Funding and Disclosure Report - Election 1998: Part 8 Summary Of Recommendations

Updated: 6 January 2011

Recommendations

Recommendation 1

Require disclosure by donors who have made donations of $1 000 or more to Senate groups the members of which have not all been endorsed by the one registered political party and disclosure by those donors of any donations they received of $1 000 or more which they used, in whole or in part, to incur expenditure for a political purpose.

Recommendation 2

Amend the requirement for a third party to lodge a return of donations received to instances where those donations were used in whole or in part on electoral expenditure or donations made which are required to be disclosed by the third party for that same election.

Recommendation 3

Abolish the requirement for broadcasters and publishers to lodge disclosure returns following an election or referendum.

Recommendation 4

The party agent or, in the absence of a registered party agent those persons who currently form or last formed the party's Executive Committee be required to lodge an annual return within 16 weeks of the date of deregistration of the party covering the period from 1 July until the date of deregistration.

The financial controller of an associated entity should be required to lodge a return covering the period up to the deregistration of the political party that it was associated with, or the period up to when the associated entity ceases operations, as the case may be.

Recommendation 5

Persons who fail to make or maintain such records as enables them to comply with the disclosure provisions of the Act be subject to the same penalty provisions as apply to persons who fail to retain records.

Recommendation 6

The definition of an associated entity be clarified by inserting the following interpretations into the Act:

  • 'controlled' to include the right of a party to appoint a majority of directors or trustees;
  • 'to a significant extent' to mean the receipt by a political party of more than 50% of the distributed funds, entitlements or benefits enjoyed and/or services provided by the associated entity in a financial year; and
  • 'benefit' to include the receipt of favourable, non-commercial terms and instances where the party ultimately enjoys the benefit.

Recommendation 7

The prohibition on the receipt of an 'anonymous donation' be extended to associated entities on the same basis as for those made to registered political parties.

Recommendation 8

The payment of a guarantee to be deemed to be a gift for the purposes of the disclosure provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act.

Recommendation 9

Raise the threshold at which donors to political parties are required to disclose gifts received and used by them, either in whole or in part, to fund their gifts to a registered political party from $1 000 or more to $1 500 or more to maintain a consistent value at which the Act deems disclosure necessary.

Recommendation 10

The threshold at which donors to political parties are required to disclose gifts received of $1 000 or more (or $1 500 or more if the above recommendation is accepted) to include two or more gifts from the same source which together exceed that threshold.

Recommendation 11

Donors to political parties above a predetermined threshold be subjectto compliance audits.

Recommendation 12

Contingent debts be treated identically to current debts for disclosure purposes.

Recommendation 13

The Australian Electoral Commission be given express legislative authority to:

  • conduct reviews of the continuing eligibility of registered political parties;
  • specify the documentation it requires parties to produce in support of their application for registration and their continued right to remain registered; and
  • deregister a political party if it fails to produce the documentation requested by the AEC in support of its continuing right to remain registered

Recommendation 14

The definition of a member of a political party be expanded to include the requirements for a person to have:

  • been formally accepted as a member according to the party's written rules;
  • joined the party or renewed their membership within the previous 12 months; and
  • paid a minimum annual membership fee of $5.00

Recommendation 15

Consideration be given to amending the provision for a political party qualifying for registration on the basis of having one or more members who are members of a Federal or State parliament or a Territory legislature as an alternative to having 500 members, to either:

  • remove the option from the Act altogether;
  • restrict Members of Parliament to only be able to lend their name to a single political party for registration purposes; or
  • restrict this option to only members of the Federal Parliament

Recommendation 16

The Act provide the Australian Electoral Commission with the power to set standard, minimum rules which would apply to registered political parties where the party's own constitution is silent or unclear.