Showing posts with label charities. Show all posts
Showing posts with label charities. Show all posts

Thursday, 1 February 2018

A lesson in political repression courtesy of the Turnbull Government


On 7 December 2017 the Turnbull Coalition Government introduced a bill called the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017.

It is currently before the Senate and the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters which reports to Parliament on 2 March 2018.

This bill purports to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 to: establish public registers for key non-party political actors; require non-financial particulars, such as senior staff and discretionary government benefits, to be reported; prohibit donations from foreign governments and state-owned enterprises being used to finance public debate; require wholly political actors to verify that donations over $250 come from an organisation incorporated in Australia, or with its head office or principal place of activity in Australia, or an Australian citizen or Commonwealth elector; prohibit other regulated political actors from using donations from foreign sources to fund reportable political expenditure; limit public election funding to demonstrated electoral spending; amend the enforcement and compliance regime for political finance regulation; and enable the Electoral Commissioner to prescribe certain matters by legislative instrument; and Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 to make consequential amendments.

The bill contains these clauses in relation to not only donations made to political parties but also to donations made to advocacy groups and charities which lobby government:

# 287AA Meaning of allowable donor

 (1) A person or entity is an allowable donor if:

(a) for an individual who makes a gift—the individual:
(i) is an elector; or
(ii) is an Australian citizen; or
(iii) is an Australian resident, unless a determination is in force under subsection

(2) determining that Australian residents are not allowable donors; or

(b) for an entity that makes a gift:
(i) the entity is incorporated in Australia; or
(ii) for an entity that is not incorporated—the entity’s head  office or principal place of activity is in Australia; or

(c) for a person or entity that is a trustee of an unincorporated trust fund or unincorporated foundation, out of which a gift is made—the person or entity is an allowable donor within the meaning of paragraph (a), (b) or (d); or

(d) the person or entity is in a class of persons or entities prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this paragraph. Australian residents 

(2) For the purposes of subparagraph (1)(a)(iii), the Minister may, by  legislative instrument, determine that Australian residents are not allowable donors.

# 302P Information relating to allowable donor status

(1) A person (the first person) obtains appropriate donor information from another person establishing that the other person is an allowable donor if:

(a) the first person obtains a statutory declaration from the other person declaring that the other person is an allowable donor (unless subsection (2) applies); or
(b) if the regulations determine information that the first person may seek from the other person in order to establish that the other person is an allowable donor—the first person obtains 11 that information from the other person.

(2) For the purposes of paragraph (1)(b), the regulations may (but are not required to) determine that a statutory declaration that a person is an allowable donor is not appropriate donor information.

Note: A person who obtains appropriate donor information may not commit an offence or contravene a civil penalty provision in this Division (see 17 subsection 287(9) and section 302M).

It should be noted that approved witnesses to a Commonwealth statutory declaration come from specific occupational pools and only justices of the peace are prohibited from charging a fee to act as a witness.

It should be further noted that these clauses are in addition to the bill's amending of the definition of an associated entity which GetUp! asserts threatens its independence.

GetUp! had this to say on the subject:

Our lawyers just uncovered a killer clause in the Turnbull Government's new anti-democratic legislation that would decimate GetUp's ability to fundraise.Can you dig deep to help establish a GetUp Survival War Chest -- while we still can?

If passed, this killer clause would force then anyone who contributes as little as $4.80 a week to the GetUp movement to provide a signed and witnessed statutory declaration.

The impossibility of collecting thousands upon thousands of these documents would spell the end of people-powered fundrasing as we know it.

Of course, we're going to fight tooth and nail to stop this legislation in its tracks. But to prepare for the worst, we're creating a GetUp Survival War Chest, to ensure we run can keep our campaigns thriving no matter what.

Can you dig deep now (while we still can) as an act of defiance against this effort to choke off our people powered impact?


Donations page here.