Page 2204 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 22 June 2011

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The standing committee also agreed to propose to the Assembly that all bills presented to the Assembly be accompanied by an explanatory statement. Current practice is that all executive bills have an ES but only a small number of private members’ bills present explanatory statements with them. The committee considered that the requirement for all bills to be accompanied by an explanatory statement provides a more complete legislative package that the public, interested community groups and the judiciary will be able to use.

In response to a recommendation of the Select Committee on Privileges 2010 the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure is also proposing that the Assembly adopt a procedure for dealing with claims of public interest immunity. The proposed continuing resolution is based on the practice in the Senate.

It is expected that notice of these proposed amendments will be lodged on the notice paper and debated during Assembly business.

Electoral (Donation Limit) Amendment Bill 2011

Mr Smyth, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (10.03): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, I am pleased to present the Electoral (Donation Limit) Amendment Bill 2011 today. The basis for this bill arises from the concerns raised by members of the community with me about a certain organisation which, it is understood, could be considering arranging to make a substantial donation to a political party operating in the ACT. The manner of this donation is reputed to be of such a significant size, and to be contemplated in such a way, as to raise the concern that it is a deliberate attempt to circumvent the inquiry into campaign finance reform, which is being conducted by the justice and community safety committee of this Assembly.

In the lead-up to the prospect of long-term campaign finance reform following the report of the justice and community safety committee, this bill has a very simple objective. It is to ensure that donations which are made to political parties in the ACT do not exceed $50,000. It includes situations where the same source, be this an individual or an organisation, provides a number of donations which aggregate to $50,000.

Moreover, there are concerns that the potential donation is being planned before the conclusion of the federal campaign finance reform and before the impending changes to gaming machine regulations. We see this as an interim measure, until such time as the Assembly’s committee report has been dealt with by this place.

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