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Australia

In law
41
In practice
67

The Australian political finance system is relatively sparse. Direct public funding is provided to candidates and parties, both in law and in practice, but no laws explicitly prohibit the use of non-financial state resources during campaigns, nor is there subsidized access to advertising. Few restrictions exist to limit contributions or expenditure during campaigns, and only contributions worth more than $12,400 (AUD) must be reported. As a result, corporations and individual donors pour a good deal of money into politics, though ascertaining exact funding streams can be a difficult task. Parties and candidates submit financial reports annually to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), and that information, in practice, is made available to the public in a standardized, machine readable format. In fact, Australia is one of two countries in the MPT sample to meet this standard. Third party actors who spend in excess of $12,400 in campaigns are required to report to the AEC, and that information is eventually made available to the public. Because of the absence of contribution limits, third party actors are not hugely important in Australian campaigns--money can legally be funneled directly to parties and candidates. The AEC is well-respected, and exercises independent investigations. It lacks, however, the legal authority to impose sanctions, and has not initiated prosecutions of violators in more than seven years.

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    Direct and Indirect Public Funding

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      Direct Public Funding
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        1
        Score
        YES
        In law, there is direct public funding for electoral campaigns.More about indicator

        Direct public funding is available for both candidates and parties in Australia. Section 294 of the Electoral Act makes clear that public funding is available. "(1) Subject to this Division, $1.50 is payable for each first preference vote given for a candidate in a House of Representatives election. (2) Subject to this Division, $1.50 is payable for each first preference vote given for a candidate or group in a Senate election." (Both these amounts have been increased over time--the current public funding rate is $2.56 per vote (1 July to 31 December 2014))

        Section 297 introduces a threshold of eligibility for funding. "(1) A payment under this Division shall not be made in respect of votes given in an election for a candidate unless the total number of eligible votes polled in the candidate's favour is at least 4% of the total number of eligible votes polled in favour of all of the candidates in the election. (2) A payment under this Division shall not be made in respect of votes given in an election for a group unless the total number of eligible votes polled in favour of the group is at least 4% of the total number of formal first preference votes cast in the election."

        Section 299 makes clear that the funding can be directed to either candidates or parties in both House of Representatives and Senate elections. Funding for candidates who are endorsed by registered political parties will be directed to the party, not to the candidate.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where there is direct public funding for both political parties and individual candidates to campaign. A 100 also applies where only one of the two actors can be elected and, therefore, only one is entitled to direct public funding.

        A MODERATE score is earned where per law only one of the two actors (either political parties or individual candidates) is allocated direct public funding to campaign, even though both can be elected.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        1) Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (public funding introduced by Commonwealth Electoral Legislation Amendment Bill 1983), Part XX, Division 3, Sections 294, 297, 299. 1918. Link: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/cea1918233/

        2) Australian Electoral Commission, Current Funding Rate for Direct Public Funding, 2014. http://www.aec.gov.au/PartiesandRepresentatives/publicfunding/CurrentFunding_Rate.htm

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        YES
        In law, there is a transparent and equitable mechanism to determine direct public funding for electoral campaigns.More about indicator

        Under Australian law, there is a transparent and equitable mechanism to determine direct public funding for electoral campaigns. Section 294 of the Electoral Act states that, "(1) Subject to this Division, $1.50 is payable for each first preference vote given for a candidate in a House of Representatives election. (2) Subject to this Division, $1.50 is payable for each first preference vote given for a candidate or group in a Senate election." (Both these amounts have been increased over time--the current public funding rate is $2.56 per vote (1 July to 31 December 2014).

        The threshold for eligibility of funding is clearly defined in Section 297 "(1) A payment under this Division shall not be made in respect of votes given in an election for a candidate unless the total number of eligible votes polled in the candidate's favour is at least 4% of the total number of eligible votes polled in favour of all of the candidates in the election. (2) A payment under this Division shall not be made in respect of votes given in an election for a group unless the total number of eligible votes polled in favour of the group is at least 4% of the total number of formal first preference votes cast in the election."

        This threshold is equitable according to the principle of proportionality as outlined, and the eligibility criteria are clearly defined.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) direct public funding for political parties and individual candidates' electoral campaigns is allocated through a clearly defined calculation mechanism that is transparent and equitable, and 2) there are clearly defined eligibility criteria.

        A MODERATE score is earned where direct public funding for political party and individual candidates' electoral campaigns is allocated through a clearly defined calculation mechanism that is transparent and equitable, but eligibility criteria are not clearly defined.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        1) Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, Part XX, Division 3, Sections 294, 297. 1918. Link: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/cea1918233/s297.html

        2) Australian Electoral Commission, Current Funding Rate for Direct Public Funding, 2014. http://www.aec.gov.au/PartiesandRepresentatives/publicfunding/CurrentFunding_Rate.htm

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        100
        In practice, to what extent is the mechanism to determine direct public funding for electoral campaigns transparent, equitable and consistently applied?More about indicator

        There is ample evidence that the threshold mechanism is both transparent and consistently applied. The relevant sections of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 are widely available and the Australian Electoral Commission provides an Election Funding and Disclosure Report after every election, as mandated by law (subsection 17(2) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918). This report is made public within 15 sitting days of the Minister's receiving the report, and thus meets the requirement for transparency.

        Providing detailed information about funding ensures that the mechanism is consistently applied. The structure of the mechanism (a 4% primary threshold) meets the principle of proportionality, thus it is equitable. For example, the 2013 report highlights that 4 new parties reached the 4% primary threshold (Palmer United Party, Nick Xenophon Group, Katter's Australian Party and Bullet Train for Australia) and provides an exact summary of payments and the tranches of payment.

        In her article for 'The Conversation' website, author Jennifer Rayner provides a link to the AEC report as demonstration of the transparency and availability (but not the timely publication) of information about public funding.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) electoral campaigns allocations are always defined through a clearly defined transparent and equitable calculation mechanism, and 2) the defined eligibility criteria are applied consistently.

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) electoral campaign allocations are usually defined through a clearly defined transparent and equitable calculation mechanism but exceptions exist, or 2) the eligibility criteria are usually applied but exceptions exist.

        A 0 score is earned where: 1) political campaign allocations are rarely or never defined through a clearly defined transparent and equitable calculation mechanism, or 2) the defined eligibility criteria are rarely applied.

        Sources

        1) Australian Electoral Commission's 'Electoral Funding and Disclosure Report - 2013 Federal Election
        http://www.aec.gov.au/aboutaec/Publications/ReportsOnFederalElectoral_Events/fad.htm

        2) Jennifer Rayner, "Identifying political donors is only half the transparency story this election year." The Conversation website (The Conversation is a collaboration between editors and academics to provide news analysis and commentary), 4th February 2013. http://theconversation.com/identifying-political-donors-is-only-half-the-transparency-story-this-election-year-11910

        3) Interview Name: Graeme Orr Position: Professor, Law Institution: University of Queensland Date: 29th August 2014

        4) Interview Name: Iain McMennamin Position: Senior Lecturer, School of Law and Government Institution: Dublin City University Date: 12th September 2014

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        100
        In practice, to what extent does the entity in charge of public funding make disbursement information publicly available?More about indicator

        The AEC publishes the public funding disbursements on its website on the day that payments are authorised. So, the practice is for disbursement information to be published upon authorisation of payments. While the Electoral Funding and Disclosure Report provides a more detailed breakdown of Senate and House votes from which payments are calculated, the information in relation to the actual disbursements is identical to that published by media release when payments are authorised.

        In her article for the Conversation, author Jennifer Rayner confirms that the AEC report is an effective, accurate means of determining the direct public funding given to candidates or political parties for an election. Graeme Orr noted that with such a simple formula, using the AEC data available shortly after the election, a rough calculation can be made of the public funding to be received by each party / candidate.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) complete information on the disbursements is published less than a month after disbursement, and 2) the information is available on the Internet for free or in hard copy at photocopying cost.

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) the information published is incomplete or published more than two months after disbursement, or 2) obtaining the information costs more than photocopying.

        A 0 score is earned where: 1) disbursement information is published more than four months after disbursement, or 2) no disbursement information is published or released upon request.

        Sources

        1) AEC Media Release on Disbursement, 9th October, 2013. http://aec.gov.au/media/media-releases/2013/e10-09.htm

        2) AEC Media Releace on Disbursement, 27th November, 2013. http://aec.gov.au/media/media-releases/2013/11-27.htm

        3) The Australian Electoral Commission's (AEC) 'Electoral Funding and Disclosure Report' is mandated by law (subsection 17(2) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918) and is completed after every federal election. http://www.aec.gov.au/aboutaec/Publications/ReportsOnFederalElectoral_Events/fad.htm

        4) Jennifer Rayner, "Identifying political donors is only half the transparency story this election year." The Conversation website (The Conversation is a collaboration between editors and academics to provide news analysis and commentary), 4th February 2013. http://theconversation.com/identifying-political-donors-is-only-half-the-transparency-story-this-election-year-11910

        5) Interview Name: Graeme Orr Position: Professor, Law Institution: University of Queensland Date: 29th August, 2014

        6) Interview Name: Iain McMennamin Position: Senior Lecturer, School of Law and Government Institution: Dublin City University Date 12th September, 2014

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      Indirect Public Funding
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        5
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        NO
        In law, use of state resources in favor of or against political parties and individual candidates is prohibited.More about indicator

        There is not one law that explicitly prohibits the use of state resources to favour one party or candidate. Instead, a patchwork of laws cover different potential avenues for utilising state resources for this purpose. For example, during election periods, public broadcasters are subject to provisions of the Broadcasting Services Act. Some aspects of the Public Service Act 1999 also address this issue, such as ensuring a distinction between agency and ministerial websites.

        To provide further assurance that state resources are not used in electoral campaigns to support a particular candidate or party, observance of the 'Caretaker Conventions' during an election period is crucial. The Guidance on Caretaker Conventions is issued by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet before each election. In the main, most advice remains identical from election to election and is designed to ensure that government is not perceived to be influencing the election nor creating undue commitments for the following government. The main items covered by the guidance are: major policy decisions; significant appointments; major contracts or undertakings; international negotiations and visits; avoiding Australian Public Service involvement in election activities. However, the guidelines themselves make clear that they are "not legally binding nor hard and fast rules." As such, there is no concrete prohibition against the use of state resources in electoral campaigns.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where there is an explicit ban on the use of state resources in favor of or against political parties and individual candidates. A YES is also earned where there are clearly defined exceptions, which are accessible to all actors equally.

        A MODERATE score is earned where an explicit ban exists but it only applies to one of the two actors, even though both can be elected. A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        A NO score is also earned where the law exists, but allows discretionary exceptions.

        Sources

        1) The 'Guidance on Caretaker Conventions' cover many of the potential situations in which state resources could be utilised to favour one party or candidate. Guidance on Caretake Conventions. 2013. Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Link: http://www.dpmc.gov.au/guidelines/docs/caretaker_conventions.pdf

        2) Interview Name: Graeme Orr Position: Professor, Law Institution: University of Queensland Date: 29th August, 2014

        3) Broadcasting Services Act 1992 Schedule 2, Part 2, Section 3 http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00304

        4) Public Services Act 1999 http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00511

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        0
        In practice, to what extent are no state resources used in favor of or against political parties and individual candidates' electoral campaigns?More about indicator

        Overall, state resources could be considered to be used to favour one party or candidate as the system of parliamentary entitlements tends to favour the incumbent candidate. Although some particular aspects may not be terribly significant, the cumulative effects are significant.

        For example, staff, cars, offices, and travel resources are all often used election campaigns.

