Media release 20th June 2023

Experts have welcomed the JSCEM interim report recommending the implementation of donations and spending caps.

Analysis by the Centre for Public Integrity shows that donations and spending are at unprecedented levels:

  • Big donors are having a disproportionate influence on our democracy, with the top 5 individual donors contributing 70 per cent of all donations in 2021-22. This is up from 20 per cent in 2005-06.
  • Spending in elections has increased 84.7% since 1998-99, reaching a record high of $439 million in 2021-22

The JSCEM interim report presents an opportunity to put caps on donations and spending for the first time.

“Elections are at risk of becoming nothing more than auctions, where the biggest donors and the biggest spenders win the day,” said Geoffrey Watson SC. 

“Spending is at an all time high. The top 5 donors contributed 70% of donations. Money in politics is getting out of control,” said Mr Watson.

“Reform in this area is now urgent. It is great to see JSCEM taking the first step in recommending change. The Government must now implement these recommendations in a way that is fair for all participants,” said Mr Watson.

“We must act now to stop the arms race –  we welcome JSCEM’s recommendations to put caps on donations and spending,” said Professor Joo Cheong Tham. 

“Reform in this area needs to be holistic. With caps in place we also need to limit the incumbency advantage and make public funding fairer,” said Professor Tham.

“This is a historic opportunity to fundamentally reform decrepit federal political finance laws,” said Professor Tham.

For more information read our research paper How big money is still calling the shots: an analysis of the 2022 Federal election or read our submission to the JSCEM Inquiry

For comment                Han Aulby     0427 079 729