Electoral and Referendum Amendment Bill 2005
This bill was introduced into parliament by the Coalition on 8 Dec, 2005. It was passed in the Senate on the 21st of June 2006. It will be effective from the 1 July 2006.
The bill arose out of some of the government-supported recommendations of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters report on the 2004 election.
Effect of the Bill on Electoral Donations
- Raises the Threshhold for Disclosure
The threshold for disclosure of donations to registered political parties or independent candidates or members in relation to Commonwealth, state or territory elections will rise from the current $1 500 to $10 000. Therefore, a higher proportion of donations will be able to be made privately.
This aspect of the bill will amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, especially Sections 305, 305A, 305B and 314AEC.
The Government has explained its motives as bringing Australia into line with comparable countries, protecting individual and corporate rights to privacy and adjusting the current amount for inflation.
- Increases tax-deductibility
The bill increases the level of tax deductible political contributions from $100 to $1 500 in any income year. This will apply to both individual and corporate donors.
This will lead to an amendment of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997, with the insertion of a new Subdivision 30-DA.
The Government believes this provision of tax relief will encourage participation in the democratic process.
However, opponents argue that the bill will skew political influence to the wealthier in society who have greater capacity to make donations who will also receive a proportionately higher subsidy.
For Further Reading
Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Electoral Integrity and Other Measures) Bill 2005: http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/PIWeb/Repository/Legis/Bills/Linked/22050600.pdf
Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters – Inquiry into the Conduct of the 2004 Federal Election Report: www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/em/elect04/report.htm
Analytical Articles and Criticisms: http://democratic.audit.anu.edu.au/categories/electoralfrm.htm