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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (13 June) . . Page.. 1690 ..

Mr Moore: No, it is not.

MR STEFANIAK: Take a look at it. If someone makes a series of donations which exceed that in a financial year, that is disclosed. There are some good reasons for not disclosing reasonably small donations, and $1,500 is not a large donation. Unfortunately, and we have probably seen it in this place with former members having difficulty getting jobs simply because they are tarnished by having been in the Assembly or they are tarnished by being part of a political party, an individual who wants to donate to a party or a group and who is in a workplace where people are of a different persuasion could find a perfectly legitimate form of exercising a democratic right to support a political party or a political grouping in a democracy such as we have in Australia backfiring simply because the donation is disclosed.

The larger organisations do not mind so much. We see that in terms of the organisations which donate money to the Liberal Party and the Labor Party and perhaps to the Independents and the Greens. That information is published and people can see it. Sometimes we have groups donating to a number of political organisations. That is part and parcel of our political spectrum. I do not think there is anything corrupt or anything startling about that. It is just part of our process. The level of political donations is relatively small in Australia compared with some other places, certainly compared with the United States, where it is absolutely huge. Perhaps there is much more room for concern there that there is here. There are a number of factors in relation to this matter. The proposal to bring us into line with the rest of Australia is not unreasonable.

Mr Speaker, the Commonwealth government passed amendments to the Commonwealth electoral legislation earlier this year. As a consequence, the government has looked at the implications of those amendments and has decided to bring our legislation into line with the Commonwealth, where possible. We have looked at the disclosure provisions contained in the Commonwealth legislation and we can find no logical reason not to follow the Commonwealth's lead. Every other state and territory is doing the same. Accordingly, we will be moving amendments to the legislation before the Assembly-all members have copies of them now-to change the reporting requirements to reflect the Commonwealth's disclosure provisions. In doing so, there will be some consequential and technical amendments as a direct result of this policy decision.

There are some other amendments that I will be moving-members have them-as a consequence of the move to adopt the Commonwealth provisions. There will no longer be a need to make special provision for returns to be submitted four weeks later in an ACT election year as all parties can adopt the same return for both federal and ACT financial reports-a more efficient system, a quicker system.

There was a drafting error in section 217, relating to the disclosure of gifts by candidates, and in section 218, relating to the disclosure of gifts by non-party groups. There was also a drafting error in clause 35, relating to authorisers and authors, which I will be correcting, as well as deferring the implementation of the new provisions until 1 January 2002, as many parties and groups have already prepared printed material for the next election. Again, that is just common sense. There is also a technical amendment to allow the Electoral Commissioner to access material from utilities such as ActewAGL to facilitate the maintenance of the electoral roll.

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