Foreign Donation Ban Moves A Step Closer
Tighter laws on parties and other entities receiving foreign political donations have moved a step closer with Labor agreeing to most of the findings of a new report.
Electoral matters committee chairman James McGrath said the amendments recommended by his committee would go a long way to addressing concerns raised by charities and not-for-profit bodies about the initial proposed laws.
"Protection against foreign interference cannot be done by stifling lively, good-natured debate or vital charitable efforts," the Liberal National Party senator said on Monday.
"We have heard from a broad cross-section of societal organisations and have made recommendations which we believe will strengthen our democracy without silencing these crucial voices."
Among the recommendations were making a new "transparency register" easily searchable, removing the need for entity staff to state their political affiliation on the register and setting a $100 minimum threshold for foreign donation disclosure.
As well, New Zealand citizens residing in Australia on a special category visa won't be defined as foreign donors.
Labor has agreed to all but one recommendation of the committee, relating to state, territory and local government campaigns.
Committee deputy chair Andrew Giles said in the report the party supported reform, but would continue to push for tougher laws including a national integrity commission.
Greens senator Larissa Waters said the legislation failed to tackle corporate donations, accusing the major parties of striking a "dirty deal" to keep money flowing into their coffers.
"This is a fig leaf of a bill that's actually just designed to keep attacking the charity sector," she told parliament.