Limits on Australian political donations
Crackdown on donations would destroy activist groups, GetUp says. The article below is from the Left so is unlikely to be the whole story but if it is right, it would seem that the government is on the right track. Political agitators often support destructive policies and spoil the scene for people with real grievances and problems.
And the idea that an attack on them is an attack on "democracy" is another example of Leftist Newspeak (in Orwell's terms). The whole point of these groups, particularly when they take to the streets, is to rule from the streets, not the ballot box. The recent homosexual marriage "debate" in Australia showed how coercive and thuggish these groups can be
And it is clearly the Left who abuse the opportunity to demonstrate. The "Occupy Wall St" demonstrations of 2011 in NYC were very aggressive and trashed the location whereas the conservative "Tea Party" demonstrations were polite, civil and picked up their rubbish after themselves.
In my home State of Queensland under the Bjelke-Peterson administration of the '60s, Leftist demonstrations were heavily limited by the police, resulting in quite civil Leftist behaviour, when a demonstration was allowed. I know. I was there. I think that should be the general pattern. Leftist hate-fests should be carefully monitored and cancelled when they become aggressive
Leftists are rarely content with free speech. They want freedom to coerce and intimidate as well. Non-coercive, non-obstructive, non-abusive demonstrations should of course always be allowed but a Leftist demonstration rarely even starts out that way, let alone ending that way
The activist group GetUp has criticised the Turnbull government’s proposed crackdown on foreign political donations, saying its legislation will destroy the revenue streams of grassroots groups and minor parties.
In a submission to the joint standing committee on electoral matters, which is holding an inquiry into election funding and disclosure, GetUp says the government’s bill contains an extraordinary requirement for not-for-profit organisations to obtain a statutory declaration from donors who give just $4.80 a week to political campaign organisations such as GetUp.
Fear 'rushed' foreign influence bill will harm freedom of speech
It says according to Sections 302L and 302P of the bill’s explanatory memorandum, buried on pages 43 and 45, the government makes it clear that if individuals want to donate $250 or more annually to an organisation they will have to declare they are an “allowable donor” and have a justice of the peace or a police officer witness their declaration.
GetUp says that would require organisations to monitor cumulative small donations in real time and, once the annual $250 ceiling is met, to refuse further donations until a statutory declaration is obtained.
Failure to comply with the law would result in 10 years’ imprisonment or a fine of $210,000.
“This hidden clause reveals the federal government’s true intention is to shut down anyone it doesn’t agree with,” Paul Oosting, GetUp national director, told Guardian Australia. “This will destroy grassroots groups’ and minor parties’ revenue streams.
“If brought into law, this would starve GetUp of more than half of our people-powered funding, essentially halting our ability to call on the government to save the Great Barrier Reef, demand corporations contribute a fair share to our local schools and hospitals and treat people seeking asylum in Australia humanely.
“You can get a passport or buy a house without a stat dec but now if you want to stand up for a cause you believe in you’ve got to line up at a police station and get a formal document signed and witnessed. It’s absurd.
“This bill serves the interests of the Turnbull government and no one else. It doesn’t stop the likes of Gina Rinehart or the Adani Corporation from cutting huge cheques to their favourite politicians but it forces everyday people to jump through absurd hoops just to have their say in our democracy.”
GetUp’s submission says the government’s bill is ostensibly a response to a series of scandals surrounding foreign funding of politicians and political parties, and the potential for undue foreign influence, but those scandals would not have played out any differently if the bill were enacted into law.
“The ‘foreign donors; namechecked in the media – Chau Chak Wing and Huang Xiang Mo – both hold or held Australian citizenship or residency at the time the donations were made and therefore would be allowable donors under the provisions of the bill,” GetUp’s submission says.
“Meanwhile, the bill not only prohibits many not-for-profits from receiving international philanthropy entirely, but imposes a large administrative burden for them to confirm the identity of all donors – as opposed to, for example, simply determining whether the donation came from a foreign bank account.
“This represents a near-impossible feat for community organisations that depend on the small donations of thousands of everyday people.
“There is also a reasonable concern that banning donations by reference to a person’s identity in the way currently drafted is unconstitutional. It is clear the Bill is not serving the interests of the Australian public, concerned about the recent slew of foreign donations scandals – which raises the question, what or whose interests does it serve?
“One clue is in what the bill omits. It misses by far the biggest risk for ‘foreign influence’ in Australia’s democracy: large multinational corporations.”
The Minerals Council of Australia, one of Australia’s biggest corporate lobby groups, has conceded that it makes political donations and pays to attend fundraisers to gain access to members of parliament.
In a submission to a separate Senate inquiry, the MCA said it made donations amounting to $33,250 in 2015-16 and $57,345 in 2016-17, which were declared to the Australian Electoral Commission. The majority in both years went to the Liberal or National parties and associated entities.
The frank admission – which reflects a commonly held belief about the role of money in politics – stuck out because major corporations and lobby groups by and large say they make donations to support democracy.