The Hon Ben Morton MP
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Minister for the Public Service
Special Minister of State
Date: Monday, 22 November 2021
The Morrison Government is safeguarding the electoral process by requiring greater transparency from political actors seeking to influence voters.
The Electoral Legislation Amendment (Political Campaigners) Bill 2021 brings additional actors who are not political parties or candidates but are seeking to influence elections into the AEC’s transparency register.
Special Minister of State the Hon Ben Morton said the Bill enhances public confidence in Australia’s political processes, and close loopholes that currently exist for non-political parties in disclosure requirements.
“The Morrison Government is expanding the application of the terms ‘political campaigner’ and ‘associated entity,’ removing the current work-around tactics for entities that seek to avoid disclosure”, said Minister Morton.
‘Political campaigners’ must meet disclosure requirements to ensure transparent conduct of the electoral process.
Currently, individuals and organisations can avoid these requirements through exploiting loopholes in the definitions or thresholds.
“This means we have political fundraising vehicles hiding in the dark, not disclosing their funding sources, unbound by Australia’s foreign donations framework, risking the integrity of our elections,” said Minister Morton.
Under the changes, an individual or organisation must register as a political campaigner if they spend $100,000 on electoral matter in a financial year – reduced from $500,000.
They must also register if their expenditure meets the disclosure threshold and is at least one-third of their revenue for the previous financial year.
“This Bill ensures consistency in funding disclosure requirements for entities that are seeking to influence an election, bringing them into line with the same strong disclosure standards that apply political parties,” said Minister Morton
“The changes will not curtail in any way the freedom to participate in political activity.
“Instead, it provides, and incentivises greater transparency, providing Australian electors better information about political actors who seek to influence their voting decisions, and the outcomes of Australian elections.”
Individuals and organisations meeting the new definitions will also be required to comply with the foreign donations framework – the same requirements that currently exist for political parties.
This Bill responds to a recommendation of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) in its report on the conduct of the 2019 federal election.