MPs call for real-time donation disclosure

Centre Alliance's Rebekha Sharkie has put legislation to parliament to lift the age from 10 to 14

Centre Alliance's Rebekha Sharkie has put legislation to parliament to lift the age from 10 to 14 Photo: AAP

Australians should know who is donating money to federal politicians in real-time, crossbenchers say.

Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie has introduced draft legislation to the lower house on Monday, which would put a five-day deadline on disclosing political donations.

Currently, political parties have to give the Australian Electoral Commission an annual report explaining donations over the threshold amount of $13,800.

Under the changes introduced by Ms Sharkie, parties would instead have to tell the AEC of any donations of $13,800 or more no later than five working days after they’re made.

“My bill is not a panacea for undue influence, I know that, I’ve been in this place long enough to know that,” she told the chamber.

“However, it will make it easier for all Australians to see which organisations are donating, and who they are donating it to.”

The AEC would have to be told who made the donation, its amount, a description, and when it was received.

Ms Sharkie said Australians won’t know until February 2020 who donated to parties ahead of this year’s federal election.

She also pointed to former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who made a $1.75 million “gift” to the Liberal Party before the 2016 election.

It wasn’t formally made known until early 2018.

Ms Sharkie said the rules for the federal government were out of line with current state laws.

Notably, Queensland has an online portal where political donations are made public within seven days.

Independent Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie supported the bill as it was introduced.

The public should know who has donated to parties during election campaigns before they go to the ballot box, he argued.

Although the draft legislation doesn’t change the disclosure threshold, Mr Wilkie believes publishing donations over $1000 is more reasonable.


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