Foreign donation ban law clears parliament

Legislation banning foreign donations in Australian politics have cleared both houses of parliament after the government flagged the laws as a priority.

Foreign donations will be banned in Australian politics after legislation cleared federal parliament.

The laws passed the lower house on Tuesday after making it through the Senate about a fortnight ago, with the government flagging the ban as a matter of priority.

Donations of more than $100 to all "political actors" - including parties, individual candidates and significant political campaigners - from foreign governments and state-owned enterprises will be banned.

Special Minister of State Alex Hawke said the laws would help stamp out foreign interference in politics, while improving transparency for voters with a public register of third-party campaigners.

Labor MP Andrew Leigh challenged the government to not accept foreign donations, as the opposition has done.

"Don't wait for this bill to become law. Do not take another dollar from foreign donations," he said.

Third-party campaigners such as charities will not be prevented from receiving foreign gifts but won't be able to use foreign money for political spending.

Charities won't be prevented from using foreign donations to advocate for non-partisan issues.

About $40 million was spent by third-party groups on election campaign advertising in the financial year of the last federal election, Mr Hawke added.

"It's clear that elections are no longer just fought between political parties and candidates," he told the lower house.

"And its appropriate that all participants who choose to expend significant amounts of political expenditure are subject to transparency."

The register would allow voters to know who was responsible for creating material attempting to sway their votes, Mr Hawke said.

2 min read
Published 27 November 2018 at 8:34pm
Source: AAP