12 June 2024

WA to introduce tighter political donation transparency rules

| Andrew McLaughlin
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WA State Parliament

The WA Government wants to ensure the privacy of donors is better protected. Photo: WA State Parliament Facebook.

The WA Government will introduce additional amendments to the Electoral Act 1907 next week in a bid to strengthen the state’s political system.

The Electoral Amendment Bill 2024 reforms are hoped to commence from 1 July if passed and are designed to provide for greater transparency with political donations and ensure the privacy of individuals who donate to political parties is better protected.

The reforms will:

  • ensure that once a donor has made a donation of $2600, all subsequent donations, no matter how small, made by that donor will be disclosed
  • amend the requirement for the Electoral Commissioner to publish a donor’s full address, so that only their postcode must be published
  • provide that a responsible person can direct another person to lodge the notice on their behalf
  • include a penalty of up to $36,000 for political parties accepting anonymous donations of any amount, or up to $24,000 in the case of other political entities.

The government said that in November 2021 it passed reforms which introduced a single statewide electorate for the Upper House, meaning that every Western Australian will be represented by their local Lower House member and 37 legislative councillors in the 2025 election and beyond.

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A second round of electoral reforms under the Electoral Amendment (Finance and Other Matters) Bill passed the State Parliament in November 2023 and provided greater transparency and accountability of donations to political parties and candidates.

It says the latest reforms to be introduced next week will further make the electoral system fairer, safer and more transparent.

WA Electoral Affairs Minister John Quigley said that since last November the government had identified a number of improvements that could be made to further enhance transparency and consistency of donation disclosure rules, while still protecting the privacy of individuals.

“In today’s climate, where personal information has become a valuable commodity, identity theft is prevalent and the community is increasingly concerned about privacy protections, potential donors may be concerned about the prospect of having their address published on the WA Electoral Commission’s website,” he said.

“That’s why this bill will stipulate that the commission must not publish a person’s address, other than their postcode.

“The bill also provides for greater consistency in reporting obligations for political donations, so that regardless of whether a person makes large political contributions or frequent small contributions, the same level of transparency and timeframe for disclosure will apply,” he added.

“These improvements come at an opportune time to deliver on the Cook Government’s commitment to gold standard transparency in relation to our state’s electoral system.”

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