        Staff: A strong incumbency benefit, with Senators generally having 4 full-time staff - advice given to Parliamentarians seeking re-election states "Electorate employees may undertake activities in support of your own re-election but not in support of the election or re-election of others."

        Car: Parliamentarians receive a 'Private Plated Vehicle' for use (or an allowance in lieu). It is permissible for a Parliamentarian seeking re-election to place signage on their vehicle.

        Travel: Parliamentarians seeking re-election are able to travel within their electorate in support of their own election and claim travel allowance, providing they are eligible according to Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2012/19.

        Office Accommodation: Advice to Senators or Members seeking re-election is that "While your electorate office, equipment and facilities may be used in support of your own re-election campaign, the primary use of the office is to provide a service to constituents." and are are not be to used as election campaign headquarters.

        Printing and communications allowance: Approved by the Parliamentary Entitlements Regulations 1997, these are regularly used as an incumbency benefit. Whilst 'how-to-vote' cards can no longer be printed using the entitlement, 'postal vote' application forms are allowed. These must be in a standard format approved by the Australian Electoral Commission, and a total amount up to a maximum of 50% of the enrolled voters in an electorate, or in the case of Senators, " up to a number equal to 50 per cent of the number of enrolled voters in the State or Territory which he or she represents." But it is permissible that these forms to be accompanied by party material, a situation which creates an advantage for incumbents.

        One way in which commentators have claimed that Governments use state resources to their own advantage is through government advertising. Admittedly a subjective and 'grey' area, some examples cited include; commentators claiming there is a consistent and clear trend of Government's ramping up of advertising well before the official election period; full-page newspaper advertisements taken out by the Labour government purportedly aimed at potential asylum seekers in Indonesia and neighbouring countries, some 4 or so months before the latest Federal Election. A number of commentators agreed with the sentiment that this is an area that has been vulnerable to manipulation in recent years.

        One minor example of a loophole occurred during the 2013 election; the Palmer United Party observed the 5 day pre-election media blackout on political advertisements. But the backer of the party, Clive Palmer, advertised his resort business during this period, arguably keeping his personal brand in the public eye. These advertisements were presumably funded by the resort, but the Palmer United Party did receive $2.31 million in public funding after the 2013 election, which could have feasibly been steered anywhere within Mr Palmer's suite of interests.

        Tax-deductibility status for personal donations to political parties or independent parties could also be construed as using a state resource (the foregone tax revenue) to help the recipient. Whilst the rule itself does not favour one party or candidate, the benefit derived from the rule accumulates to the party or candidate that attracts the most personal donations. (business and union donations are not eligible)

        Finally, it can be argued that the very structure of public funding eligibility favours the major parties or those parties or candidates that can find a rich backer willing to loan funds on the presumption that it will be paid back if the party or candidate obtains 4% of the primary vote. By having funding disconnected from expenditure, no expenditure cap and having such a long time lag between expenditure and reimbursement, parties / candidates without a large amount of funds / cash flow are placed at a significant disadvantage to larger or better funded parties / candidates.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where there is no evidence of authorities using state resources in favor of or against political parties and individual candidates. A 100 is also earned where there are clearly defined exceptions and are equally accessible to all actors.

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) documented evidence indicates occasional use of state resources in favor of or against political parties and individual candidates, or 2) clearly defined exceptions are not equally accessible to all actors.

        A 0 score is earned where documented evidence indicates regular use of state resources in favor of or against certain political parties and individual candidates.

        Sources

        1) Interview Name: Graeme Orr Position: Professor, Law Institution: University of Queensland Date: 29th August, 2014

        2)"Senators and Members seeking re-election - Questions and Answers - Printing and Communication" Department of Finance website Updated March 2013 http://maps.finance.gov.au/Election/Senators-Members-Re-election-Printing-Communications.htm

        3) Section 3.9.4 "Senators and Members' entitlements handbook" Ministerial and Parliamentary Services - Department of Finance http://maps.finance.gov.au/entitlementshandbooks/senators-and-members/EntitlementsSummary-AccommodationOfficeFacilities.asp#Printing

        4) Nic Christensen,"Government ramps up ad spend by 50 per cent as election looms, new numbers suggest." Mumbrella website, 16th May, 2013. http://mumbrella.com.au/government-ad-spend-up-50-per-cent-as-print-and-mags-take-a-hit-156120

        5) Tim Burrows,"The government’s boat visa ads are targeting voters, not asylum seekers." Mumbrella website, 21st July, 2013. http://mumbrella.com.au/the-governments-boat-visa-ads-are-targeting-voters-not-asylum-seekers-168299

        6) Daniel Hurst, "How Clive Palmer kept his brand alive during election ad blackout." Sydney Morning Herald, 10th September, 2013. http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2013/how-clive-palmer-kept-his-brand-alive-during-election-ad-blackouts-20130910-2thg3.html

        7) Interview Murray Green Media Development Adviser and Media Lawyer Independent Consultant 11th September, 2014

        8) Interview Senator Lee Rhiannon Senator for New South Wales, Australian Greens 17th September, 2014

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        NO
        In law, political parties and individual candidates have free or subsidized access to equitable air time for electoral campaigns?More about indicator

        Political parties and individual candidates do not have free access to equitable air time for electoral campaigns inscribed in law.

        Within the Broadcasting Services Act, there are some general fairness conditions for broadcasters but these do not extend to provision of airtime. "(2) If, during an election period, a broadcaster broadcasts election matter, the broadcaster must give reasonable opportunities for the broadcasting of election matter to all political parties contesting the election, being parties which were represented in either House of the Parliament for which the election is to be held at the time of its last meeting before the election period. (3) This clause does not require a broadcaster to broadcast any matter free of charge."

        Amongst the publicly funded broadcasters, the Australian Broadcasting Corporations (ABC) Act contains sections that address the issue of broadcasting political matter, but nothing that dictates equitable access for political parties. However, the ABC board does release a policy on the matter that contains proportionality principles, but this is not law.

        In a similar manner, publicly (and commercially) funded Special Broadcasting Services (SBS) does not have equitable access inscribed in law but has developed a Code of Practice which involves: "the allocation of free airtime to qualifying political parties during federal and state government elections, as community information (see Code 6); • the allocation of free airtime to represent the Yes/No cases in referendums, as community information (see Code 6)"

        Another prism for viewing this issue is what commentators call the 'permanent campaign', with electioneering constantly taking place throughout the term of the government. Under this scenario of permanent electoral campaigns, all government advertising has the potential to be seen as airtime that can favour the incumbent government. A number of commentators agreed with the sentiment that this is an area which has been vulnerable to manipulation in recent years.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) free or subsidized access to air time for electoral campaigns is granted in a transparent, equitable way, and 2) there are clearly defined eligibility criteria.

        A MODERATE score is earned where free or subsidized access to air time for electoral campaigns is granted in a transparent, equitable way, but eligibility criteria are not clearly defined.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        1) Broadcasting Services Act 1992, Schedule 2, Part 2, Section 3. 1992. http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00304/Html/Volume1#Toc391459308

        2) Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983, Part VIII, section 79A. 1983. http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00434

        3) "ALLOCATION OF FREE BROADCAST TIME TO POLITICAL PARTIES DURING ELECTION PERIODS." Statement of policy approved by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Board. 2013. http://about.abc.net.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/FreeTimeElectionBroadcasts2013.pdf

        4) "SBS Code of Practice 2014." Political Broadcasts and Election Coverage. 2014. http://media.sbs.com.au/home/uploadmedia/site20rand1967090148sbscodesofpractice_2014.pdf

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        50
        In practice, to what extent is free or subsidized access to air time provided in a transparent, equitable way to political parties and individual candidates for electoral campaigns?More about indicator

        Not applicable. No free or subsidized access to media advertising is guaranteed in law.

        However, in practice, a small amount of free or subsidised access to air time is provided in a transparent, equitable way to political parties for electoral campaigns, with some caveats on the equitability. The access is voluntarily provided by the publicly funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the publicly and commercially funded Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) in accordance with the self-published guidelines and outlined below.

        Commercial media organisations have some conditions of fairness attached to their licence but are under no obligation to provide free or subsidised access to airtime. The main form in which such access is provided occurs via leadership debates. These debates are not inscribed in law and are a matter of negotiation between the parties and the media organisation.

        For example, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) board formulated a position paper on this topic. Completely separate from the news and current affairs reporting, this position paper dictates that during an election period: - The government and 'official opposition' ("the second largest political party or coalition of parties") are granted equal air time. In reality, the 'official opposition' party/ies' is subject to a series of conditions that restrict eligibility to either Labour or the Liberal / National coalition. ABC also covers production costs for standard in-studio speeches. - Time allocated: "In federal elections, the Government and official Opposition parties will be granted 31 minutes 30 seconds of free time on ABC1 Television and 31 minutes 30 seconds on ABC Local Radio. The time is allocated as follows: 18 minutes for policy announcements on television and radio, divided into twelve 90-second spots on ABC1 and six 3-minute spots on ABC Local Radio; and 13 minutes 30 seconds for the party’s final pitch in the last week of the election period." - In addition, minor or new parties can access varying levels of ABC air time (6 or 9 minutes respectively) according to the eligibility criteria of: * Parties must stand candidates in 10% (20% for 9 min airtime) of electorates and a majority of state and territories * Parties must have a Member of Parliament or Senator or have 5% (10% for 9 min airtime) support in a credible poll

        Interview sources argue that this favours incumbency, and particularly the 2 established major parties at the expense of smaller groups or candidates, particularly independents. There have been political parties that have made use of the 'credible poll' rule, such as One Nation.

        The voluntary guidelines of the SBS state: 2.1 Government and Official Opposition SBS provides an equal allocation of free airtime to the Government and the Official Opposition in the outgoing parliament. 2.2 Other parties SBS allocates free airtime to other registered political parties that are fielding a significant number of candidates in the election and have significant public support. For the purposes of these guidelines, such parties are referred to as ‘minor parties’. Parties which satisfy the following criteria will qualify as minor parties and will be allocated free airtime: the party must contest at least 10 per cent of seats for the House of Representatives in a majority of states/territories or nominate at least one candidate in a majority of states/territories for the Senate (that is, at least five candidates across five state/territories) and must: ? have at least two sitting members in the current parliament; or ? have polled at least five per cent of the votes in either the House of Representatives or the Senate at the previous general election; or ? demonstrate at least five per cent national public support in a recognised, independent public opinion poll conducted within three months prior to the issues of the write for the election.

        3.1 Federal elections – SBS Television SBS allocates free television airtime for the presentation of: a party’s policy speech which represents the party’s election campaign launch, or a speech of similar significance, and prepared statements on major election issues. 3.1.1 Policy speeches SBS offers uninterrupted free airtime to qualifying parties for the broadcast of their policy speeches during an election period as follows: Government – maximum 27 minutes Official Opposition – maximum 27 minutes minor party – maximum 13 minutes (see also ‘Minor party variation’ below) A qualifying party may elect to broadcast a policy speech of less than the maximum permitted duration. However each qualifying party will be allocated free airtime for only one policy speech. 3.1.2 Statements on major election issues SBS offers free airtime to qualifying parties for the broadcast of prepared statements on major election issues during an election period as follows: Government / Official Opposition – a total of 12 minutes of up to six segments with a minimum of two and maximum of three minutes duration each. Minor party – a total of 6 minutes of up to three segments with a minimum of two and maximum of three minutes duration each (see also ‘Minor party variation’ below). Qualifying parties may elect to broadcast statements of less than two minutes, but the number of segments allocated to each party may not increase. 3.1.3 Minor party variation SBS may, at its discretion and subject to scheduling requirements, provide a minor party with the opportunity to deliver its policy speech and statements on major election issues in segments of varying duration, provided that: the reasons for departing from the above duration guidelines are provided; the combined duration of the policy speech and the statements on major election issues does not exceed 19 minutes; and the total number of segments broadcast does not exceed four.

