The ‘nation’s strictest donations laws’? Proposed reforms to Victorian political finance laws

Ms Suzie Thoraval, Dr Paul Thornton-Smith and Professor Joo-Cheong Tham

Electoral Regulation Research Network (VIC) Seminar

Thursday 7 June

Event Recording

The ‘nation’s strictest donations laws’?  Proposed reforms to Victorian political finance laws

Speakers in this recording:

  • Suzie Thoraval
  • Professor Joo-Cheong Tham
07.06 Seminar

About the Seminar

In May this year, the Andrews Victorian government tabled the Electoral Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 (Vic). The Bill proposes to regulate Victorian political funding in five ways: caps on ‘political donations’; obligations to disclose these donations; a ban on ‘foreign’ ‘political donations’; increases in public funding of parties and candidates; and new compliance measures. According to the Premier, this Bill ‘will introduce the strictest and most transparent political donation laws in Australia’. The Victorian Special Minister of State has claimed that ‘(t)hese tough new donation laws will be the strictest and most transparent in the country’ – reforms that were ‘long overdue’. For the State Attorney-General, ‘(t)he Bill . . . marks a new era of transparency and accountability’. How well do the claims of the government stand against scrutiny? More fundamentally, will the Bill, as stated in its purposes, ‘enhance the integrity of the electoral system’? This seminar will explain the complex detail of the Bill and assesses its impact upon the health of Victorian democracy.

The Speakers

Suzie Thoraval is the Director, Funding and Disclosure Implementation at the Victorian Electoral Commission. Her most recent previous role was as the Chief Risk Officer at the Department of Premier and Cabinet. She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and holds a Masters and Bachelor of Law (Honours) and Bachelor of Arts. Suzie has led effective transformational change in major legislative reform, enterprise risk management and procurement reform in high profile Government agencies, engaging stakeholders at a range of levels to achieve change. Suzie has private, public and academic sector legal, policy and operational experience in Australia and internationally.

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 counter-terrorism laws. Joo-Cheong 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. Joo-Cheong's presentation will be based on his analysis of the Electoral Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 (VIC) available at: http://insidestory.org.au/it-depends-what-you-mean-by-political-donations