A small win for third party political freedom

The federal parliamentary review of campaign finance law reported last Friday (an Age report with a slightly misleading first paragraph is here.) In put in a submission on third parties. A less technical article on the draconinan NSW and Queensland third party laws – my nightmare scenario – is here.

My summary reaction: it could have been a lot worse. Though I disagree with much of what the majority report says, they have held back on most of the extreme NSW and QLD attacks on political freedom. My views were given a fair hearing – I appeared before the committee and my submission is frequently cited in the chapter on third parties.

Most of the material I disagree with on the lowering the donations disclosure threshold, bans on anonymous donations and bans on foreign donations (critiqued here) is just the same old stuff that Labor has repeatedly tried to legislate over the last few years, not a new reform agenda. (Unfortunately it will probably now pass with Green support).

They have actually accepted one of my recommendations, that the political expenditure laws applying to third parties no longer include ‘the public expression of views on an issue in an election by other means’. It would still include materials requiring the ‘written and authorised’ message and other party political material. This would remove the routine activity of think thanks, universities and the media from the law (which is ignored anyway, but the threat of prosecution would be lifted).Read More »