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Electoral Disclosure and Funding Bill 2023

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 16 November 2023

Tags: Electoral Reform, Legislation

Dr WOODRUFF - The Greens do not have such a rosy view on this day. We think it is a bad day for democracy. It is a perfect example of what Tasmanians are sick of in politicians, that is seeing the major parties collude to bring in the nation's weakest donation electoral reform bill. It is such a low bar with the Labor Party. Independents and civil society have been really clear that this can only be seen as an enormous backflip by the Labor Party and its stated commitment to making changes.

The Labor Party was going in front of the media spinning that the only reason it was not voting for all the amendments, not proposing all the amendments it had promised Tasmanians and other members in this place, was because it wanted to hasten it through the House. Labor could not afford for it to come back down to the lower House with amendments because if it came back to the lower House with amendments, the Government might never bring it on.

Yet here we are today, and here it is down here in this place with amendments. We could have had a raft of amendments that the -

Opposition members interjecting.


Dr WOODRUFF - You would not possibly want to put up something that was not supported like mandatory minimum sentencing, for example.

Ms Haddad - He would never have brought it back.

Dr WOODRUFF - If Liberals want it, you will vote with it. You will vote with it every time because you always do.

Ms Haddad - They would be dead in the water and we would have nothing.

Dr WOODRUFF - They want the stadium. You will vote it through. They want mandatory minimum sentencing. You will do their job for them.

Ms Haddad - You know they would never have got those amendments back from the lower House.

Dr WOODRUFF - They want electoral reforms and you will back them and do the same thing. There you were in the upper House signalling to Tasmanians in the lower House that -

Ms Haddad interjecting.


Dr WOODRUFF - You were going to be bringing through strong laws and you did nothing, Ms Haddad. You talked about it, 'One day Labor is going to bring in another bill and we are going to do it, just wait until we are in government, we will do the right thing'. We have heard it all before. There is no difference.

Ms Haddad - We could wait until you are in government.


Dr WOODRUFF - What is the point in Tasmanians thinking there is any difference between the two of you. A pox on both of your Houses because you are doing nothing.

Mr Winter - Give us some credit.

Mr DEPUTY CHAIR - Order, Mr Winter, through the Chair please.

Dr WOODRUFF - I acknowledge the civil society who have been working for so long. I cannot name them all but I know that the Tasmanian [inaudible 4.16.28] has been following all this stuff, as has the Australia Institute, as have so many other people who have been working tirelessly for years to improve Tasmania's electoral reform. Do you know why? Because we have seen what happens election after election when these two parties get bored: the money flows in from the big corporates. It flows in from Federal Hotels and it pays for the 2018 election campaign.

The Labor Party learnt that they better do what their pipers pay them to do. They did it after the 2018 election. They backed down from their pokies position and signed a secret deal with the THA. That is exactly the sort of action that Tasmanians want to understand. They want it there in real time. They want to see the money flowing into the Labor Party. They want to see it flowing into the Liberal Party.

They want to know where the big salmon corporate money goes? Where does JBS? Where does Cooke Agriculture? Who are they funding in this state? What about the private health bodies with the Liberal Party? What about their sweet deals that they do with private health institutions? We want to know who is paying them? That is exactly what this bill could have had in it. It could have had money in it to ban corporates like tobacco and gambling.

Ms Haddad - We would never have seen it brought back to this place by the Government.

Dr WOODRUFF - That is what it should have been. Property developers, that is what should have been in there. That is what the Labor Party talked big about.

Do not worry, Tasmanians, after the next election when have we all the money, we have raked it in from the property developers, salmon companies, the gamblers and Federal Hotels, after that, trust us, we will be strong then. Just like we will be strong one day on the stadium, just like we will be strong on all the other things they virtue signal to Tasmanians.

It has been sickening to see Tasmanian Labor and the Liberal Party come together, just like they did in 1998 when they shut down 10 members of the House and reduced the numbers by 10 because the Greens were continually getting five members in this place. Their whole job is to shut down the Greens and Independent voices in this place.

That is exactly what we have seen in this bill. Every single amendment they promised to bring on in the upper House. They did not put up and they voted against the very things they said they would bring. They could have been in here. They had a little chat with the Liberals, 'What would you like in the bill? We really want to make sure that it comes down, we want to make sure if it is an amendment that you agree with everything here because we would not possibly like to actually pressure you to do anything you do not want to do'.

Here we are. We do not have a cap on electoral spending in this bill. We do not have a threshold below $5000. We do not have any cap on the number of donations a single donor can make. They can make unlimited $5000 donations. They can make as many $5000 donations, $4999 donations, and we will never find out who is paying them. That would be convenient. We do not know how much money they will get from JBS and Cooke and Federal Hotels leading up to the next election because they will not have to tell people because that is what they have organised with the Liberals and they are voting it through in the way it is.

We also will not have truth in political advertising. That is what this bill should have had in it. There will be no truth in political advertising in Tasmania. We could have had that too. That would have made a difference. We will not have a ban on naming candidates during an election campaign so candidates can say whatever they want and be as untruthful as they like and as the act currently is, no member of the public will be able to reference a candidate by name unless they have had the approval of the candidate. Isn't that convenient? Labor candidates and Liberal candidates can say whatever they want and no-one can hold them to account.

It is only the Greens and the majority of Independents in Tasmania who care about integrity, who actually say and do the same thing, as opposed to the Labor Party who is always saying one thing and doing something else, and as opposed to the Liberals who are always saying they will do something and then hide what they are really doing; they are just secretive about it. The Labor Party does a public backflip on a regular basis.

The bill before us has none of the things Tasmanians needed. After all this time, all this pain, all these years of promising to reform, starting with Will Hodgman, here we are now, thanks to the Labor Party not doing their job in the other place and thanks to them scuttling the work of Independents up there, we do not have a proper electoral reform bill. What a shame.

We will be waiting to hear what the media release is from the Labor Party. They can rub their hands with glee. They will be claiming that they have saved Tasmania from the Liberals, saved Tasmania from the pit of the lowest bar in Australia. We are still the lowest. This is still an appallingly weak set of legislative reform on election disclosures and on truth. Now more than ever we need major parties that were strong. We need an opposition actually that was an opposition, but instead they have just worked with the Government -

Ms Haddad - We need a government that would bring those amendments back here and they never would. They would die on the notice paper.


Dr WOODRUFF - and matched it in the worst possible way. I find it incredible that Mr Winter was lecturing us about doing deals with the Government and what we got was more scrutiny for GBEs and yet here they are doing deals with the Government and what we have is appalling electoral donation reform. They should be ashamed of themselves for doing a great job of shutting things down and making sure that the money goes where they want it to go and we do not get to hear who is paying them, because that is what this legislation does. It makes it impossible to find out who is actually paying and if we do not know who is paying the big amounts of money that they get given, according to one of the members in the other place, the practice can only be seen as bribery.