The Palaszczuk Government has welcomed support from corruption experts and stakeholders for its nation-leading electoral reform and integrity laws, which were passed by State Parliament overnight.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said the laws built on the government’s strong record of increasing transparency and accountability.
The reforms in the Electoral and Other Legislation (Accountability, Integrity and Other Matters) Amendment Bill will:
- remove cash for access in Queensland politics
- end the political advertising arms race
- remove plastic bunting from electoral polling stations
“These laws put in place tough consequences, including potential time in jail, for cabinet ministers who deliberately fail to properly declare interests and potential or actual conflicts,” the Attorney-General said.
“They will cap donations and election expenditure, making Queensland a national leader in this field.”
Under the laws, if a cabinet minister acts in a deliberate manner to hide their interests so they or someone they know can gain advantage they could:
- be removed from office;
- face up to two years in prison; and
- face hefty fines.
“No other state in Australia does this,” the Attorney-General said.
“The Federal Government doesn’t do this. No other state government.
“The Palaszczuk Government’s reforms mean Queensland is leading the nation.
“The public expects high standards and that’s what we are delivering.”
The Attorney-General said the sweeping electoral reforms, the strongest in Australia, would ensure Queensland elections aren’t influenced by the highest bidder.
The new laws will see political donations capped at a maximum of $6,000 to candidates of the same party and $4,000 for parties.
“Capping political donations will end cash for access once and for all,” she said.
“The campaign expenditure caps will also put an end to the political advertising arms race
“No one will be able to buy an election with donations or advertising.
“And voters will no longer be bombarded at elections with plastic bunting.”
The Attorney-General said the Palaszczuk Government’s integrity record stood in stark contrast to that of the LNP when Deb Frecklington was an assistant minister.
“We have a proud record of electoral and integrity reform and have already reduced the threshold for disclosure of political donations to $1,000,” she said.
“The LNP fought these reforms tooth and nail, all the way to the High Court, because they wanted to keep the source of their donations secret.
“They also sacked the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Commission in the middle of the night, another clear sign the LNP has no record on integrity worth talking about.”
Third party endorsements
Anthony Whealy QC, chair of the Centre of Public Integrity, has praised the laws, saying:
“Queensland now has one of the strongest schemes in the country regulating money in politics. We congratulate the Queensland Government for acting to limit the corrupting influence of political donations and campaign spending."
Alice Drury, Senior Lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre, said the proposed laws would ensure a fairer democracy for all in Queensland:
“Australians are fed up with the status quo, where politicians prioritise the interests of donors over voters. By stopping big donations to political parties, Queensland could have the best laws in the country for keeping politicians accountable to the people, not those with deep pockets.”
Local Government Association of Queensland CEO Greg Hallam acknowledged the Government for respecting and upholding long-held legal protections in new laws to support an open and transparent environment for local councils to navigate conflicts of interest.
“We must strike the right balance between punishing wrongdoing and providing individuals with natural justice. The laws passed yesterday do this,” Mr Hallam said.
“Making sure our councils can get on with the job their communities elected them to do, while also providing transparency and accountability for the decisions they make, is paramount to ensuring confidence in the local government system in Queensland.”
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice
The Honourable Yvette D'Ath