The Government's Green Paper on electoral reform released just before Christmas was at least straight-faced in acknowledging the problem:
"Clearly the major point of public disclosure, particularly in the absence of comprehensive regulation through bans or caps on financial activities, is to allow the public to form judgements about political parties and candidates and to apply that knowledge in exercising their franchise at the ballot box. However, the.. considerable time lags (permitted by current requirements for reporting and public disclosure) do not allow the voting public to be informed of election campaign finances at the end point of those campaigns when casting their vote." (emphasis added)
Submissions on the Paper close on 23 February.
Minister Faulkner has amendments before Parliament for six-monthly reporting, with donors and parties to have eight weeks to lodge returns and information to be publicly available promptly. Still far too gentle to my mind. And to others. Bernard Keane in Crikey:
"The only problem with Faulkner’s proposals are their lack of ambition. There is no reason why disclosure of donations shouldn’t and couldn’t be required far more often than six-monthly. Nick Xenophon has called for continuous online disclosure during election campaigns. That model could be extended to all donations to political parties and candidates. Why does anyone need more than a few days to report that they’ve given politicians some money?"