The parliamentary committee reviewing changes to federal electoral laws has tabled its final report today. The recommendations from the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) include that donation caps should not apply to registered charities, and that groups should only have to register as a third party if they incur more than $20,000 in electoral expenditure.
The Stronger Charities Alliance, a coalition of close to 140 charities, welcomed JSCEM’s acknowledgement of the unique contribution that Australian charities make to election debates, while warning of the impact of donation caps on other not-for-profits.
Hassan Mirbahar, spokesperson for the Stronger Charities Alliance, said:
“This is a positive outcome for Australia’s charity sector which engages in vital issue-based advocacy in elections. We told the committee that treating charities the same way as political parties would not work and the committee has listened. We thank the committee for its work.
“Charities enrich our democracy by being a voice for communities during election periods. Without charities voters would only hear from politicians and business groups.
“By setting the threshold for becoming a third party at $20,000 of electoral expenditure we can ensure that small community groups don’t get tied down with red tape.
“However, the Alliance remains concerned about the potential impact of donation caps on not-for-profit groups that aren’t registered charities. The purpose of donation caps is to ensure decision-makers aren’t overly influenced by any one donor, but third parties don’t sit in parliament making laws. Capping donations to third parties would mean not-for-profits that rely on donations would have their income cut while doing nothing to address flows of money to industry lobby groups”.
The Stronger Charities Alliance previously submitted to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters calling for increased transparency in money in Australian elections in a way that is proportionate and wouldn’t silence community voices.
For further comment contact Hassan Mirbahar - 0406 548 175