The Australian Democrats intend to contest the next Federal election and we will certainly need donations to win seats in the Parliament but here is how we will deal with them:
- We will accept donations only from companies and organisations whose purposes and practices are positive or at least neutral for the environment and/or the wellbeing of citizens.
- We will make it clear to all donors that our decision-making is based on evidence and that their donation will not influence our policy or our vote if elected to the Parliament.
- We will focus our fundraising efforts on donations from individuals, our supporters and our members.
- We will report on our website accumulative donations to us of more than $1,500 in each financial year within 7 days of receipt.
- We will publish this policy prominently on our website.
How political donations currently work
Every political party needs to raise money for their operations and to contest elections.
The cost to nominate one candidate for a Federal election is now $2,000. To contest all Senate (6) and House of Reps (151) seats now costs over $300,000 and much more to nominate two or more candidates per seat, as is usual.
Political parties now spend staggering sums on election campaigns and much of this comes in large donations from companies with vested interests in decisions made in the parliament that directly affect them – coal mining, fossil fuel, banking, pharmaceuticals and property development – and, in the case of Labor, from unions.
Lax laws on disclosure of donations mean Australians cannot know who donates below the current threshold of ~$13,000. Nor do they have the data on many large donations that in the timeframe allowed are not reported before elections .
Political parties also receive public funds for each first preference vote they receive over 4% of the total. In 2019 it was ~$2.76 per vote and cost taxpayers $65 million in 2016. The 4% threshold is a significant and unfair impediment for small and emerging parties and protects the interests of incumbents.
What we’ll do
We will keep up our longstanding advocacy for caps on donations and on election spending and for donations over $1,500 to be disclosed within at least 30 days of receipt).
We’ll keep on being the Champions of the Senate and its crucial role in bringing the voice of the people into the Parliament to counteract donation-influenced decision-making.
(The Senate does this through open, transparent inquiry into all substantial legislation where hearings and submissions can be made by any citizen or organisation and are made public.)
If you want to see the Democrats back as the Champions of the Senate, making a donation will help enormously.