Bill Shorten has today demonstrated that he is not serious about eliminating foreign donations in Australian political campaigns.
After less than a month ago saying Labor will ban all foreign donations, Mr Shorten has shown it was all just a headline grab.
The Government today welcomed the report from the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM), which recommended that foreign donations be banned for political parties, associated entities and third parties in Australian elections.
This proposed restriction is in line with community expectations and echoes the sentiments of Prime Minister Turnbull at his address to the National Press Club earlier this year:
“I believe Australians expect us to ensure that only Australians and Australian businesses can seek to influence Australian elections, whether via a political party, an activist group like GetUp or an association or a union.”
The Turnbull Government is of the view that any ban on foreign donations be consistently applied to avoid creating loopholes.
The Government will seriously consider the report’s recommendations and respond in due course.
Labor and Greens members have dissented from the JSCEM report by recommending that a ban on foreign donations should not apply to third parties, currently covered by electoral disclosure requirements.
It was only February that Bill Shorten told Parliament:
“Foreign citizens do not get a vote in Australian elections. And foreign companies should not be allowed to donate to Australian campaigns … Labor’s legislation will ban foreign donations—full stop.”
“Less than one month ago, when introducing a private member’s bill, Bill Shorten told Parliament that Labor would ban foreign donations, what has changed in the past few weeks?” Minister Ryan asked.
“If foreign donations are to be addressed, they need to be addressed comprehensively.”
“Labor and the Greens have proposed a massive foreign donations loophole – one can only wonder at their motive.
“Finally, I wish to thank the chair of the committee, Senator Linda Reynolds CSC and committee members for their work to date.”