The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has released it’s report on the Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform Bill, which was referred to the committee last year.
The Bill, which aims to ban foreign donations and requires greater registration and disclosure requirements, has raised concerns that charities will faced increased red-tape and be unable to campaign without being classified as political actors.
The Committee’s report made 15 recommendations for the government to consider. These include reconsidering introducing the term ‘political purpose’ and amending the proposed definition of ‘political expenditure’. The Committee also recommended the Government consider increasing the expenditure thresholds for triggering increased reporting obligations faced by charities.
The committee’s first recommendation was for the government to reconsider introducing the term ‘political purpose’ into the Electoral Act 1918. Secondly, the committee recommended the government amend the definition of ‘political expenditure’ to prevent non-political issue advocacy undertaken by charities from being included. The committee further recommended increased resourcing for the Australian Electoral Commission and the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission to increase charities’ awareness of the current laws and responsibilities which cover charitable organisations under the Electoral Act 1918.