Tasmania’s leading civil society organisations have today published full-page ads in The Mercury, The Examiner and The Advocate calling for both houses of the Tasmanian Parliament to strengthen the long-awaited electoral reforms and pass them without further delay.
The Australia Institute, Unions Tasmania and the CPSU, TasCOSS, the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Human Rights Law Centre are among the 15 organisations that say the Electoral Disclosure and Funding Bill 2022 and the Electoral Matters (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2022 currently before Parliament do not go far enough to create a transparent, effective system for the regulation of political donations and influence.
The letter comes as the Bills are set to be voted on in Tasmania’s Legislative Council. Labor has announced it will withdraw its support for proposed amendments to both Bills and also for key amendments proposed by independent MLCs.
Australia Institute research ahead of the last Tasmanian state election found 87% of Tasmanians want truth in political advertising laws and 73% want a ban on the gambling industry making political donations.
The letter says Bills must be strengthened by:
- Requiring truth in political advertising;
- Significantly lowering the proposed donation threshold from $5,000 and guaranteeing real-time disclosure of political donations;
- Fixing the proposed public funding model for campaigns so that it does not favour incumbent MPs over new entrants;
- Broadening the definition of “gift” to capture all payments that might influence politicians;
- Requiring third-party campaigners to disclose relevant donations regardless of when they were made during the electoral cycle;
- Parliament inquiring into a ban on donations from developers and the fossil fuel, tobacco and gambling industries.
“The Tasmanian legislation as currently drafted does not go anywhere near creating a transparent, effective system,” said Eloise Carr, Director of the Australia Institute Tasmania.
“If passed in their current forms, the Bills will leave us with some of the weakest political donations laws in the country, and it will remain legal to lie in political ads.”
“Truth is fundamental to democracy. The public needs to be able to make informed decisions about who and which parties they want to represent them,” said Bill Browne, Director of the Australia Institute’s Democracy & Accountability Program.
“With an early election looming, Tasmania needs transparent and effective electoral laws, and the Bills in their current forms are not fit for purpose.”