        3.2 .2 Federal elections – SBS Radio SBS allocates free radio airtime to qualifying parties for the broadcast of pre-recorded in- language statements on major election issues in the form of 60-second announcements on the relevant language program. The statements will be broadcast on SBS Radio’s  national   network (or, if not available on the national network, the relevant service). The total number of 60-second segments offered is based on the maximum number of one hour language programs broadcast each week in the relevant language on any one network as set out in the table below. Attachment 1 details the number of segments available by language program.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) free or subsidized access to media advertising is always provided in a transparent and equitable way, and 2) the defined eligibility criteria are applied consistently.

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) free or subsidized access to media advertising is usually provided in a transparent and equitable way, but exceptions exist, or 2) the eligibility criteria are not always applied.

        A 0 score is earned where: 1) there's rarely free or subsidized access to air time for political campaign, and 2) access exists but is not provided in a transparent, equitable way.

        Sources

        1) "Allocation of free broadcast time to political parties during election periods. ABC board. January 2013. http://about.abc.net.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/FreeTimeElectionBroadcasts2013.pdf

        2) "GUIDELINES ON ALLOCATION & USE OF FREE AIRTIME FEDERAL ELECTIONS AND REFERENDUMS." SBS. 2014. http://www.sbs.com.au/aboutus/corporate/view/id/921/h/Elections-and-Referendums-SBS-s-Free-Airtime-Policy

        3) Interview Murray Green Media Development Adviser and Media Lawyer Independent Consultant 11th September, 2014

        4) Interview Name: Graeme Orr Position: Professor, Law Institution: University of Queensland Date: 29th August, 2014

        5) Broadcasting Services Act 1992. Schedule 2, Part 2, Section 3, 1992. http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00304/Html/Volume1#Toc391459308

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    Contribution and Expenditure Restrictions

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    12
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      General Rules on Electoral Campaign Contributions
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        9
        Score
        NO
        In law, cash contributions are banned.More about indicator

        No such law exists. Cash donations are permitted.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where cash contributions are banned and all financial contributions must be made via the banking system.

        A MODERATE score is earned where cash contributions are allowed up to a maximum limit, regardless of the limit.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        1) Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (The Act) Link: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00616/Html/Text#_Toc396206129

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        10
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        NO
        In law, there is a ban on anonymous contributions.More about indicator

        In Australia, any donations to parties or candidates below the current threshold of of $12,400 (USD 11,010) (set at $10,000 in 2006 and indexed annually to the rate of inflation) can remain anonymous. In addition, due to a loophole, a donor can conceivably donate separately to each State and Territory branch of a Federal party, as well as the Federal party, resulting a total of $99,200 (USD 88,080) (8 X $12,400) being able to be donated without disclosing the identity of the donor.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where the law stipulates that anonymous contributions are banned.

        A MODERATE score is earned where the ban exists, but it applies only to one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates). A MODERATE score is also earned where small anonymous donations are allowed up to a maximum threshold equal to or less than the equivalent to US$300.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        1) Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, Part XX, Division 4, Sections 304-306. 1918. Link: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00616/Html/Text#_Toc396206095

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        11
        Score
        MODERATE
        In law, in-kind donations to political parties and individual candidates must be reported.More about indicator

        In-kind donations must be reported as part of the total amount received by a political party in their annual report. Candidates must report in-kind donations as part of their 'Candidate Return' outlining financials after elections. The donation is expected to be valued at normal market value rate. However, until the $12,400 (USD 11,010) threshold is reached, the donor of the in-kind contribution can remain anonymous.


        Peer reviewer comment: Agree. Note that the current disclosure threshold, from 1 July 2014, is $12,800

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where all in-kind donations must be reported to the oversight authority.

        A MODERATE score is also earned if the requirement to report such information exists, but applies only to one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates).

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        1) Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, Part XX, Division 5A, Section 314. 1918. Link: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00616/Html/Text#_Toc396206095

        Reviewer's sources: AEC, "Current Disclosure Threshold," July 2014. http://aec.gov.au/PartiesandRepresentatives/public_funding/threshold.htm

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        12
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        MODERATE
        In law, loans to political parties and individual candidates must be reported.More about indicator

        Loans must be reported as part of the total amount received by a political party in their annual report. Candidates must report conditional loans (those that are made with repayment contingent on the candidate obtaining 4% of the primary vote and thus being eligible for public funding) as part of their 'Candidate Return'. For both candidates and parties, if the loan is provided interest free or at lower rates than commercially available, it must be declared as an in-kind donation. However, until the $12,400 (USD 11,010) threshold is reached, the maker of the loan can remain anonymous.


        Peer reviewer comment: Agree. As with donations and in-kind donations, any loans under the disclosure threshold do not have to be reported on an individual basis, but are to be included in the 'gross amount of all cash and non-cash benefits received'. Parties and candidates must submit details of all loans over the threshold, including the lender's name, amount of the loan, interest payable on the loan, repayment schedule, and any special conditions attached to the loan. Note that if a person provides a combination of donations and loans in a financial year that individually do not reach the threshold, but collectively are over the threshold (e.g. a $5,000 donation and a $10,000 loan), these have to be reported. Whether a loan is conditional is immaterial, it is the size of the loan that determines whether it needs to be itemised in the report.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where all loans must be reported to the oversight authority.

        A MODERATE score is earned where loans must be reported, but the requirement applies only to one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates).

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        1) Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, Part XX, Division 5A, Section 314. 1918. Link: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00616/Html/Text#_Toc396206095

        Reviewer's sources: Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, Part XX, Division 5A, Section 314. 1918. Link: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00616/Html/Text#_Toc396206095

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      Limits on Contributions and Expenditures during Electoral Campaign Periods
      More about category
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        13
        Score
        NO
        In law, contributions from individuals are limited to a maximum amount.More about indicator

        No such law exists. There are no caps on contributions.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) individuals may not contribute more than a maximum amount established by the law.

        A MODERATE score is earned where a maximum amount exists, but it applies only to contributions for one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates). A MODERATE score is also earned where individuals are forbidden from making any contribution.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        1) Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, Part XX. 1918. Link: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00616/Html/Text#_Toc396206095"

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        14
        Score
        NO
        In law, contributions from corporations are limited to a maximum amount.More about indicator

        No such law exists. There are no caps on individual contributions, including from corporations.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) corporations may not contribute more than a maximum amount established by the law.

        A MODERATE score is earned where a maximum amount or ban exists, but it applies only to contributions for one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates). A MODERATE score is also earned where corporations are forbidden from making any contribution.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        1) Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, Part XX. 1918. Link: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00616/Html/Text#_Toc396206095"

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        15
        Score
        NO
        In law, contributions from foreign sources are banned.More about indicator

        No such law exists.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where it is forbidden for political parties and individual candidates to receive contributions (financial or in-kind) from foreign sources.

        A MODERATE score is earned where: 1) the ban exists but it applies only to one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates), or 2) contributions from foreign sources are allowed to a maximum amount.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        1) Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, Part XX. 1918. Link: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00616/Html/Text#_Toc396206095"

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        16
        Score
        NO
        In law, contributions from third-party actors (unions, foundations, think tanks, political action committees, etc.) are limited to a maximum amount or banned.More about indicator

        No such law exists. Corporations and individuals from all industries and sectors of the community are able to freely make political donations.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) third-party actors may not contribute more than a maximum amount established by the law, or 2) are forbidden from making any contribution.

        A MODERATE score is earned where: 1) the maximum amount or ban exists only for the majority of third-party actors, but not all, or 2) the maximum amount or ban exists, but applies only to contributions for either political parties or individual candidates.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        1) Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, Part XX. 1918. Link: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00616/Html/Text#_Toc396206095"

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        17
        Score
        NO
        In law, election campaign spending by political parties and individual candidates is limited to a maximum amount.More about indicator

        No such law exists

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where it is forbidden for political parties and individual candidates to spend more than a certain amount in a political campaign.

        A MODERATE score is earned where the maximum amount exists, but it applies only to one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates).

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        1) Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, Part XX. 1918. Link: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00616/Html/Text#_Toc396206095"

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        18
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        Open Question: Do the national laws regulating political finance also apply to sub-national units? If not, to what extent do sub-national units have laws regulating political finance?More about indicator

        National laws regulating political finance do not apply to sub-national units.

        Each State or Territory government has its own framework of laws regulating political finance at the State / Territory and the Local Government level and these differ from state to state. As an example, Graeme Orr writes that Queensland's regulation has "veered from mimicking the Commonwealth's light touch regulation, to highly regulated, and back to light regulation, in barely one electoral cycle. (2011-14)"

        As in most regulatory issues, there are both problems and positive aspects arising from the differing frameworks at Federal and State level. The problems are highlighted by Sophie Morris in her piece for the Saturday Paper "The rules are so lax and complicated, with variations between state and federal laws, and the loopholes so huge, that much of this funding need never be disclosed."

        This variation between state and federal laws has played a key role in one of the major political finance scandals of recent decades. A New South Wales (NSW) Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) investigation has been told that different disclosure frameworks at Federal and State level were exploited to channel funds from property developers in New South Wales to the NSW Liberal Party via mechanisms associated with the Federal Liberal Party. Donations from developers are banned in NSW, but not at the Federal level. An investigation by the NSW ICAC was told that "...most NSW donations to the Free Enterprise ­Foundation before the March 2011 state election were from property ­developers..."

        Another difference is the surrounding institutions; the scandal above was prompted by the NSW ICAC investigation. The Federal level does not currently have an equivalent body and the situation varies in each State or Territory.


        Peer reviewer comment: Agree - An additional problem in relation to national/state differences in political finance regulation is constitutional. According to Prof Anne Twomey, 'There are good grounds to argue that recent changes to NSW election funding laws, contained in the Election Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Amendment Act 2012 (NSW) are constitutionally suspect because they breach the implied freedom of political communication'. The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (Federal Parliament) has also inquired into state political fiannce reforms, noting that 'Banning certain categories of donors or donations could potentially be an infringement of individual rights to use political donations as a means of participating in the democratic process'. However, it should be noted that, given that JSCEM inquiries are dominated by the Labor and Coalition parties, there is usually some degree of self-interest evident in committee findings.

        Scoring Criteria

        Please describe the applicability of national political finance regulations at the sub-national level, being sure to answer: 1) whether national laws are applicable to sub-national campaigns; 2) if not, to what extent do sub-national units have similar laws regulating political finance; and 3) whether there are any reports of problems arising from gaps in this framework.

        Sources

        1) Graeme Orr, "Putting the Cartel before the House?" Draft for 'Legal Regulation of Political Parties in Australia' workshop, Sydney University. June 2014.

        2) Interview Name: Graeme Orr Position: Professor, Law Institution: University of Queensland Date: 29th August, 2014

        3) Sophie Morris, "Politics's hidden millions in party favours." Saturday Paper. 30th August, 2014. http://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2014/08/30/politics-hidden-millions-party-favours/1409320800

        4) Neil Chenoweth, "ICAC - email links Federal Libs to Free Enterprise Foundation scheme." Australian Financial Review. 5th September, 2014 http://www.afr.com/p/national/icacemailtraillinksfederallibsnLqJ0bAwjewiyd88R8pHyK

        5) Bob Burton, "Will voters find out who is funding Tasmanian local government election campaigns?" Tasmanian Times. 21st July, 2014. http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php/article/will-voters-find-out-who-is-funding-tasmania-local-government-election-camp

        Reviewer's sources: Twomey, A. (2012). Constitutional issues concerning the validity of NSW election funding laws. Democratic or Draconian? Recent Reforms to Political Funding in NSW (ERRN Seminar) 2012, Sydney, NSW: Presentation.

        Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (Federal Parliament), "Inquiry into the funding of political parties and election campaigns," 2011, p.84. http://www.aph.gov.au/ParliamentaryBusiness/Committees/HouseofRepresentativesCommittees?url=em/political%20funding/report.htm.

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        19
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        Open Question: What are the predominant sources of funding for electoral campaigns?More about indicator

        Australia has a varied composition of corporate, individual and public funding which varies from party to party, candidate to candidate and year to year. It is not really possible to tell which is the predominant form of funding due to the amount of funding and expenditure that can go undisclosed and the inability to tell whether donors of disclosed funding are individuals or corporations.

        In terms of discolsed sources of funding, all major parties have a mix of corporate, individual and public funding and these vary from year to year, with a recent trend towards growth in private / corporate donations. As an example of variability, the Greens are now embedded as the 'third' party in Australia and they generally survive on public funding as they attract a proportion of the primary vote that is well above the 4% threshold. But in 2010 they received a one-off $1.6 million (USD 1,387,208) donation from a wealthy entrepreneur passionate about environmental causes.

        Further reinforcing the variability of funding sources, many commentators have noted the shift of funding pre-election when it seems one party or the other is more likely to win power. Cathy Alexander summarises this situation in relation to the last election in her article, citing sources that claimed the Coalition was receiving much more funding than Labor. Unfortunately the funding situation for the most recent election cannot be clarified as, the donation figures are not available until February 2015. However, Cathy Alexander stated that "The major parties will hope to raise more than $35 million each for the September election, including public funding". The 'Election Funding and Disclosure Report' tells us that, in total, 12 parties qualified for public funding in the 2013 Federal Election, sharing a total of roughly $57.8 million (USD 50,112,888). Of that amount, Liberal and Labor received $23.8 million (USD 20.63 million) and $20.8 million (USD 18.03 million) in public funding, respectively. Interview sources hazard a guess that perhaps public funding is currently the predominant source of funding for the major parties.

        Yet another journalist, Jacqueline Ning, cites Graeme Orr and claims that the Coalition spent $700 million (USD 607 million) on advertising alone between 1996 and 2005, leaving the sources of funding unclear. Some interviewees believe private donations have overtaken public funding as a source.

        Yet even when the political donation figures become available, it will be impossible to ascertain whether much of the the money comes from an individual or a corporate donor. This is due to the use of 'associated entities', which Jacqueline Ning describes as "...basically fundraising organisations for political parties; they invest money and receive donations on behalf of the party." and that "Each year, they need to report to the AEC how much they made/received, but they don’t have to break this figure down to specify donations and donors, meaning that corporations et al can remain anonymous. Associated entities are major contributors to political funds, accounting for 40% to 90% of revenue, depending on the year."

        Regardling non-disclosed donations, with no limits on expenditure, and with reporting of expenditures only required for 5 specific categories of political expenditure, it is impossible to know exactly how much is spent on campaigning, or even to have a reasonably accurate 'guesstimation' of expenditure. Thus, we cannot know how much non-disclosable funding is received and ultimately, what source is dominant amongst the full mix of funding for election campaigns. This concept is reinforced by Cathy Alexander's article citing an anonymous Liberal Member of Parliament “I’ve noticed a real culture of secrecy around these things in recent years … you could probably torture [federal director] Brian Loughnane and he wouldn’t reveal it.”

        Individual candidates also have a varied composition of funding. At the 2013 election, 9 independent candidates qualified for a total of roughly $255,000 (USD 221,086) of public funding. The AEC confirms that the total amount of donations declared by independent candidates in their returns was roughly $1.25 million (USD 1.08).

        In terms of campaign fund generation, there are several ways in which parties can, and do, raise funds beyond attracting donations. As outlined by Bernard Keane and others, both major parties have been selling access to their politicians in the form of high-priced dinners and 'memberships' to special forums. Additionally, an ongoing case at the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption has heard claims that donors to the Liberal Party were offered special access to the Prime Minister and the party's policy.


        Peer reviewer comment: Agree - In addition, parties can develop businesses that provide income streams. Although such business income is not necessarily used for campaign purposes, the income allows parties to be more self-sufficient. For example, the Labor Party was able to purchase a building, then lease out teh office space to a goverbnment entity at extremely favourable rates to the party, at a time when Labor was in Government.

        Scoring Criteria

        Please describe the important sources of funding for electoral campaigns, being sure to answer: 1) where does the preponderance of funding come from - public, individual, corporate, or other; 2) to what extent do individual candidates self-finance; and 3) do political parties have other methods of generating campaign funds, such as owning their own businesses or trusts.

        Sources

        1) Paddy Manning, "Web millionaire bankrolled Greens." Sydney Morning Herald, 8th January, 2011 http://www.smh.com.au/national/web-millionaire-bankrolled-greens-20110107-19iw9.html

        2) Cathy Alexander, "7 - The moneybags." Crikey, 28th May, 2013. http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/05/28/the-power-index-election-deciders-the-moneybags-at-7/?wpmp_switcher=mobile

        3) Australian Electoral Commission, "Election Funding and Disclosure Report." AEC. April 2014. http://www.aec.gov.au/AboutAEC/Publications/ReportsOnFederalElectoral_Events/2013/fad/files/funding-disclosure-2013.pdf

        4) Jacqueline Ning, "Money, politics and the campaign arms race: corporates outspend citizens." Crikey. 21st August, 2013. http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/08/21/money-politics-and-the-campaign-arms-race-corporates-outspend-citizens/?wpmp_switcher=mobile

        5) Interview Zim Nworoka McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow Law School, University of Melbourne 15th September 2014

        6) Kate McClymont, "ICAC lifts suppression order on Peta Credlin and Paul Nicolaou emails." Sydney Morning Herald. 8th September, 2014. http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/icac-lifts-suppression-order-on-peta-credlin-and-paul-nicolaou-emails-20140908-10dr7v.html

        7) Interview Senator Lee Rhiannon Senator for New South Wales, Australian Greens 17th September, 2014.

        Reviewer's sources: Alan Ramsey, 'Time to kill Labor's golden goose.' 13th March 2004 http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/03/12/1078594563825.html

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        20
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        Open Question: Have there been documented instances of violations of contribution or expenditure limits or any of the laws mentioned above (Section 2)?More about indicator

        There have not been any documented cases of violation of 1) Contribution limits. This is because there is no contribution limit. 2) Expenditure limits. This is because there is no expenditure limit. 3) Financial contributions that circumvent the regulatory framework. There have not been reports of explicit violations of the regulatory framework but there have been several high-profile (and on-going) documented instances of parties 'gaming the system' at the Federal level, especially in coordination with State level parties. These are listed below.

        Mike Seccombe reported in the "Half million dollar cure" one potential violation of the regulatory framework, if it hadn't been picked up by the Australian Electoral Commission via monitoring of 'Associated Entity' returns. A $500,000 donation wasn't reported by either the donor (Paul Ramsay Holdings) or the party. But the 'Free Enteprise Foundation' an associated entity of the Federal Liberal Party reported both the receipt and payment of the $500,000. The AEC worked with Paul Ramsay Holdings and the Federal Liberal Party to amend their returns to show the $500,000.

        An ongoing story also features the 'Free Enterprise Foundation' funnelling donations from property developers from the Federal Liberal Party to the State level. These type of donations are not illegal at the Federal level but they are at the State level. But with the use of the 'associated entity' mechanism, it was not possible for the state level authorities to determine where the money originally came from.

        Ultimately though, there isn't much need for violation of limits or regulatory framework because there are so few limits, or the restrictive elements of the regulatory framework are easily by-passed. For example, if an actor wishes to play a role in election campaigns without being identified, there are several options available, including donating to an 'associated entity' of a party, making several smaller, non-disclosable donations to both the state and federal levels of the party or taking out a high priced 'subscription', 'membership' or 'paying for a service' instead of making a donation.


        Peer reviewer comment: Agree - In its 2014 report, the AEC states that it conducted 93 compliance reviews of submitted returns between 2011 and 2014, and identified errors in 50 of them (p.23). However, these were all deemed to be accidental errors, and all 50 were amended by the submitters, without any penalty or further action required (p.26).

        Scoring Criteria

        Please list and describe all documented instances of: 1) violation of contribution limits, 2) violation of expenditure limits, and 3) financial contributions that circumvent the regulatory framework. The objective of this question is to learn more about the local context, so please explain the cases in as much detail as relevant.

        Sources

        1) Mike Seccombe, "The half-million dollar cure." The Global Mail. 23rd August 2013. http://www.theglobalmail.org/feature/the-half-million-dollar-cure/686/index.html#comments

        2)6) Kate McClymont, "ICAC lifts suppression order on Peta Credlin and Paul Nicolaou emails." Sydney Morning Herald. 8th September, 2014. http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/icac-lifts-suppression-order-on-peta-credlin-and-paul-nicolaou-emails-20140908-10dr7v.html

        3) Interview Zim Nworoka McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow Law School, University of Melbourne 15th September 2014

        Reviewer's sources: Australian Electoral Commission, "Election Funding and Disclosure Report." April 2014. http://www.aec.gov.au/AboutAEC/Publications/ReportsOnFederalElectoral_Events/2013/fad/files/funding-disclosure-2013.pdf

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    Reporting and Public Disclosure

    More about category
    composite
    64
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      Reporting Requirements to the Oversight Entity
      More about category
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        21
        Score
        MODERATE
        In law, political parties and individual candidates report itemized contributions and expenditures both during and outside electoral campaign periods.More about indicator

        The laws governing this area result in a limited and partial reporting of itemised contributions and expenditure, both by political parties and individual candidates during and outside electoral campaign periods. During electoral campaign periods, only candidates are required to submit financial reports, and parties submit annual reports to the AEC.

        Candidates report itemised contributions (above the disclosure threshold) and expenditures (aggregated in 5 categories), only during the disclosure period for the election. The length of the disclosure period depends upon various factors including whether the candidate has stood in previous elections and their endorsement status. This period generally ends 30 days after polling day.

        Contributions: Only the total amount received and number of donors is reported, unless a donation exceeds the disclosure threshold, in which case the donor's details are reported and donor must also complete a report. Expenditures: There are 5 categories of election related expenditure that a candidate must declare, including broadcasting advertisements, publishing advertisements, displaying electoral advertisements, production of campaign material, production and distribution of electoral matter and carrying out opinion polling. Many other items such as administration and wages, do not have to be declared. If a candidate is endorsed by a registered political party and receives donations through their Campaign Committee, the political party will disclose details, as below.

        Political parties - complete a 'Political Party Disclosure Return' annually and submit to Australian Electoral Commission within 20 weeks of the end of the financial year (30th June). These are publicly released roughly 24 weeks after submission, normally in February

        Contributions: Only the total amount and total number of donors is required to be reported, unless a donation exceeds the disclosure threshold of $12,400, in which case the donor's details are reported and the donor must also complete a report.

        Expenditures: Only the gross amount of payments for the financial year are required to be reported; no itemisation is required.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where political parties and individual candidates are required to report itemized contributions and expenditures to the oversight authority, both during and outside electoral campaign periods.

