feeling more generous towards them at the next State Election, after their backflip on removing pokies from pubs and clubs?

Labor’s draft Bill also fails to deliver real time donations disclosure.  It contains a provision for a 30 day donations disclosure timeframe.

30 days is about your average campaign length. If Labor is serious about making sure voters knew who is giving how much to which political party, they would have drafted legislation with 7-14 day donation disclosure thresholds.

It has been 15 months since submissions closed for the government’s Electoral Act Review Interim Report. A final report was due in 2019.  

The heel-dragging on reform, from a political party that allowed itself to be bankrolled by the gambling industry in 2018, is noted.

The Liberals embarked on their review process to quieten public debate after their pokies-flushed election win. While it’s regrettable the review has stalled, it is of much larger concern that the review has been designed from the outset to maintain the status quo.

The Gutwein Government can’t use the  COVID-19 recovery as an excuse to avoid dealing with donations reform. It’s possible to walk and chew gum at the same time.

Tasmania has the weakest donation laws in the country. We are the only State without a State-based legislative framework for donations.

We need donation and expenditure caps, bans on corporate donations and donations from foreign interests, and public funding for election campaigns.

The Greens have an oxygen clear and consistent policy on political donations. Unlike Labor and the Liberals, we don’t take corporate donations and we disclose personal donations over $1,500 in real time.

The Greens’ position on electoral reform is outlined in our submission* to the review and addendum** covering constitutional issues.