The Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017 (Cth)

Professor Joo-Cheong Tham

Electoral Regulation Research Network (VIC) Seminar

Tuesday 13 February

Event Recording

The Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017 (Cth): Dealing with foreign interference or stifling charities?

Speakers in this recording:

  • Professor Joo-Cheong Tham
ERRN VIC seminar

About the Seminar

In December last year, the federal government tabled the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017 (Cth). This Bill proposes the most significant changes of federal election funding laws for more than a decade. Among others, it proposes to:

  • Establish a registration scheme for ‘political campaigners’, ‘third party campaigners’ and ‘associated entities’;
  • Expand the definition of ‘associated entities’;
  • Require disclosure returns to provide information concerning ‘senior staff’ and ‘discretionary benefits’;
  • Impose restrictions on political donations from foreign bank accounts; and * Impose restrictions on political donations from non-allowable donors.

The government justifies the Bill on the basis that it deals with the problems associated with foreign interference in politics. Many organisations in the charity sector, however, claim that the Bill will stifle their political advocacy.

Where does the truth lie?

The seminar explained the complex detail of the Bill and provide a principles-based evaluation. It will be concluded that while certain aspects of the Bill are welcome, much of it is over-broad and unjustified - especially the restrictions relating to non-allowable donors other than foreign governments.

Joo-Cheong’s presentation draws on his submission to the inquiry of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matter into the Bill.

The event slides can be viewed here.

The Speakers

Joo-Cheong Tham is a Professor at Melbourne Law School. He is one of Australia’s leading experts on political funding with his publications including Money and Politics: The Democracy We Can’t Afford (2010, UNSW Press) and key reports for the New South Wales Electoral Commission on the regulation of political finance and lobbying. He also specializes in the regulation of precarious work and has undertaken considerable research into counterterrorism laws. JooCheong regularly speaks at public forums and has presented lectures at the Commonwealth, South Australian and Victorian Parliaments. He has also given evidence to parliamentary inquiries into labour migration, terrorism laws and political finance laws.