        A MODERATE score is earned where: 1) the requirement applies for itemized contributions, but not for itemized expenditures, or 2) it applies only during the electoral campaign but not outside it. A MODERATE score is also earned where the requirement exists, but it only applies to one actor (whether political parties and individual candidates).

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        1) Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, Part XX, Division 5A, Sections 287, 304, 306, 307, 308, 309, 313, 314. 1918. Link: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00616/Html/Text#_Toc396206095

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        22
        Score
        MODERATE
        In law, political parties and individual candidates are required to report their financial information on a monthly basis during the electoral campaign.More about indicator

        In law, during the electoral campaign political parties and individual candidates are not required to report their financial information. (The official electoral campaign period is from when 'writs' are issued by the Prime Minister until polling day, with a minimum of 33 and a maximum of 68 days) This information is only required to be reported following the election in 'election returns' completed by individual candidates or Senate groups. For such candidates and groups, the reporting requirement amounts to, at most, 1 post election report per election period.

        In the case of political parties and the handling of funds for their endorsed candidates, financial information is only disclosed in annual returns, normally due in October and publicly released in February. As an example, the political party figures from the 2013 election will not be in the public domain until February 2015.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where political parties and individual candidates must report monthly their financial information to the oversight authority during the electoral campaign.

        A MODERATE score is earned where the requirement exists on a quarterly basis. A MODERATE score is also earned where the requirement only applies to one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates).

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        1) Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, Part XX, Division 5A, Sections 287, 304, 306, 307, 308, 309, 313, 314. 1918. Link: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00616/Html/Text#_Toc396206095

        2) Federal Election Timetable. Australian Electoral Commission. Last updated 25th March, 2013. http://www.aec.gov.au/elections/australianelectoralsystem/electoralprocedures/FederalElection_Timetable.htm

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        23
        Score
        MODERATE
        In law, political parties and individual candidates are required to report their financial information on a quarterly basis outside of electoral campaign periods.More about indicator

        Only parties are required to report on their financial information outside of campaign periods. They do so on an annual basis.

        Individual candidates are only required to submit financial information that occurred during the disclosure period around an election. This is done within 20 weeks of the election.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where political parties and individual candidates must report quarterly their financial information to the oversight authority outside of electoral campaign periods.

        A MODERATE score is earned where the requirement exists on a yearly basis. A MODERATE score is also earned where the requirement only applies to one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates).

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        1) Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, Part XX, Division 5A, Sections 287, 304, 306, 307, 308, 309, 313, 314. 1918. Link: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00616/Html/Text#_Toc396206095

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        24
        Score
        0
        In practice, to what extent do political parties and individual candidates report itemized financial information monthly?More about indicator

        In practice, political parties and individual candidates do not report itemised financial financial information monthly during election periods. The requirement for political parties is for annual reporting only and much of the information is not itemised, due to the $12,400 disclosure threshold and the requirement for gross expenditure figures only. There are very few examples of political parties or individual candidates voluntarily exceeding the reporting requirements. One example is the Labour Party policy to report all donations above the $1,000 threshold that was removed in 2006 but even this results only in partial itemisation.

        Individual candidates are only required to submit financial information that occurred during the disclosure period around an election and much of the information is not itemised, due to the $12,400 disclosure threshold and the requirement for gross expenditure figures only in 6 categories of electoral expenditure. The AEC 'Election Funding and Disclosure Report' tells us that after the 2013 election, 99% of the 1717 candidates required to submit returns had done so.


        Peer reviewer comment: Agree - Although the 'election season' has another meaning, the 'disclosure period' for candidates in Australian federal elections can vary from 6 years to 60 days, depending on the circumstances of the particular candidate, with only one report required, which is due to be lodged almost 3 months after the end of the reporting period. So there is no reporting during the election season (if the meaning of election season is the period from the start of the campaign, e.g. issuing of writs, to the declaration of results), but one report per campaign is due. However, the Australian system does not require fully itemized reporting, so I support the researcher's score.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) political parties and individual candidates report on their financial information monthly, and 2) the reports include both itemized contributions and itemized expenditures.

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) the reports are occasionally general rather than itemized or don't contain all accounts, or 2) the reporting frequency is quarterly.

        A 0 score is earned where: 1) political parties and individual candidates rarely or never file reports, 2) the reports are filed but are rarely or never itemized or refer only to either contributions or expenditures, or 3) the reporting frequency is less than quarterly.

        Sources

        1) Bernard Keane,"Political Donations - How Labor got crushed by the Liberal fundraising machine." Crikey. 2nd March, 2014. http://www.crikey.com.au/2014/02/03/political-donations-how-labor-got-crushed-by-the-liberal-money-machine/?wpmp_switcher=mobile

        2) Interview Graeme Orr Professor, Law University of Queensland 29th August, 2014

        3) Australian Electoral Commission, "Summary of Political Expenditure Returns - 2012-13." Australian Electoral Commission website. 13th August, 2014. Link: http://periodicdisclosures.aec.gov.au/SummaryPoliticalExpenditure.aspx

        4) Australian Electoral Commission, "Election Funding and Disclosure Report." April 2014. http://www.aec.gov.au/AboutAEC/Publications/ReportsOnFederalElectoral_Events/2013/fad/files/funding-disclosure-2013.pdf

        Reviewer's sources: AEC, "Financial Disclosure Guide for Candidates," 2014. http://www.aec.gov.au/PartiesandRepresentatives/financial_disclosure/guides/candidates/election.htm#period

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        25
        Score
        50
        In practice, to what extent do financial reports by political parties and individual candidates include all types of contributions?More about indicator

        In practice, financial reports by political parties and individual candidates include all TYPES of contributions above $12,400, but any below the threshold of $12,400 are not itemised, meaning neither identifiers nor contribution type are listed. In addition, the categorisation of contributions is very broad, meaning that several types of contributions are labelled 'other'.

        Political Parties: Financial reports include all types of contributions. The AEC list the transactions that are to be included in a 'Political Party Disclosure Return': Money In-kind services and goods Membership subscriptions Loan monies received Returns on investments Proceeds from sale of assets Public funding provided by the Commonwealth or State or Territory

        Evidence from the return of the 'Liberal Party of Australia' for the 2012/13 financial year shows that identifiers are supplied - name and address of person / organisation and that amounts are listed as 'donation', 'other' or 'gift in-kind'. The label 'other' is essentially applied to all transactions that "do not meet the legislative definition of 'gift' (commonly referred to as donation). Examples of amounts which fall into the category of 'other receipts' are interest on investments, dividends on shares, market rate rent received on properties owned." Debts of more than $12,100 (the 2012/13 threshold) are also listed.

        Individual Candidates: Candidates that are not endorsed by a registered political party and receive contributions are required to submit a 'Canidate Return' which does not itemise any transactions below the disclosure threshold of $12,400. Above the disclosure threshold, the candidate is not required to specify what type of contribution was received, simply listing the value of the donation and name and address identifiers. The Candidate Return of independent Kidima Mubarak shows the categories that are required, listing only 'Received from', 'Date of donation' and 'Value of donation'

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) reports include an itemized list of all contributions indicating their type (in-kind, cash where allowed, etc.) and amount (estimated value for in-kind contributions), and 2) contain donors' names and addresses (or other personal identifier).

        A 50 score is earned where only one of the two conditions listed in the 100 criteria is met.

        A 0 score is earned where neither condition is met.

        Sources

        1) Political Party Disclosure Return, Financial Year 2012/13, Liberal Party of Australia. Australian Electoral Commission. Submitted: 18th October, 2013. Last update: 13th August 2014 Link: http://periodicdisclosures.aec.gov.au/Party.aspx

        2) Candidate Return - for election held on 7 September 2013, Kidima Mubarak. Australian Electoral Commission. Submitted: 13th November, 2013. Last update: 13th August 2014 Link: http://electiondisclosures.aec.gov.au/Candidate.aspx?SubmissionID=17496&ClientID=32292

        3) Glossary of Terms - Annual Report Locator Service. Australian Electoral Commission. Last Updated 13th August, 2014. http://periodicdisclosures.aec.gov.au/Glossary.aspx

        4) Interview Zim Nworoka McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow Law School, University of Melbourne 15th September 2014

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      Availability of Electoral Campaigns' Financial Information to the Public
      More about category
      • expand button!
        26
        Score
        YES
        In law, financial information from political parties and individual candidates must be available to the public.More about indicator

        In law, financial information from political parties and individual candidates must be available to the public but with very low requirements regarding time and format. Section 320 of the Act states that "Any person is entitled to peruse, at the principal office of the Electoral Commission in Canberra, a copy of a claim or return". In addition to this however, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) makes the returns publicly available online and through public access terminals in AEC offices. This takes place on the first working day of February each year, the date specified in Section 320, and some 7 months after the end of the financial year.

        One complementary aspect of the financial information being made public is the 'Electoral Funding and Disclosure Report' prepared after each federal election, pursuant to subsection 17(2) of the Act. This lists the exact amounts of public funding given to political parties and individual candidates and lists all persons whom may be required to submit a return. The Minister is, under law, require to submit this report to both Houses of Parliament within 15 sitting days of receipt, thus making it publicly available. The report for the 2013 Federal election was released 7 months after the election.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where in law financial information of political parties and individual candidates must be made available to the public, whether online or digitally within two days of request.

        A MODERATE score is earned where financial information must be made available to the public, but no requirement exists regarding cost, format or number of days within which it must be made available.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        1) Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (The Act), Sections 17, 320. 1918. Link: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00616/Html/Text#_Toc396206129

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        27
        Score
        100
        In practice, to what extent can citizens easily access the financial information of all political parties and individual candidates?More about indicator

        In practice, citizens can easily access the published financial information of all political parties and individual candidates. Annual returns from political parties and candidate returns are easily available on the AEC website, albeit with a significant time lag (7.5 months after elections for candidates and third parties and 7-18 months for political parties and their endorsed candidates with campaign committees). Whilst the returns themselves are a simple pdf scan of the original document, all financial data can be extracted in machine readable formats (XLS, CSV, XML) .

        Christian Kerr's article demonstrates both the ease of access and the significant time lags, particularly for political parties and their candidates - 5 months after the Federal election, public information on the finances of one of the most crucial players in the half-Senate election, the Palmer United Party, will not be available for another 12 months.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) all relevant financial information is freely available online, 2) it can be obtained digitally within two days of requesting it, and 3) it is in a machine readable format (for example in csv or xml format).

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) information is available but in some cases is incomplete or lacking detail, 2) obtaining complete information takes up to a month, or 3) it's not necessarily digital or in machine readable format.

        A 0 score is earned where: 1) the information is not publicly available, or 2) obtaining it takes more than three months, or 3) the cost of obtaining it is prohibitive for the regular citizen.

        Sources

        1) "Periodic Disclosures" and "Election Disclosures." Australian Electoral Commission. Last updated 13th August 2014. http://periodicdisclosures.aec.gov.au/AnalysisParty.aspx

        2) Interview Zim Nworoka McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow Law School, University of Melbourne 15th September 2014

        3) Title: Christian Kerr, "Palmer United Party Finances Stay Opaque." The Australian (online), 25th February, 2014. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/politics-news/palmer-united-party-finances-stay-opaque/story-fn59nqld-1226836399743

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        28
        Score
        100
        In practice, to what extent is financial information published in a standardized format?More about indicator

        In practice, all financial information is published in a standardised format.

