Raising awareness about issues like climate change is a key part of facilitating healthy public debate and improving the quality of our democracy.
In response to the Palaszczuk Government’s bill to reform electoral law, Jolene Elberth, Democracy Campaigner at the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), said:
“This bill, if passed, will be among the strongest electoral laws in the country. However, in the process of strengthening accountability the Queensland Government must ensure it doesn’t stifle the ability of charities and community groups to advocate for the common good.
“Caps on political donations and election spending are important steps to limiting the power of big money in politics and stopping undue industry influence on policymaking, which in turn harms our natural world and drives more climate damage.
“Yet, as drafted, these reforms would stifle the legitimate participation of charities and community groups in the public debate during election campaigns on issues like protecting our environment and stopping climate pollution.
“As drafted, the bill would drastically limit philanthropic donations that can be used to advocate for the environment, and other social and economic concerns, at elections.
“In contrast, the bill places no election-time restrictions on the income corporations can use to promote their own narrow interests, which often leads to the destruction of nature and worsening global warming.
“Raising awareness about issues like climate change is a key part of facilitating healthy public debate and improving the quality of our democracy. Restricting public interest advocacy offers no benefit for our democracy.
“Given that these reforms are intended to promote fairness and limit the influence of big money in election debates, putting donation caps on charities is a regressive mistake.
“The Queensland Government should reject donations caps on registered charities to ensure public interest advocacy isn’t hampered by these laws.”