Restoring Trust Bill a Step Towards Fair Political Finance Reform


The Australia Institute welcomes independent MP for Curtin Kate Chaney’s Electoral Legislation Amendment (Restoring Trust) Bill, a private member’s bill that would implement key electoral reforms.

The Restoring Trust Bill would advance some of the key principles identified by the Australia Institute and other civil society groups for fair political finance reform:

Reducing the advantages held by political parties by:

  • requiring political parties to comply with data protection and spamming laws
  • setting the same nomination requirements for party candidates as for independents

Reducing the advantages of incumbency by:

  • restricting government advertising
  • ensuring the independence of the postal vote process

Levelling the playing field for independents by:

  • providing for independent campaign entities to be treated like political parties under the Electoral Act.

If passed, the Bill would progress reforms in the Australia Institute’s Democracy Agenda for the 47th Parliament and other Australia Institute reports and submissions:

  • Truth in political advertising laws
  • Limitations on government advertising
  • Lowering the donation disclosure threshold
  • Real-time disclosure laws
  • Requiring corporations to seek shareholder approval before making a political donation
  • Broadening the definition of gift to include other contributions like cash for access and corporate party memberships.

“Kate Chaney’s Restoring Trust Bill would bring transparency to Australia’s lax donation disclosure laws and shine a light on who is funding our parties and politicians,” said Bill Browne, Director of the Australia Institute’s Democracy & Accountability Program.

“In Australia, it is perfectly legal to lie in a political ad – and it shouldn’t be. South Australia’s truth in political advertising laws have operated successfully for almost forty years, and it is time for our federal elections to catch up.

“A healthy, representative democracy requires giving a real choice to Australians at every election, and that requires a level playing field between incumbents and new entrants, and between party-affiliated candidates and independents.

“A parliamentary debate on the Restoring Trust Bill would allow each of these reforms to be considered on its merits and can only increase public trust in the process.”