        Annual returns from political parties and candidate election returns are easily available on the AEC website, and each contains the level of same categories and level of detail. Whilst the returns themselves are a simple pdf scan of the original document, all financial data can be extracted in machine readable formats (XLS, CSV, XML).

        As an example, the researcher was able export a spreadsheet of the donations received by individual candidates in Western Australia in the last federal election, in his preferred format, in a matter of seconds. Simon Roger's article for the Guardian demonstrates the ease with which this standardized data can be obtained whilst simultaneously demonstrating how much the data could be worked with and potentially improved.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where financial information for all political parties and individual candidates is available to the public in a standardized format.

        A 50 score is earned where only part of the information is published in a standardized format. A 50 score is also earned where the information is standardized, but it doesn't cover all political parties and individual candidates.

        A 0 score is earned where financial information is not available in a standardized format.

        Sources

        1) "Periodic Disclosures" and "Election Disclosures." Australian Electoral Commission. Last updated 13th August 2014. http://periodicdisclosures.aec.gov.au/AnalysisParty.aspx

        2) Simon Rogers, "Australia's political donations: who gives and gets the most?" The Guardian (Australia), 28th May 2013. http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/may/28/australia-political-donations-parties

        3) Interview Zim Nworoka McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow Law School, University of Melbourne 15th September 2014

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        29
        Score
        100
        In practice, to what extent do mainstream journalism media outlets use political finance data in their reporting?More about indicator

        In practice, mainstream journalism media outlets regularly use political finance data in their reporting with examples given below. However, a number of interviewees noted that the release of all annual reports on one day in February is a data dump that is far less useful than if information was timely.

        One of the most modern and unconventional usages by a mainstream journalism media outlet is Simon Rogers' Datablog article for the Guardian Australia. This both used the data to illustrate and comment upon several scenarios and trends, as well as provided a data set for other groups to utilise.

        The publicly funded broadcaster, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, regularly uses political finance data when it is released. One example is a radio broadcast by Naomi Woodley that explores the amounts given to different parties in the lead up to the last federal election, and the lack of data in the final 2 months before polling day.

        Lisa Martin's article for 'The Australian' newspaper utilises financial data to analyse political party funding from the owners of poker machine and gambling companies.

        Finally, an editorial in 'The Age' uses political finance data to comment upon the integrity of democracy in Australia.

        However, when asked about the use of data in reporting, a mainstream journalist cited the massive data drop and not particularly user-friendly data as being a key reason why there was not more reporting on political finance data and that, at best, journalists could pluck out a few stories on the bigger donations only.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where at least three independent mainstream journalism media outlets have used officially published political party or individual candidate financial information as part of their reporting.

        A 50 score is earned where one independent mainstream journalism media outlet has used officially published financial information as part of its reporting.

        A 0 score is earned where no mainstream journalism media outlet has used officially published financial information as part of its reporting.

        Sources

        1) Simon Rogers, "Australia's political donations: who gives and gets the most?" The Guardian (Australia), 28th May 2013. http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/may/28/australia-political-donations-parties

        2) Naomi Woodely, "Big jump in political donations." ABC Radio and ABC.net.au, 3rd February, 2014. http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2013/s3936769.htm

        3) Interview: Christian Kerr Senior Reporter The Australian newspaper 9th September, 2014.

        4) Lisa Martin, "Parties hit jackpot in political donations." The Australian newspaper and theaustralian.com.au, February 3rd 2014. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/parties-hit-jackpot-in-political-donations/story-fn3dxiwe-1226817094845

        5) Editorial, "Failure to disclose political donations undermines democracy." The Age newspaper and theage.com.au, June 3rd 2014. http://www.theage.com.au/comment/smh-editorial/failure-to-disclose-political-donations-undermines-democracy-20140603-zrwls.html

        6) Interview Murray Green Media Development Adviser and Media Lawyer Independent Consultant 11th September, 2014

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        30
        Score
        75
        In practice, to what extent were there no news reports or other documented incidents of violation or abuse of political finance laws?More about indicator

        In practice, there have been no news reports or documented incidents of DIRECT violation or abuse of political finance laws at the federal level during the most recent election. However, there have been multiple news stories that have been linked to POSSIBLE violations or abuse, as below. In addition, linkages have been made between circumvention of state level reporting requirements and federal level entities, something that could well constitute abuse.

        In 2013, Mike Seccombe published in 'The Global Mail' an account of a 'missing' $500,000 donation from Paul Ramsay Holdings to federal Liberal Party via the Free Enterprise Foundation, an 'associated entity' (see AEC definition in sources) that collects funds for the Liberal Party. The donation was not shown in returns from Paul Ramsay Holdings or the Liberal Party, but did show up in the return from the Free Enterprise Foundation. This was later rectified by Paul Ramsay Holdings.

        In 2014, Nick Evershed and Paul Farrell cited the same example as well as other discrepancies in the reporting, stating "A political donation to the federal Labor party of $25,000 is in dispute, and multiple donations to the Liberal party appear not to have been declared."

        Kate Mclynon and Michaela Whitbourn reported on proceedings from the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption suggesting that federal level entities were potentially involved in the deliberate exploitation of state level political finance loopholes. This is an ongoing story as of 9th September, 2014.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where there were no news reports or other documented incidents of violation or abuse of political finance laws during the most recent national election.

        A 50 score is earned where there were news reports or other documented incidents of no more than two cases of violation or abuse of political finance laws during the most recent national election.

        A 0 score is earned where there were frequent news reports or other documented incidents of violation or abuse of political finance laws during the most recent national election.

        Sources

        1) Interview Christian Kerr Senior Reporter The Australian newspaper 9th September, 2014

        2) Mike Seccombe, "The Half-Million Dollar Cure." The Global Mail, 23rd August, 2013. http://www.theglobalmail.org/feature/the-half-million-dollar-cure/686/index.html

        3) Associated Entities. Australian Electoral Commission. Last updated 13th August 2014 http://www.aec.gov.au/partiesandrepresentatives/financial_disclosure/guides/associated-entities/index.htm

        4) Nick Evershed and Paul Farrell, "Questions raised over political donations to Labor and Liberal parties." The Guardian Australia, 11th March 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/10/political-donations-worth-75000-disputed-by-federal-labor-party

        5) Kate McClymont, Michaela Whitbourn,"ICAC hears Liberal party boss Brian Loughnane knew developer donations went through federal channels." Sydney Morning Herald, 6th August 2014. http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/icac-hears-liberal-party-boss-brian-loughnane-knew-developer-donations-went-through-federal-channels-20140806-100vlc.html#ixzz3CESRgw99

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        31
        Score
        100
        In practice, to what extent were there no news reports or other documented incidents of vote-buying?More about indicator

        There were no news reports or other documented incidents of vote-buying in relation to the last federal election.

        Media stories on what is termed 'vote-buying' in Australia is not the explicit exchange of cash or cash equivalents for votes but examples such as the vote-buying allegations from Queensland Premier Campbell Newman directed toward Clive Palmer and his Palmer United Party. Documented in an article in 'The Australian' newspaper, the allegations refer to the idea of 'buying' the support of politicians and other groups, either through political funding or backroom deals, not the votes of electors.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where there were no news reports or other documented incidents of vote-buying during the most recent national election.

        A 50 score is earned where there were news reports or other documented incidents of no more than two cases of vote-buying during the most recent national election.

        A 0 score is earned where there were frequent news reports or other documented incidents of vote-buying during the most recent national election.

        Sources

        1) Interview Christian Kerr Senior Reporter The Australian newspaper 9th September, 2014

        2) Interview Murray Green Media Development Adviser and Media Lawyer Independent Consultant 11th September, 2014

        3) Michael McKenna, "Clive Palmer rails at Campbell Newman vote-buying claim." The Australian, 29th March, 2014. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/state-politics/clive-palmer-rails-at-campbell-newman-votebuying-claim/story-e6frgczx-1226898772755

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        32
        Score
        50
        In practice, to what extent do civil society organizations use political finance data?More about indicator

        In practice, civil society organizations do not use political finance data to a great extent at the Federal level. It is reasonably frequently used by journalists, academics and political mavericks. There are however, multiple examples of State level political finance data (published by State Electoral Commissions) being used by civil society. Prominent examples are listed below.

        The Australian Shareholders Association (ASA) has used political finance data multiple times in its advocacy on corporate governance issues, as highlighted in an article by Joyce Moullakis and ASA's own press release calling for ASX listed companies to end political donations.

        In speaking with interviewees about why data is not more frequently used by these groups, several issues were noted: 1) The time lag of the data vastly reduces the public interest, thus the utility of the data 2) The Australian Electoral Commission data is not particularly suited for use by non-experts in civil society who are not likely to be conversant in this particular issue and skill-set 3) Finding the original source of the funding can be difficult. An example was given of it taking 3-4 journalists 3-4 days to discover the source of a major donation to a minor party from a group that has much at stake from policy decisions. 4) Many contentious decisions are taken at the State level, thus groups are more likely to focus on the political finance at that level.
        5) The use of 'other payments' and 'associated entities' can hide the information that civil society wants to uncover 6) The structure and traditions of Australia's strongly party-based political system means that donations to individual candidates are less important than in jurisdictions like the US, where many advocacy groups utilise political finance data. 7) In line with the growth of private funding, it is becoming more important.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where at least three civil society organizations have used officially published political party or individual candidate financial information as part of their advocacy or awareness work.

        A 50 score is earned where one civil society organization has used officially published financial information as part of its advocacy or awareness work.

        A 0 score is earned where no civil society organization has used officially published financial information as part of its work.

        Sources

        1) Interview Christian Kerr Senior Reporter The Australian newspaper 9th September, 2014

        2) Interview Murray Green Media Development Adviser and Media Lawyer Independent Consultant 11th September, 2014

        3) Joyce Moullakis, "Macbank to be queried over political donations at AGM." Sydney Morning Herald, 20th July, 2014. http://www.smh.com.au/business/macbank-to-be-queried-over-political-donations-at-agm-20140720-zv0xi.htm

        4) Stephen Mayne, Ian Curry. "ASA calls for ASX listed companies to end political donations." Australian Shareholders Association website, 2nd February, 2014. https://www.australianshareholders.com.au/node/38593

        5) Interview Zim Nworoka McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow Law School, University of Melbourne 15th September 2014

        6) Interview Senator Lee Rhiannon Senator for New South Wales, Australian Greens 17th September, 2014

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        33
        Score
        --
        Open Question: Have there been political finance legal reforms or reform bills presented to the legislature in the last 10 years?More about indicator

        There have been several political finance reform bills presented to the legislature in the last 10 years. In chronological order, they are:

        In May 2013, the then Labor Government withdrew a bill that had previously had bi-partisan support after the Opposition withdrew its support, citing public dissatisfaction with an aspect of the bill that gave the major parties administrative funding year to year, not just election funding, as is currently the case. The bill would have lowered the disclosure threshold to $5,000 (USD 4,335), not the current $12,400 (USD 11,010) (indexed annually). The bill also would have required disclosure to occur every 6 months, not every year. But no changes would have occurred regarding donation or expenditure caps.

