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South Australia bid to ban political donations

South Australia to ban political donations

Source: Peter Malinauskas

South Australia’s Labor government says it wants money out of politics and will introduce legislation to ban electoral donations.

The Electoral (Accountability and Integrity) Amendment Bill 2024 would prohibit the giving and receiving of electoral donations and gifts to registered political parties, members of parliament and candidates.

Loans to registered political parties, MPs, groups, or candidates from anyone other than a financial institution would also be prohibited.

Premier Peter Malinauskas said the reforms may face legal challenge.

“We know this is not easy,” he said.

“But we are determined to deliver them, with this bill to be introduced in the parliament in the near future. We want money out of politics.”

Under the proposed reforms, newly registered political parties and unendorsed candidates would be entitled to receive donations of up to $2700, and will also be subject to a spending cap.

A person who knowingly participates in a scheme to circumvent the proposed laws could face a fine of up to $50,000 or up to 10 years in prison.

The bill proposes a restructure and mandatory application of the existing public funding model, including a reduction in the amount parties, MPs and candidates can spend.

Given that under the proposed scheme participants would no longer be able to fundraise, the bill proposes to increase public funding, and a system of partial advance payments, so funding entitlements are available to parties and candidates prior to an election campaign.

The reform is complex and may be subject to legal challenge, including via the High Court.

The government said that, from Thursday, the public could provide feedback on the draft bill during a four-week consultation period via the YourSAy website.

Special Minister of State Dan Cregan said the changes were ambitious and sectional interest groups and lobbyists would “fight tooth and nail” to keep the current system.

“No political donor should be able to buy a favourable political outcome in our state by donating to parties or candidates,” he said.

“The hard truth is that public confidence in democracy is in decline. We need to take real steps to address that decline or risk falling into the extreme political dysfunction which is playing out in other jurisdictions.”

– AAP

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