Labor set to back changes to election laws | Northern Beaches Review
Small political parties will have a tougher test to get registered ahead of the next federal election.
The Labor caucus on Tuesday agreed to back three changes to electoral laws, but is not convinced about a fourth proposed reform by the Morrison government.
Under one bill, small parties will need to provide evidence of 1500 members rather than the current 500.
The same bill will also tighten rules around the registration of party names which replicate a word in the name of an existing registered party.
The Greens oppose the registration change, saying it will stifle the voice of smaller parties, entrenching the two-party system.
Labor will also support a change to the rules to impose a fixed pre-poll period of up to 12 days before an election.
A further change will provide for a jail term of up to three years for “interference with political liberty”, such as violence, property damage, harassment or stalking in relation to an election.
However, the caucus is not so keen on a further bill to reduce the amount of “electoral expenditure” an individual or organisation can spend before they are required to register as a political campaigner.
This amount will decrease from the current $500,000 to $100,000 during the financial year, or for any of the previous three financial years.
The government argues it will bring groups closer in line with the transparency imposed on political parties, candidates and MPs.
But charities say they are not like parties and the move would effectively silence community voices.
“Advocacy is an important part of the work that charities do,” the Australia Institute’s Bill Browne said.
“If the government were serious about political transparency, it would lower the disclosure threshold for political donations to $1000 and introduce real-time reporting of donations.”
The bills are still before the House of Representatives, having been introduced on August 12.
Australian Associated Press