- Improving disclosure laws around political donations
- Ban on all foreign donations
- Expenditure caps for elections
The McGowan Government has today introduced legislation to improve disclosure laws around political donations, introduce expenditure caps for election campaigns and ban all foreign donations.
Giving effect to the Government's commitments on electoral reform, it will be unlawful to accept a political donation unless the donor is an Australian resident or citizen, or has an Australian Business Number.
Currently, political parties and their associated entities are required to disclose donations and gifts received on an annual basis. After the passage of this Bill, they will be required to submit quarterly returns. These returns will be published online by the Electoral Commission.
Once in place, the legislation will reduce the political donation threshold to $1,000. All political parties in Western Australia will have to operate under the new $1,000 disclosure threshold. The post-election disclosure reporting requirement will be reduced from 15 weeks after the day of the election, to 12 weeks.
This Bill will deliver expenditure caps for the first time in WA history.
From October 1 this year, expenditure shall be capped before the general election on March 13, 2021. Registered political parties will be able to spend $125,000 for each district or region being contested. The same cap applies to independent candidates. Political parties may spend over the capped amount in a particular district or region, but overspends would need to be balanced out by a reduction on other contested districts or regions. Other entities that are not political parties, candidates, or Legislative Council Groups, will be capped at $2 million.
Anyone who exceeds the expenditure cap will be subject to both civil and criminal penalties. An overspend less than 20 per cent of the cap will attract a fine of twice the overspend, but an overspend of more than 20 per cent may incur a two-year prison sentence and a fine of three times the overspent amount. A body corporate will be subject to five times the amount applicable to a person.
Comments attributed to Electoral Affairs Minister Stephen Dawson:
"This Government promised fairness across the entire political system. These rules are for everyone and this Bill is about transparency, integrity and accountability.
"This Bill will ensure the public have confidence in the accountability, transparency and integrity of elections and donations in Western Australia.
"Tightening the rules around financial disclosure will give voters greater confidence in the Western Australian electoral process.
"I look forward to the support of my parliamentary colleagues on these important reforms."
Minister's office - 6552 5800