        In 2010, the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Political Donations and Other Measures) Bill 2010 was passed through the House of Representatives but stalled during the second reading in the Senate after the Labor government did not move it forward. It expired at the end of the previous government in November 2013. The Parliament of Australia summarised the following key aspects: "Amends the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 to: reduce the disclosure threshold to $1000; require certain persons making gifts at or above the threshold to furnish returns within specified time periods; ensure that for the purposes of the disclosure threshold related political parties are treated as one entity; prohibit the receipt of a gift of foreign property and certain anonymous gifts by registered political parties, candidates and members of a Senate group; provide that public funding of election campaigning is limited to the lesser amount of either the actual electoral expenditure or the amount awarded per vote where the four per cent threshold is satisfied; include five additional categories of electoral expenditure in relation to the rental of premises, payment of additional staff, purchase and hire of office equipment, consumables and running costs for equipment and travel and accommodation; prevent sitting members of Parliament from claiming electoral expenditure if allowances, entitlements or benefits received are used to meet that expenditure; extend existing recovery powers; and introduce new offences and penalties and increase penalties for existing offences."

        In 2009, a very similar bill was introduced, the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Political Donations and Other Measures) Bill 2009. It passed through the House of Representatives and one reading in the Senate but lapsed at the end of Parliament in 28th September 2010 as the Liberal opposition and an independent refused to support it. The key features according to the Parliament website were "Amends the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 to: reduce the disclosure threshold to $1,000; require certain persons making gifts above the threshold to furnish a return within eight weeks after polling day; ensure that for the purposes of the disclosure threshold and the disclosure of gifts, related political parties are treated as one entity; prohibit the receipt of a gift of foreign property and all anonymous gifts by registered political parties, candidates and members of a Senate group; provide that public funding of election campaigning is limited to the lesser amount of either the actual electoral expenditure or the amount awarded per vote where the four percent threshold is satisfied; include five additional categories of electoral expenditure in relation to the rental of premises, payment of additional staff, purchase and hire of office equipment, consumables and running costs for equipment and travel and accommodation; prevent sitting members of Parliament from claiming electoral expenditure if allowances, entitlements or benefits received are used to meet that expenditure; extend existing recovery powers; and introduce new offences and penalties and increase penalties for existing offences."

        Many of the above aspects were prompted by a 2008 Electoral Reform Green Paper on Donations, Funding and Expenditure prepared by the Commonwealth Government under direction from John Faulkner, Special Minister of State. Arguably, this was a partial reaction to the changes introduced by the legislation below.

        In 2006, the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Electoral Integrity and Other Measures) Bill 2006 was introduced and passed both Houses of Parliament. The relevant key aspects were "financial disclosure requirements in non-election periods;" and " abolition of broadcasters and publishers returns; and the disclosure of political donations; and Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 to increase the tax deductibility value of contributions and gifts to political parties, independent candidates and members". The result was an increase of the disclosure threshold from $1,500 to $10,000 (indexed annually, now $12,400). The bill was passed by the Liberal government under John Howard, which had a majority of seats in both houses of Parliament from late 2004 to 2007 (although the election was in late 2004, the Senate numbers did not change until mid-2005, due to the Senate's fixed terms), allowing it to pass legislation as it saw fit. Sean Nicholls claims that much of the justification for key aspects of the bill came from the "...federal Parliament's Coalition-controlled Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters in 2004".


        Peer reviewer comment: Agree - In regard to disclosure thresholds, the setting of an appropriate threshold is seen as a balance between a donor's right to privacy, and disclosure in the public interest. From the introduction of party regulation in 1983, this threshold was set at $1,000, rising to $1,500 in 1991. Both limits were set by Labor governments. The Coalition has a different approach to disclosure, when compared to Labor, by valuing privacy more highly than public interest. Although donation behaviour is affected by the level of the threshold, Miskin and Baker (2006) estimated that the change would result in about a quarter of previously disclosed donations being hidden from public scrutiny.

        The differing approaches to disclosure regulation are also indicative of the different funding sources for Labor and the Coalition. Labor receives significant trade union donations, which is well known, and most of these are not hidden under the higher threshold. However, it can be expected that the Coalition, which relies heavily on a substantial support base among the business sector, would be able to fundraise more effectively with the promise of the higher level of non-disclosure.

        The Liberal/National Coalition came to power in 1996, and formed a majority on the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) from that time to 2007. The JSCEM recommended increases to the disclosure threshold from 1996 (to $5,000), but it was not until after the Coalition gained a majority in the Senate that it could amend the legislation (in 2006). Although Labor returned to power from 2007 to 2013, it never had sufficient numbers in the Senate to revert the threshold to the previous lower amount.

        Scoring Criteria

        Please list and describe all documented instances of: 1) political finance reforms, including bills passed, executive orders signed, court rulings and any other legal act that had a direct effect on existent political finance regulation, and 2) all legal reform attempts presented to the legislature even if they were not approved. Please describe the political context that produced the reforms or reform attempts.

        Sources

        1) Interview Christian Kerr Senior Reporter The Australian newspaper 9th September, 2014

        2) Tony Abbott, "Letter from the Leader of the Opposition." 24th May, 2013, accessed on 9th September, 2014. http://images.smh.com.au/file/2013/05/30/4449322/Abbotletter.pdf?rand=1369873051875

        3) Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Political Donations and Other Measures) Bill 2010. 2010. http://www.aph.gov.au/ParliamentaryBusiness/BillsLegislation/BillsSearchResults/Result?bId=r4477

        4) Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Political Donations and Other Measures) Bill 2009. 2009. http://www.aph.gov.au/ParliamentaryBusiness/BillsLegislation/BillsSearchResults/Result?bId=r4073

        5) Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Electoral Integrity and Other Measures) Bill 2006. 2006. http://www.aph.gov.au/ParliamentaryBusiness/BillsLegislation/BillsSearchResults/Result?bId=r2484

        6) Sean Nicholls, "ICAC shows why Howard-era donations changes must be reversed." Syndey Morning Herald, August 9, 2014. hhttp://www.smh.com.au/comment/icac-shows-why-howardera-donations-changes-must-be-reversed-20140807-1019xm.html

        Reviewer's sources: Miskin, S. and G. Baker. 2006. Political Finance Disclosure under Current and Proposed Thresholds. Research Note 27, 2005–06. Canberra: Parliamentary Library, Parliament of Australia

        Kelly, N. 2012. Directions in Australian Electoral Reform: Professionalism and Partisanship in Electoral Management. ANU E Press: Canberra, p.107

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    Third Party Actors

    More about category
    composite
    50
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      Applicability of the Law to Third-Party Actors
      More about category
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        34
        Score
        MODERATE
        In law, third-party actors (foundations, think tanks, unions, political action committees, etc.) report itemized contributions received and expenditures to an oversight authority and the information is made publicly available.More about indicator

        Subject to important caveats, in law, third-party actors do report itemised contributions received and aggregate expenditures to an oversight authority and the information is made publicly available. This includes independent expenditures during campaigns.

        The caveats are as follows: - Only contributions are itemised, and even then, only for contributions over $12,400 (USD 11,010), or over a total of $12,400 from the same donor. - Expenditures are not itemised, instead the expenditure is aggregated within each category of the 5 categories of disclosable political expenditure. Categories outlined below. - There is a large time lag for public availability. Third parties are required to complete annual returns within 20 weeks of the end of the financial year (31st June). In February of the following year, these figures are released by the Australian Electoral Commission at the same time as much of the political finance data.

        The 5 categories of disclosable political expenditure are: ? public expression of views on a political party, candidate in an election or member of the Commonwealth Parliament by any means, ? public expression of views on an issue in an election by any means, ? printing, production, publication, or distribution of any material that is required under s3281, s328A2 or s328B3 of the Act to include a name, address or place of business, ? broadcast of political matter in relation to which particulars are required to be announced under subclause 4(2) of Schedule 2 to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, ? opinion polling and other research relating to an election or the voting intentions of electors.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) third-party actors are required to report to the oversight authority itemized contributions received and expenditures related to their support of electoral campaigns, and 2) the information must be publicly available.

        A MODERATE score is earned where third-party actors are required to report itemized contributions received and expenditures related to their support of electoral campaigns, but the information is not required to be publicly available. A MODERATE score is also earned where regulations exist, but only apply to electoral campaigns of one actor (whether political party or individual candidate).

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        1) "Financial Disclosure Guide for Third Parties incurring Political Expenditure" Australian Electoral Commission Australian Electoral Commission website Published 01 July 2014 http://www.aec.gov.au/partiesandrepresentatives/financial_disclosure/guides/third-parties/index.htm

        2) Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (The Act), Part XX, Sections 314. 1918. Link: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00616

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        35
        Score
        50
        In practice, to what extent do third-party actors (foundations, think tanks, unions, political action committees, etc.) report itemized contributions received and expenditures to an oversight authority?More about indicator

        Subject to the caveats of the reporting requirements for third-party actors (only contributions above $12,400 itemised, expenditures aggregated in each of 5 disclosable categories), third-party actors do report itemised contributions received and and aggregate expenditures to the Australian Electoral Commission as an oversight authority.

        The Australian Electoral Commission website lists the 45 annual returns received in the 2012/13 financial year, mainly from unions but also corporations, industry groups and political groups such as 'Getup'. These returns were submitted within 20 weeks of the conclusion of the financial year (July). The list of returns covering the election period in September 2013 (2013/14 financial year) will not be released until February 2015.

        There is little be gained by a third-party actor in not submitting a return (there are much easier avenues to have influence without public identification), so the rate of returns is quite high.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where all third-party actors report to an oversight authority both itemized contributions received and itemized expenditures.

        A 50 score is earned where third-party actors report to an oversight authority either itemized contributions received or expenditures, but not both. A 50 score is also earned where the reports refer only to one type of third-party actor, but do not cover others.

        A 0 score is earned where third-party actors rarely or never report itemized contributions received or expenditures.

        Sources

        1) Interview Iain McMenamin Associate Professor School of Law and Government, Dublin City University Interviewed 12th September 2014

        2) "Political Expenditure Returns 2012/13." Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). Uploaded 3rd February, 2014. Last updated 13th August, 2014. http://periodicdisclosures.aec.gov.au/PoliticalExpenditureSearch.aspx"

        3) Interview Zim Nworoka McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow Law School, University of Melbourne 15th September 2014

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        36
        Score
        50
        In practice, to what extent can journalists and citizens easily access the financial information of third party actors, including the political spending of those actors in support of political parties and individual candidates?More about indicator

        Subject to certain caveats, journalists and citizens can easily access the financial information of third party actors, including the political spending of those actors in support of political parties and individual candidates.

        The caveats are: - The data is not timely. The political spending of third-party actors is reported annually, 20 weeks after the end of the financial year, and released some 7 months later. As an example, third-party political expenditure returns from the 2013 Federal election still have not been released and will not be until February 2015, some 16 months after the election. - Expenditure is aggregated under each of the 5 categories of disclosable political expenditure, not itemised. - Contributions are only itemised above the $12,400 disclosure threshold.

        The information is available on the Australian Electoral Commission website in machine readable formats.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) all relevant financial information is freely available online or in hard copy at the cost of photocopying, 2) it can be obtained within two days of requesting it, and 3) it is in a machine readable format (for example in csv or xml format).

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) information is available but in some cases is incomplete or lacking detail, 2) obtaining complete information takes up to a month, or 3) it's not necessarily in machine readable format.

        A 0 score is earned where: 1) the information is not publicly available, or 2) obtaining it takes more than three months, or 3) the cost of obtaining it is prohibitive for the regular citizen.

