Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 10 April 2018) . . Page.. 1184 ..
The original intent of the allowance was to provide funds for MLAs to communicate with their constituents in a public capacity. There have been numerous challenges in practice with providing the communications allowance as a salary component. This is an example of better clarity and demarcation between executive, MLA, political and private functions and will improve transparency and reduce red tape in reporting.
Accountability and disclosure obligations around fundraising are absolutely vital to a fair and transparent electoral system. For example, the $1,000 disclosure threshold provides an important source of information for the public in evaluating political candidates and parties. The committee recommended that the $250 exception for fundraising events in section 198AA of the Electoral Act be removed in part to protect the integrity of the $1,000 disclosure rule. The government agrees and will be moving to subject fundraising events to the same disclosure thresholds as other gifts and donations.
The select committee has supported the government’s policy of banning donations from property developers. The government has publicly committed to implement this policy, and the select committee’s work reinforces the importance of implementing this reform.
Finally, the select committee’s report outlines a series of technical issues around restrictions on signs and other campaign materials that need to be addressed. These include recommendations about the suitability of the current 100-metre canvassing exclusion zone, which the government notes and will consider further in consultation with the Electoral Commission. There is also a recommendation about simplifying enforcement and removal of noncompliant electoral advertising signs, with which the government agrees. The government will be engaging with the Electoral Commission on the basis of this report and looking to make administration of elections as clear, and as simple, as possible.
There are two recommendations the government will not be pursuing at this time. One is about allowing the display of signs inside the 100-metre exclusion zone on private property, which the government will not be supporting as we wish to maintain the equality of application of the exclusion zone.
The second is on increasing the time between the close of nominations and the declaration of nomination under the Electoral Act to allow for time to address challenges to nominations. The government is of the view that these challenges are properly addressed through our existing court process, which is designed to occur after an election is complete.
In conclusion, the government looks forward to responding to the evidence base and the suggestions provided by the select committee to further refine our electoral system over the next two years. We will aim to maintain an electoral framework that provides candidates and parties with a clear and fair set of obligations and that promotes full and fully informed participation by voters. I commend the response to the Assembly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.