The office of Senator Lee Rhiannon have commenced a research project into political donations and the current disclosure regime, as part of their ongoing Democracy for Sale project. The report is attached.
The report shows that since 2010, $8 million in donations to political parties has been reported by donors as ‘donations’ but not by the political parties. The amount might not have been disclosed at all, or more commonly it was disclosed as an ‘other receipt’ payment. Payments not classified as donations by parties will not appear in a party donations search on the Australian Electoral Commission’s database.
This research demonstrates serious failings in the donations disclosure regime.
Yesterday, after news that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull lunched with a Mafia associate involved in fundraising for the Liberals, Senator Rhiannon wrote to the Australian Federal Police to request that they investigate the claims.
Senator Rhiannon said, “Mr Yabsley’s comments yesterday put the PM under pressure on the need for electoral funding reform.
“The Democracy for Sale findings are quite extraordinary and underscore the already urgent need for political donations reform.
“The current $12, 800 disclosure threshold allows many big donors and political parties to avoid scrutiny. In theory a donor could donate nearly $1.9 million to a political party and its candidates, spreading the money evenly around, without anyone having to declare anything.
“The Greens have two bills before parliament to reform our political donations system, as well as legislation for a national corruption watchdog to help clean up politics.
“We will continue to campaign hard on this issue up until and beyond the federal election,” Senator Rhiannon said.