Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 8 May 2008) . . Page.. 1715 ..
MR SPEAKER: Yes, good.
DR FOSKEY: This amendment cuts the time frame in which political parties and candidates must give the Electoral Commissioner their annual reports, detailing donations received in a financial year, from 16 to eight weeks. That was my amendment. As it operates now, the 16-week requirement—
Mr Corbell: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Dr Foskey is speaking to her amendment, which she has not and cannot move.
MR SPEAKER: No, but this is in relation—
DR FOSKEY: I am giving my speech, but I am speaking to your amendment, Mr Corbell.
MR SPEAKER: But you have got to be relevant.
DR FOSKEY: Yes. Mr Corbell’s amendment is—
MR SPEAKER: You have got to speak to Mr Corbell’s amendment, but you can speak further in relation to the question that the clause, as amended, be agreed to. It does not very often happen.
DR FOSKEY: Yes. I do feel as though I am walking on fast-melting pieces of ice in a very fast-moving river. Perhaps you can rescue me when the time comes, Mr Speaker.
Because Mr Corbell’s amendment is quite different from my amendment and, it seems to me, the content of my amendment, it needs to be put on the public record. I do not oppose Mr Corbell’s amendment; I just feel that it could have had a lot more content. And this is the content that it could have had. The Greens are concerned that the 16-week requirement means that disclosures are not made public until after an election takes place and it seems to me that to have made the time frame shorter would have made it possible for the commission to publish those disclosures on the Elections ACT website prior to the election, rather than after it. The Greens’ opinion of eight weeks is not a tight time frame and political parties and candidates presumably look closely at all donations offered to them, just to make sure they are comfortable with the partnership and to check they are not being set up.
If we are concerned enough to reduce the level of donation from $1,500 to $1,000, I think we should be concerned enough to increase the transparency of donations, and that means that we would need to shorten the period in which people are required to make those donations public. We need to shorten it because people who are interested in the candidates that they are voting for in an election—and I would have thought that the aim of the Assembly here was to ensure that more rather than fewer people were interested—are going to want to know as much about their candidates as they can, and that includes whom they receive money from. So that is why I am disappointed that Mr Corbell’s amendment is so limited in its extent.