Claims the Federal Government’s electoral amendments will clean up our political system are extremely misleading, GetUp has told a parliamentary inquiry today.
Under the Government's proposed Electoral Amendment Bill (better known as the Advocacy Gag Bill) corporations, including those based overseas such as Chevron and Adani, will still be allowed to pump unlimited sums into political party coffers.
GetUp National Director Paul Oosting said large corporate donations to political parties have a corrupting influence on Australian democracy.
“The Turnbull Government claims it’s cleaning up politics yet it’s doing nothing to stop the flood of corporate cash going to political parties.
"Businesses spend political cash to buy influence and improve their profits, not the lives of everyday people,” Mr Oosting said.
Experts and GetUp have told the inquiry in submissions that that the Advocacy Gag Bill would fail to stop a re-run of the recent scandals surrounding foreign funding of politicians and political parties.
Moreover, the Bill doesn't impact donations from foreign-owned multinational corporations. Research from the UTS Business School, released by GetUp on Saturday, showed that more than one third of the Minerals Council of Australia’s members are entirely foreign-owned.
Mr Oosting said the Parliament must reject the proposed bill and instead legislate real reform to:
- Cap political donations and expenditure;
- Ban overseas donations with reference to the source of donations, rather than simply the citizenship of donors, to better capture donations that seek to procure influence for overseas actors;
- Apply that ban to political parties, associated entities and third parties that incur significant political expenditure (from multinational corporations to grassroots organisations like GetUp) but exempt registered charities and unions whose activities are otherwise restricted under existing law;
- Reduce the donations disclosure threshold to $1000 and outlaw donation splitting to promote transparency and accountability;
- Clarify the definition of political expenditure and associated entity to ensure the public can have confidence that all political actors and political activity is being appropriately regulated.
“Electoral law is far too important to be used as a partisan mechanism to attack perceived enemies of the government of the day,” Mr Oosting said.
GetUp’s track record on campaigning for democratic reforms has been and always will be to improve democracy for each and every Australian, not to benefit GetUp. Key campaigns include:
Successfully taking the AEC to the Federal Court to allow online enrolment.
Making a successful High Court challenge to ensure voters could continue to enrol in the 7 days after an election has been called.
Joining South Australia’s Liberal Party leader to call for an overhaul of electoral law in that state.
Running voter enrolment drives at elections to encourage all potential voters to enrol.