Real time disclosure of donations to political parties is a critical reform.
In response to the introduction of two private senators’ bills on political donations reform, Matt Rose, Economy and Democracy Program Manager at the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), said:
"ACF welcomes the introduction of these bills, which we hope will spark a much-needed national conversation around political donations and influence.
"If these bills become law it will be an important step towards greater transparency and will strengthen the integrity of Australia’s electoral system.
"Real time disclosure of donations to political parties is a critical reform.
"Australians have a right to know who is donating to our political parties within a reasonable time frame—not once a year, as is the present situation.
"While real time disclosure is a vital step towards greater transparency and integrity in our political system, the current bill lets industry groups—some of the biggest spenders in elections—off the hook.
"Industry associations like the Minerals Council are some of the biggest players in Australian elections, but because they rely on membership fees, special levies and lavish fundraising dinners rather than donations, they’re let off the hook.
"Unless these transparency measures are extended to membership fees and fundraising, charities and not-for-profits will be held to a far higher standard of accountability and transparency than industry peak groups and the corporations that give to them.
"ACF urges legislators to expand the types of 'gifts' that would be included under real time disclosure so industry and big business are forced to be more transparent."