The Palaszczuk Government has condemned the Federal Coalition Government’s plans to override Queensland’s tough political donation laws by stealth.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said the Federal Government had snuck several amendments into their Electoral Funding and Disclosure Bill, which could override Queensland’s $1000 disclosure threshold and Queensland’s ban on developer donations.
These amendments have been criticised by constitutional law experts who say they go “too far”, “appeared out of the blue” and undermine State efforts “to protect the integrity of representative government from the dangers of political money.”
“The Prime Minister needs to dump this outrageous proposal now,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“They’ve tried to sneak these changes through but have been caught out.
“This would undermine years of reform in Queensland.
“This will return Queensland to the rules brought in by Campbell Newman and Jarrod Bleijie, where 94% of donations went undisclosed.
“Under Campbell Newman, politicians could accept cash donations of at least $12000, without the need to disclose it to anyone.
“That disclosure figure is now $13,800 under Federal laws.
“These retrograde reforms will strip Queenslanders of the right to know who is making donations to political parties,” Mrs D’Ath said.
Queensland has some of the most open and transparent political donations laws in the country, but the LNP are fighting them from every angle.
“The LNP have fought every step to avoid disclosing their donations to the public and have taken the Electoral Commission to Court to keep their donors secret,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“Now the LNP is going to the extraordinary lengths of passing laws to hide their political donations and bring back donations from developers.
“They obviously have something to hide.”
One of the first Bills introduced to the Parliament by the Palaszczuk Labor Government when it was first elected was a Bill that restored the donation disclosure threshold to $1,000, from the $12,800 under the previous LNP Government.
In February 2017, the Palaszczuk Government launched Australia's first real-time electronic electoral returns disclosure system, so that voters could know who was donating to political parties before they voted.
In May 2018 the Palaszczuk Government banned donations from property developers.
“First the Queensland LNP tried to stop our laws by challenging them in the Supreme Court, then in the Court of Appeal, then a separate action in the High Court and now they’re moving amendments in Federal Parliament,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“They won’t stop until they can hide their donations.
“This is not a party that supports transparency and accountability.”
The Federal Government will reportedly introduce its Electoral Funding and Disclosure Bill – including those amendments which were not subject to any consultation nor approved by the bi-partisan committee – this week.
“When the former Turnbull government announced their committee inquiry, they announced that “transparency regarding political donations was necessary to ensure Australians had full confidence in the electoral system,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“These amendments show that political transparency is not a priority for the Morrison Government.”
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice
The Honourable Yvette D'Ath