City Hub

Political donations bill debated in NSW Parliament

Member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich. Source: nswparliament

Bipartisan support has emerged in the State Parliament of New South Wales for a bill to close a major election funding loophole.

In the wake of the Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation into statewide political corruption, the Election Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Consequential Amendment Bill aims to force disclosure of all donations of more than $1000 from corporations, peak industry groups and organisations.

The bill seeks to amend a loophole created by a High Court decision in December last year which made donations from corporations, industrial organisations and industry groups lawful.

However, laws drafted at the time did not require the disclosure of any of those funds.

Independent Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich welcomed Premier Mike Baird’s move to ensure all political donations are properly disclosed.

“Without this legislation the public would never know about donations from the big end of town to the major parties,” Mr Greenwich said.

“Following my meeting with the Electoral Funding Authority earlier in the year, I raised this matter repeatedly with the Government and it is good to finally see action.”

Mr Baird commended the bill to the house in late May in an effort to regulate all political donations.

“There is, of course, more work to be done to change the culture of hidden influence and misplaced expectations of access that appear to follow even modest political donations in this State,” Mr Baird said.

Alongside the bill, the premier announced an expert panel to investigate funding of NSW political parties, covering public funding models, expenditure caps and breach penalties.

Greens MP John Kaye criticised the panel for an ineffectual reporting date which would prevent reform before the 2015 State election.

“Mike Baird’s expert panel on donations reform is more a pressure release valve than a genuine attempt to clean up politics in NSW,” Dr Kaye said.

“Donations will continue to pour in from dodgy sources, with no public accountability until it is too late.”

A High Court decision last year saw Unions NSW successfully argue previous bans on corporate donations infringed an implied constitutional freedom of political communication.

Mr Greenwich said the Independent Commission Against Corruption hearings backed continual reform within the political donation system to prevent undue influence.

“Transparency and accountability of political donations is essential for confidence in the political process.”

Related Posts