Recently, it was alleged Pauline Hanson had been donated a plane which she failed to disclose to the electoral commission. This event raised a scandal as it was claimed to subvert donation disclosure laws.
Political parties & candidates spend millions of dollars each year to gain & maintain control in Parliament. This money largely stems from donations, raising concern with regard to undue influence & corruption. Common tools for addressing this problem are expenditure caps, donation caps, disclosure laws, & public funding.
Historically, stringent campaign finance laws have been difficult to apply due to Australia having an implied right to freedom of political communication. Australia currently has campaign finance laws which are comparatively laxer than other countries, and are as follows:
Once per year, parties must legally disclose donations above $13,500. Fines are imposed on parties and candidates for disclosure errors: $5,000 for untimely returns, $1,000 for incomplete record keeping and $10,000 for knowingly misleading returns.
Australia has no limits in place on the amount of donations
Australia does not ban political donations from foreign interests, something which is disallowed in many countries around the world; nor does Australia ban donations from corporate interests or trade unions
Currently, aside from individual donations, property and construction companies are the largest contributors to political donations
Political expenditure has markedly increased since expenditure limits were repealed in 1980. In the first eight weeks of the 2016 election campaign, the Liberal & Labor party were estimated to have spent $6.9 million & $4.9 million on advertising respectively. In 2015-16, the total amount of donations received by political parties/candidates amounted to over $188 million, while public funding provided an additional $62.7 million. A large proportion of these donations came from ‘Associated Entities’, which have no obligation to disclose the origins of their funds.
Should Australia further regulate
its political donations system?
The Atlantic, 'The Only Way to Fix Campaign-Finance Regulation Is to Destroy It'
The Conversation, 'Big money politics: why we need third party regulation'
The Conversation, 'Power imbalance: why we don’t need more third party regulation'
The Conversation, 'Australia trails way behind other nations in regulating political donations'
The New Daily, 'Pressure grows for Australia to ban foreign political donations'
Tasmanian Times, 'What happens if a major political donor doesn’t disclose?'