The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has released its report on the proposed amendments to the Electoral Funding and Reform Bill, referred to the Committee in September 2018.
The Committee, having considered the Bill in its original form earlier this year, was encouraged to see that all of its recommendations on the Bill had been adopted by the Government.
Committee Chair, Senator the Hon. James McGrath, said that the Committee had come together in an effort to safeguard the integrity and equity of Australia’s democratic process.
“Preventing foreign interference in Australia’s electoral process is vital and Australia lags behind other western democracies in regulating foreign donations. At a time when trust and confidence in democracy is declining, greater transparency in our electoral process is essential,” Senator McGrath said.
In response to wide-reaching consultation, many amendments addressed earlier concerns regarding the Bill’s possible effects on charities and not-for-profits.
“We believe in an Australian democracy that represents Australian interests. However, protection against foreign interference cannot be done by stifling lively, good-natured debate or vital charitable efforts. We have heard from a broad cross-section of societal organisations and have made recommendations which we believe will strengthen our democracy without silencing these crucial voices.
“The recommendations we have made will help the Government further clarify the intent of the Bill, particularly the explanatory memorandum. This Bill is not about unnecessary red-tape, but rather about who can influence Australia’s elections and the manner in which they can do so and the meaning of the Bill must be made clear to all.”
The report is now available on the Committee’s website.