Political Donation Reform Is Overdue – Labor Must Act

Trade Secretary Don Farrell’s commitment to political donation reform is much needed and welcome, but Labor cannot drag its feet.

Trade Minister Don Farrell (Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

Australia’s Trade Minister Don Farrell’s pledge to lower the disclosure threshold for political donations to $1,000 and require real-time reporting of donations is a welcome step towards transparency in state capture mechanisms – whether they can be legislated.

Remember that most parties, including Labor, which have been doing this for over a decade, already declare donations over $1,000, voluntarily. Liberals and Nationals do not. They declare only what they are legally required to declare, which is $14,500 and more, indexed. But real-time reporting will make a big difference to visibility of donations and awareness of the role they play in party funding and influence peddling.

But Farrell’s determination to submit proposals to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) in what will be a lengthy investigation into the 2022 federal election is a waste of time and an unnecessary delay. And he knows it better than anyone. The JSCEM, which for the past two Parliaments has been chaired by permanent Liberal backbench MP James McGrath, has considered the idea on several occasions.