Hidden donations funded the federal election

Recently-released data from the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) for the 2021/22 financial year reveal that $91,320,294 – or 22.74% – of political parties’ declared income over the period is of unexplained origin (‘hidden money’). This brings the total hidden money identified over the period 1998/99 – 20221/22 to $1.53 billion. Read More

A few loud voices

Australian political parties rely considerably on private donations to fund both their routine activities and meet the rising cost of electioneering, but not all donations are made equal. Some individual donations are just a few gold coins, whereas some large institutional donations extend well into the millions. While the former are a sign of healthy democratic engagement, the latter may expose our elected officials to an undue and disproportionate influence from a few loud voices, and thus threaten the integrity and quality of governmental decision making. Read More

A Farewell to Arms Part 2: Designing an effective Commonwealth expenditure cap regime

There are no limits on candidate, party, or third-party expenditure for Commonwealth elections. Expenditure caps make elections more fair, competitive, and open; they also direct our elected representatives’ focus to their constituencies and portfolios rather than to raise funds from donors with ulterior motives. Caps on third-party electoral expenditure, when designed appropriately, are an important way of preventing the undue and inordinate influence of monied interests on discourse and, ultimately, on public policy. Read More

Public hearings: Busting the myth of undue reputational damage

The power to hold public hearings when it is in the public interest to do so is indispensable to the work of an effective integrity commission. Indeed, all states and territories – with the exception of Victoria and South Australia – have acknowledged the importance of this power by conferring it upon their commissions. In spite of this, the recently tabled National Anti-Corruption Commission Bill 2022 (Cth) (‘NACC Bill’) proposes that public hearings should only be able to be held after an additional ‘exceptional circumstances’ threshold is met. Read More

Submission to the Inquiry into the 2022 federal election

The Commonwealth’s political donations laws are the least stringent in the federation. Commonwealth electors have a right to know from whom donations are coming and how large they are. Donations laws should also be amended to limit the amount that can be donated to minimise the prospect of corruption. Read More

Public Appointments Framework

Stacking boards, gifting jobs to political allies, stacking the AAT can all be halted if the Government introduces an independent, merit based process. Read More

Where do political parties get their money?

Where do Australian political parties get their money? How much money does the Coalition receive from fossil fuel companies? How much money does Labor receive from unions? Why do individuals so heavily dominate the Greens’ donations? Read More

Designing the National Integrity Commission

The essential elements of an a fit-for-purpose Commission include; a broad jurisdiction; strong investigative powers; the ability to hold public hearings and report publicly; guaranteed independence; and appropriate oversight Read More

Blueprint to rein in money in politics

The Commonwealth has the weakest donation laws in the country. Disclosure is limited. Last financial year the source of over $68.27 million in party income was hidden from public view. Read More

Online Parliamentary Voting

The limited ability for MPs to participate in Parliament online is putting our Parliamentary democracy at risk, according to former judges and accountability experts. Read More

Code of Conduct

An independently enforceable code of conduct for parliamentarians has been recommended as far back as 1975. It is as relevant today as it was then. Read More

Victoria’s new executive emergency powers must be accountable

Scrutiny of the Government response to COVID-19 – and indeed, future emergency situations – should be strengthened by limiting the use of regulations and legislative instruments, increasing the role of Parliament and primary legislation, and not exempting Directions from disallowance and Committee scrutiny. Read More

Political donations – The resources and energy industry

At a time when public trust in our democracy is low – undermined by a perceived lack of integrity in Australia’s political and bureaucratic processes, weak laws regulating the flow of money and undue influence in government – reform is needed to help strengthen confidence and trust in liberal democracy and the rule of law. Read More