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Donations Disclosure Laws

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Tags: Democracy, Political Donations, Transparency

Ms O'CONNOR question to the PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN

Tasmanians still do not know how many millions the gambling industry poured into your reelection campaign in order to guarantee it profits until 2043, at least. Most Tasmanians know we have the weakest donations disclosure laws in the country. The UTAS Institute for the Study of Social Change has today handed down a report outlining the need for restored transparency and trust in Tasmanian electoral system. Do you agree more transparency and trust is needed? What is your response to the institute's call for the disclosure on all donations over $1000, including for third parties, near real-time donations disclosure, that there be caps on expenditure and that Tasmania join every other Australian jurisdiction and enact of modest public funding regime to level the playing field? Do you agree these reforms would strengthen Tasmania's democracy?



Madam Speaker, I thank the Leader of the Greens for the question. Yes, certainly, the Government is committed to reviewing our Electoral Act, as members would be aware, having passed improvements through the first tranche of amendments to the Electoral Act and that we took very swift action to deal with those reforms. A number of submissions were received and I acknowledge the Institute for the Study of Social Change and Professor Eccleston, for whom I have the greatest respect, for their contribution to the debate, and the very measured and balanced way a number of reform options have been put forward in that submission. It is one of a number of submissions that have been received as part of our consultation process into future reforms and we do welcome that.

All the submissions, as well as this, will inform recommendations contained in the final report. Unlike others, the Government recognises that appropriate process needs to be followed and all stakeholders should have the opportunity to have their submissions considered. We do not want to preempt, as the member is asking us to do, the outcomes of that proper process or the final recommendations made to Government. We are particularly conscious of any reform to these laws, which will be carefully considered and measured to ensure that no one party is advantaged over the other.

Ms O'Connor interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor, I ask you to restrain your passion, please. This is warning number one.

Mr HODGMAN - Notwithstanding the high moral ground that some political representatives take in this matter, many people in the community would be highly suspicious when one party demands of another a certain reform because it is most likely to come from a position of selfinterest. We need to strike the right balance and ensure that what we do is in the interests of our state. There is a number of matters that have required the need to extend our consultation to take into account court decisions at a national level, which are not insignificant.

The matter the member raises is worthy or considerable consultation and consideration, and that is whether public funding might be a part of any future reforms. That is a matter in which the Tasmanian taxpayer would have a considerable degree of interest.

I note the advocacy of the Greens for this and I am not sure what Labor's position is. We suggest very strongly that having to fund or being asked to fund Tasmanian elections would be a matter of some interest to them. It is appropriate that proper process be undertaken, clear and objective advice received, and a final report and its recommendations forwarded to Government. We will further consult with the community, including the Greens and other interested parties, to strike the right balance to make improvements and reforms to our electoral system that deliver many of the objectives this report refers to.