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Monday, March 31, 2008

Proposed political donation reform hardly best practice

It's well and good that Special Minister of State John Faulkner has announced plans to introduce legislation to fix some aspects of the loopholes in laws relating to political donations and public funding, but it's hardly a big deal that disclosures will be required every six months rather than once a year. The Canberra Times reports Senator Faulkner:
"hailed the doubled frequency of the reporting of donations, saying they would likely be made public only eight weeks after each six-month period. Previous the 12 month reporting period had been extended up to 19 months. "This is very, very different and very, very significant," he said".
Different it may be, but why shouldn't we expect something even closer to real time reporting and public disclosure. There are many examples around the world where more stringent requirements are in place. Here is one example from Ontario Canada:
Reports of contributions in excess of $100 and contributions from a single source that in the aggregate exceed $100 must be reported to the Chief Electoral Officer within 10 business days after the contribution is deposited. The Chief Electoral Officer must publish the information on the web within 10 business days of receiving the report.
So why six months for a report and eight weeks for publication here?

Crikey is right to also ask what's happened to the long promised register of lobbyists.
"Fixing up the accountability of political financing ins't much use if vested interests can walk into Parliament House and lobby MPs in secret".

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