The Wikileaks Party’s actual and potential problems with campaign finance laws

The Age this morning reported that Julian Assange had been prevented by the Bank of America from directly donating to his own Wikileaks Party.

Assange asked that the $25,000 award [from Yoko Ono] be sent to the WikiLeaks Party, a separate legal entity to WikiLeaks. However, in April Ms Ono’s office said the Bank of America had refused to wire the money to the party’s account. …The Bank of America is one of a number of major financial institutions including Visa, American Express, Mastercard and Western Union that since December 2010 have refused to transfer funds to WikiLeaks.

But if the Labor campaign finance bill still before the Senate passes, Assange’s problem won’t just be the Bank of America. The Wikileaks Party would not be able to receive any foreign-sourced donation. Unless Assange still has an Australian bank account, he would not be able to donate his own money either.

Preventing ‘foreigners’ from expressing their views on Australian politics is bad enough. But preventing Australians, even candidates, from donating is an indefensible constraint on political freedom.


Until writing this post I had not checked out the Wikileaks Party website. Its donations page advises that:

Presently donations to the WikiLeaks Party are anonymous unless otherwise requested

Unfortunately, that’s wrong. Until their registration as a political party is confirmed they are a ‘third party’, and must disclose donations over $12,100 (unless Labor’s bill gets through, in which case it will be donations over $1,000).

  1. Hi,

    Do you have any links, quotes or further details on the suggestion that 3rd parties must declare donations?

    AEC section on Third Parties is regarding expenditure not donations

    My understanding from reading the above is the party has to declare expenditure.. but no mention of donations prior to the party being registered.

  2. Andrew Norton

    If you download the pdf guide there is material about donations starting on page 10, which is also here.. The most important parts of the Commonwealth Electoral Act for third parties are sections 314AEB and 314 AEC.

    It’s a multi-step process. Did you spend more than the threshold amount on political expenditure? If so, was it financed by a donation exceeding the threshold amount? If yes, it needs to be disclosed.

  3. If the money was then sent to as stated in the article that I read, would Wikileaks then not be able to donate to the Wikileaks Party? Albeit it might have to be declared.

  4. Andrew Norton

    Linda – Under current law would be able to give money to the Wikileaks Party, with disclosure. However under the proposed law the ‘source’ of the money would become the critical issues. If it was deemed ‘foreign’ it would be prohibited.
    However, there would be other options. The proposed law would not stop directly campaigning in its own right for the Wikileaks Party. It is also aimed at ‘gifts’ rather than ‘sales’. So Wikileaks Party could invoice for services.

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