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Liberals running down the clock on their own Donations Reform Bill

Tasmanian Labor calls on the minority Liberal government to bring on their Donations Reform Bill for debate this week.

The Bill – first promised by then-Premier Will Hodgman more than five years ago – should have been the first order of business for the Legislative Council in March 2023, but instead, was relegated to last on the list. Now, five months on, the Bill is still nowhere to be seen.

After more pressure from Labor, the Premier told Parliament today that debate will be brought on during the current spring session, hopefully this week.

But after continually stalling debate over recent months, Tasmanians can have no faith or trust in this unless the Liberals follow through and finally make good on their own commitment.

The Tasmanian Electoral Commission has made it clear it needs months to implement the changes once the Bill finally passes – and Tasmanians are right to expect the new laws to be up and running in time for the next election.

However if the government fails to bring on the Bill this week, they are running down the clock on their own reforms and risk them not being in place in time for the next election.

The government only introduced Bill after intense pressure from Labor – and even though the reforms do not go far enough, Labor debated them in good faith and they passed the Lower House last year.

Even if passed, Tasmania would still have the weakest political donation laws in the country but this Bill is an important start to ensure parties and candidates would have to disclose donations they receive as well as their campaign spending.

Labor will continue pushing for important amendments to help level the playing field and restore public confidence in Tasmania’s political processes, including lowering the disclosure threshold to $1,000 and introducing spending caps for House of Assembly elections.

Tasmanians deserve more honesty, fairness and transparency – and unless this government delivers on its own commitments, the opposite will happen and public trust in the electoral process will be further eroded.

August 15 2023

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