Originally published by Chris Knaus in the Guardian 18th October
A group of ex-judges, anti-corruption commissioners, and experts have laid out a blueprint for improving political and democratic integrity in the wake of this year’s election.
The Centre for Public Integrity used a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters to argue there was “ample evidence” of the need for integrity reform, pointing to the $70m campaign spend by Clive Palmer and the post-political appointments of Christopher Pyne and Julie Bishop.
The centre, chaired by former NSW judge Anthony Whealy QC, wants parties and candidates to report all single donations of $1,000 or above or aggregated contributions of $3,000 over three years.
The current threshold is $14,000. Donations should be disclosed to the public in real-time and include income from “party fundraisers, corporate sponsorship of business forums, and membership fees over $600 per year”.
Electoral expenditure should be capped, and advertising limited by
the finance or attorney-general’s department, which would purchase
advertising space and distribute it to parties, candidates, and third
The centre also wants to see stronger post-separation employment bans apply to former ministers and parliamentary secretaries, preventing them from lobbying-related activities for five years in any area linked to their former portfolio.
The ban would be enforced by an independent parliamentary integrity commissioner.
“The Commonwealth has the weakest integrity laws in the country. Reform is crucial in the wake of the 2019 federal election,” Whealy said.
The Centre for Public Integrity board includes ex-judges Tony Fitzgerald QC, David Ipp QC, Stephen Charles QC and Whealy, professors George Williams and Joo Cheong Tham, and barrister Geoffrey Watson SC.