Law Council of Australia

Legal Practice Section

Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Real Time Disclosure of Political Donations) Bill 2019

The submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters on the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Real Time Disclosure of Political Donations) Bill 2019 prepared by the Charities and Not-for-Profit Committee of the Legal Practice Section.

The Bill proposes a new section 305C to the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) (the Act). This proposed new section would apply to registered political parties, their state branches and political campaigners.

There are a number of charities which, because the definition of electoral matter can encompass issues-based communications, may meet the threshold to require registration as a political campaigner under the Act. These charities take a non-partisan role at election time, engaging the public in the issues that are important to their charitable purpose, and providing important education for the public in those issues at the time of elections. Section 305B of the Act currently provides that if a gift is made to a political campaigner, and the gift is over the disclosure threshold, the maker of the gift must make a return to the Electoral Commission. However, subsection 305B(6) provides that if the political campaigner is a registered charity and the gift was not used on electoral expenditure, then there is no requirement for disclosure. With regard to annual returns required to be lodged by political campaigners describing gifts over the threshold, section 314AC of the Act provides a like exemption for registered charities.

You can read the full submission below. 


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