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Campaign Finance in Australia

Recently, I’ve done a bit of investigation into Campaign finance laws in Australia and, frankly, what I found out was scary.  We have no limit on political donations, and only donations of $10,000 or more need be reported.  That means individuals or organisations can donate up to $9,999 to EACH state and territory party of any particular political party, then again to the national party- a total of almost $90,000- without it being publicly disclosed.

Furthermore, public disclosure only happens 6 months after donations are made.  Given how short our campaign cycle is in Australia, this means elections are well and truly over before the contribution are made public.

This is scary.  It genuinely undermines our democracy.  Given how comparatively little money there is in Australian politics, it is easy for a relatively small sum to be quite influential.  The Howard government changed the minimum disclosure amount from $3000 to $10000 in 2005.

The Greens have been pretty good: they publicly disclose every donation about $500 on their website, though they are under no legal obligation to do so.  But this situation is wrong, and it needs to be amended.  Politicians should not be able to be bought so easily.  We should not have a system that is so comfortable with, and accommodating, of corruption.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/UNSWLJ/2003/1.html

http://www.democraticaudit.anu.edu.au/papers/20061026mayerfin.pdf

http://www.australianreview.net/digest/2007/election/lawrence.html

3 thoughts on “Campaign Finance in Australia

  1. I love that you commented on this from Russia.

    I kind of agree re: political contributions, but surely totally outlawing it would have a prohibition-like effect.

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