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Federal donations reform report a missed opportunity

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 9 Dec 2011

Labor and the Coalition parties have missed the opportunity to reform political donations nationally and enhance democracy, says Greens Senator and democracy spokesperson Lee Rhiannon who sat on a federal parliamentary inquiry into political funding which reported today. Key recommendations of Greens dissenting report below. Report here.

"The major parties have failed to take the big steps needed to clean up political donations at a federal level, reluctant to lose their election war chests," Senator Rhiannon said.

"With Queensland and NSW reforming electoral funding laws, it isimperative that federal reforms follow to end the taint of corporate political donations.

"This report fails to recommend caps on election expenditure, a ban on corporate donations or at the very least a ban on donations from controversial industries such as tobacco, gambling, alcohol and property development.

"Failing to close the door on these controversial industries allows the corrupting influence of donations in politics to continue.

 "The inquiry report recommends some small though significant changes to the electoral funding system which have long been advocated by the Greens.

"Lowering the donation disclosure threshold to $1000, and counting all donations to related political parties when determining if a donor has exceeded this threshold, will enhance transparency.

"It is encouraging that the inquiry recommends that any donation of over $100,000 must be disclosed within fourteen days.  However, the decision that this rule will not apply cumulatively to multiple donations from the same donor has created a massive loophole.

"The Greens will continue our long-running campaign to ban corporate political donations, see the public funding of elections while allowing small donations from individuals and enhancing public disclosure.

"It is not too late for the Labor government to show leadership and overhaul the federal system, in line with other western democracies like Canada.

"Supporting the Greens' bill to ban tobacco donations would be a great place to start," Senator Rhiannon said.

Recommendations of the Australian Greens in its dissenting report:
* A ban on all donations from all entities other than individuals.
* A cap on the amount of money that can be donated in a year from a single individual to a political party or candidates.
*  Caps on expenditure by political parties, candidates and third parties.
*  Adequate public funding for political parties, including both funding for election campaigning and for other administrative work of the party, with funding based on the percentage of the vote received by each party.
* Continuous disclosure of all political donations above $1000, within two weeks of all donations being made.

For comment: 0487 350 880. See also the Greens project.

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