It's time to fight back!
And it's not just GetUp under threat – community groups, civil society organisations and even charities are in the firing line.
The bill containing these attacks is deliberately convoluted – because the hard right are trying to disguise it as a "national security measure". It's a clever ploy intended to head off opposition and obscure the truth at the heart of the legislation.
If we're to see this bill defeated in the Senate we need to expose it for what it really is by mounting a huge Statement of Opposition – signed by tens of thousands of people – and delivering it to every single MP in Parliament.
Will you add your name today?
- Creating an unfair playing field in lobbying and advocacy. Civil society and charities are gagged while multinational corporations continue to have a free reign to spend up big buying political influence.
- Creating an illegitimate restriction on international philanthropy. Some issues are global. Climate change and infectious disease are borderless – and human rights are a universal concern. It's perfectly legitimate for individuals or philanthropic foundations based outside of Australia to contribute to organisations inside Australia working to address these important issues. This legislation would prevent that. The Bill would also have a chilling effect on free political speech by forcing organisations to choose between international funding or political advocacy, with vague definitions of what constitutes advocacy, and harsh penalties (including up to 10 years in prison!) for getting it wrong.
- Attacking our fundamental democratic freedoms. The "GetUp clause" would rob GetUp members of their political independence by forcing GetUp to formally affiliate with one or more political parties, simply because of perceived policy similarities or shared campaign priorities. This is an attack on the right of GetUp members to engage in public discourse independent of any political party.
- Imposing significant compliance costs on charities. It forces charities to spend more of the donations they receive on administration rather than on the people they serve.
- Creating dangerous new subcategories for political campaigners and third party campaigners which creates two tiers of charities and paves the way for future draconian regulation.
- Gutting funding for small parties and campaigning organisations. The Bill forces donors to small parties and campaigning orgs to prove that their contributions are "allowable", by providing a statutory declaration stating that they are a citizen or permanent resident, if their contributions exceed $250 in a single year. This would capture people who donate as little as $4.80 per week. The penalties for not complying with this unreasonable regulation are excessive, involving massive fines and jail terms comparable to offences like arms trafficking. This would effectively gut funding for organisations that rely on large numbers of small donations,and would further advantage large donors and massive corporations.
The bottom line is that the Bill will do nothing to fix the problems it is supposed to – while massively restricting the ability of ordinary citizens to participate in democracy and have a voice in Australian politics. Worse, the problematic features of the Bill are so deeply embedded in its drafting that they can't be amended out of it. The Bill is fundamentally anti-democratic and must be rejected outright.
Just 2% of the bill's text deals with limiting offshore campaign contributions in Australian politics, with the remaining 98% imposing harsh restrictions on GetUp members, charities, civil society and and even minor political parties.
The 2% that does actually deal with offshore campaign contributions is weak and ineffectual. For example, the dodgy campaign contributions that saw Sam Dastyari resign from the Senate this month would still be allowed if this bill became law.
- It gives multinational corporations – the real source of offshore corruption in Australia – a massive boost in political influence, by leaving their ability to fill campaign coffers untouched and crippling the ability of everyday people to oppose them.
It's worth noting, however, that GetUp doesn't get many foreign donations – only around 0.5% of our lifetime contributions have been from overseas.
SIGN THE STATEMENT OF OPPOSITION
Statement of Opposition to the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017:
The right of everyday people to participate in politics is paramount to a healthy, democratic society.
We therefore call on every member of Parliament to reject this dangerous bill in its entirety.