        Sources

        1) Interview Graeme Orr Professor, Law University of Queensland 29th August, 2014

        2) "Political Expenditure Returns 2012/13." Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). Last updated 13th August, 2014. http://periodicdisclosures.aec.gov.au/PoliticalExpenditureSearch.aspx"

        3) Interview Zim Nworoka McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow Law School, University of Melbourne 15th September 2014

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        37
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        Open Question: Please describe how third party-actors (even if they are not regulated by your country's laws) obtain contributions and spend in support of political parties and/or individual candidates.More about indicator

        Third-party actors: As defined by the Australian Electoral Commission, "Third parties are people or organisations (other than registered political parties, candidates and Federal government agencies) who incur political expenditure as defined in the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Act). Political expenditure is expenditure incurred by a person or organisation, or with their authority, on: - public expression of views on a political party, candidate in an election or member of the Commonwealth Parliament by any means, - public expression of views on an issue in an election by any means, - printing, production, publication, or distribution of any material that is required under s328, s328A or s328B of the Act to include a name, address or place of business, broadcast of political matter in relation to which particulars are required to be announced under sub-clause 4(2) of schedule 2 to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. - opinion polling and other research relating to an election or the voting intention of electors. Other expenditure (for example, on administration or travel) is not political expenditure for reporting purposes." It should be noted that third-party actors are distinct from 'associated entities' which are essentially fundraising vehicles controlled by political parties. However, with a lack of transparency around 'associated entities' an interviewee suggested that we don't really know what they are doing and if they are in fact acting like third party actors.

        Types: third-party actors that incurred political expenditure in 2012/13 (the most recent financial year with available data) are: unions; industry bodies such as the Minerals Council of Australia and Universities Australia; peak bodies such as the Australian Automobile Association; activist groups or institutes, such as 'Getup' and the 'Climate Institute' and NGO's such as Greenpeace. It should be noted that the 2012/13 figures are not from an election year as the Federal election took place in September 2013. Graeme Orr and Ian Ward note that "Of “third-party” or civil society groups that declared over $2 million in “political expenditure” between 2006-7 and 2010-11, five were union groups, six were business entities and two were “progressive” organisations, such as environmental groups and the activist organisation GetUp!"

        Fundraising: Third-party actors tend to have existing funds from members, such as in the case of unions and industry associations, and do not specifically fundraise for election contributions. Notable exceptions include Getup in fundraising for the 2013 election and specific campaigns by unions, such as the 'Workchoices' campaign run in 2007 and 2010.

        According to commentators, third-party actors play a varying, moderate role in elections but this is essentially just conjecture. The 2012/13 financial year finished 9-10 weeks before the election campaign took place. During 2012/13, a total of $23.17 million was spent by third-party actors on the 5 categories of disclosable political expenditure. Unfortunately, the figures for 2013/14 year will not be published by the AEC until February 2015. In addition, according to Graeme Orr and Ian Ward "There are no official figures for national election spending. This is a flaw in our disclosure system. Parties and media insiders make educated guesses by monitoring broadcast advertising, but these don’t capture parties’ opinion polling and the “ground-game”.

        To date, there are no credible reports of circumvention or violation of third party laws. If an actor wanted to influence an election without being identified, there are easier avenues with the Australian political finance framework.

        Scoring Criteria

        To answer this question please: 1) list the types of third-party actors that exist in your country and describe how they work to influence campaigns, 2) explain how important such actors are or not in the context of campaigns, including whether their expenditures are substantial in relation to that of political parties and individual candidates, and 3) if documented evidence indicates they circumvent laws intended to regulate political finance, please explain how and include references to the evidence.

        Sources

        1) "Third Parties incurring Political Expenditure," Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). September 2014. http://www.aec.gov.au/partiesandrepresentatives/financial_disclosure/guides/third-parties/index.htm

        2) "Be heard this election year," Getup website. 2013. https://www.getup.org.au/campaigns/core-member-generous/2013/be-heard-this-election-year

        3) Interview Senator Lee Rhiannon Senator for New South Wales, Australian Greens 17th September, 2014

        4) "Summary of Political Expenditure Returns - 2012-13." Australian Electoral Commission. http://periodicdisclosures.aec.gov.au/SummaryPoliticalExpenditure.aspx (Exported Excel version with totals, attached)

        5) Graeme Orr and Ian Ward, "Factcheck: does Labor massively outspend the coalition during election campaigns?" The Conversation. 26th August 2013. http://theconversation.com/factcheck-does-labor-massively-outspend-the-coalition-during-election-campaigns-17363

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    Monitoring and Enforcement

    More about category
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      Monitoring Capabilities
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        YES
        In law, political finance information is monitored by an independent oversight authority.More about indicator

        The Commonwealth Electoral Act provides for the functions and powers of the Australian Electoral Commission and although it does not overtly state its function as an independent oversight body for political finance, it has the ability to perform such other functions as are conferred on it by or under any law of the Commonwealth. As part of this role, under section 316, are investigatory and audit powers.

        In addition, Sections 81, 83 and 87 of the Australian Constitution, create a regime for Parliament to exercise control over and require accountability of the Executive Governments' spending. The Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 broadly defines objects in which one is to require Commonwealth and Commonwealth entities to use and manage public resources properly.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) an independent oversight authority is mandated to monitor political finance information, and 2) the authority has investigation and audit powers.

        A MODERATE score is earned where the independent oversight authority is mandated to monitor political finance information, but doesn't have investigation or audit powers.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        1) Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (The Act), Section 7(b) and Section 316. 1918. Link: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00616

        2) Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, Section 5 (c) (ii). 2013 http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00317

        3) Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, Chapter IV, Section 81, 83 and 97. 2010. http://www.aph.gov.au/AboutParliament/Senate/Powerspracticenprocedures/~/media/AC79BBA0B87A4906A6D71ACCEEF10535.ashx

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        MODERATE
        In law, high-level appointments to the oversight authority are based on merit.More about indicator

        The Electoral Commission is comprised of the Chairperson, Electoral Commissioner and one other member. According to section 6 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, high-level appointments to the Australian Electoral Commission are based on merit, with individuals appointed to the Commission requiring certain qualifications. The Chairperson must be an ex-judge of over three years and the Commissioner must have held a high level role in government, e.g. Agency Head or equivalent. Both positions are ultimately appointed by the Governor General of Australia with the Chairperson being selected from a list of 3 suitable candidates provided by the Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia. Section 11 of the Act states that members of the commission must not be involved in decision making on any matter in which they have an interest, including pecuniary interests, and that this is in addition to section 29 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, which also deals with duties to disclose interests.

        However, there is no legal requirement specifying that appointees must be free of conflicts of interest upon appointment.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) high-level appointments must be based on merit in a public appointment process; and 2) appointees must be free of conflicts of interest due to personal loyalties, family connections, political party affiliations, business partners or other biases.

        A MODERATE score is earned where high-level appointments must be based on merit in a public appointment process, but the regulations don't forbid appointments involving conflicts of interest or other biases.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        1) Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, Section 6 (3), (4) and (5). 1918. http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00616

        2) Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, Chapter II. 2010. http://www.aph.gov.au/AboutParliament/Senate/Powerspracticenprocedures/~/media/AC79BBA0B87A4906A6D71ACCEEF10535.ashx

        3) Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act, Section 29. 2013. http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2013A00123

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        75
        In practice, to what extent are high-level appointments to the oversight authority based on merit?More about indicator

        High-level appointments to the Australian Electoral Commission are based on merit, with individuals selected to the Commission requiring certain qualifications. Pursuant to the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, the Chairperson must be an ex-judge of over three years and the Commissioner must have held a high level role in government, e.g. Agency Head or equivalent. Both positions are ultimately appointed by the Governor General of Australia with the Chairperson being selected from a list of 3 suitable candidates provided by the Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia.

        To date, there are no public or mainstream reports calling in to question the merits of those appointed to the Commission. One case where the merits of appointees were under close scrutiny took place at the 2013 Federal election. 1370 Senate votes were lost in Western Australia, causing a re-run of the Senate election in that state. Ultimately, the Australian Electoral Commissioner Ed Killesteyn resigned but although many other matters of the case were criticised, his qualifications for the role were not called in to question.

        However, it should be noted that commentators have cited anonymous criticism in academic studies of Ed Killesteyn's lack of experience in electoral matters, despite a long career in other areas of the public service, including as an Agency Head.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) there is an advertised competition and public vetting process, 2) candidates with the most merit and without conflicts of interest or other biases are appointed.

        A 50 score is earned where the public competition is usually advertised and the vetting process public, but exceptions exist. A 50 score is also earned where candidates with the most merit and without conflicts of interest or other biases are appointed but exceptions exist.

        A 0 score is earned where there's rarely or never a public competition, or appointees are rarely selected on merit or without conflicts of interest or other biases.

        Sources

        1) Interview Graeme Orr Professor, Law University of Queensland 29th August, 2014

        2) Interview Zim Nworoka McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow Law School, University of Melbourne 15th September 2014

        3) Michelle Grattan, "Electoral Commissioner quits after WA vote debacle." The Conversation, 21st February 2014. http://theconversation.com/electoral-commissioner-quits-after-wa-vote-debacle-23529

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        YES
        In law, the independence of high-level appointees is guaranteed.More about indicator

        The Australian Electoral Commission consists of "...a Chairperson; the Electoral Commissioner; and one other member.", as well as the following officials of the commission "...the Deputy Electoral Commissioner; the Australian Electoral Officer for a State or Territory; the staff of the Commission..." The Commission’s Chairperson and Commissioner are appointed by the Governor General who themselves are appointed with bi-partisan support, offering some partial guarantee of independence. This is further reinforced by the fact the appointee must come from a list of 3 offered by the Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia.

        Amongst the "Functions and Powers of Commission" are several broad categories, including "(e) to conduct and promote research into electoral matters and other matters that relate to its functions;" and "(g) to perform such other functions as are conferred on it by or under any law of the Commonwealth." This provides further assurance of independence of investigations.

        Sections 8 and 12 of the Act outline tenure and the limited grounds for dismissal by the Governor General. However, the mechanism for dismissal is not elaborated upon.


        Peer reviewer comment: Agree. The CEA 1918 gives Commission members clear powers in relation to the administration of elections and redistribution of electoral boundaries, which cannot be interfered with. Act Section 21 of the CEA 1918 provides for appointments 'not exceeding' 7 years. Typically, Electoral Commissioner appointments are for 5 years, and once appointed, the Act provides clear reasons for termination (section 25). Although the Act does not specify processes for disiplinary actions, other Commonwealth legislation deals with such matters, for example, the Public Service Act 1999. It can be said that, once appointments are made, independence can be guaranteed, but there is no protection against partisan appointments (however, this has not occurred). The situation meets the criteria for a YES score.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) appointees have the authority or mandate to review cases and issue decisions, 2) the law establishes security of tenure, and 3) removal or disciplinary actions are based on due process conducted by a peer panel or independent oversight body.

        A MODERATE score is earned where appointees have the authority or mandate to review cases and issue decisions, BUT one of the second two conditions mentioned in the YES criteria is not met.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        1) Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, Division 2, Section 6, 9, 19-29. 1918. http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00616

        Reviewer's sources: Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00616

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        100
        In practice, to what extent is the independence of high-level appointees guaranteed?More about indicator

        In practice, the only guarantee of independence of high-level appointees is the extent to which the process of appointment as prescribed by law is followed. To date, no reports exist of any substantial departure from this process, nor are there reports that appointees have not enjoyed security of tenure. There are no recent cases of removal or disciplinary action.

        As appointees, the Commission’s Chairperson and Commissioner could theoretically produce non-independent or partisan positions. However, since the Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia provides a shortlist of 3 candidates for the Chairperson's position and the actual appointment is conducted by the Governor-General (a position which itself requires bi-partisan support) the possibility of a non-independent appointee is vastly reduced. However, this has not prevented some debate on why the national appointment process doesn't require parliamentary consultation, opposition approval or vote.

        One case where the independence of appointees were under close scrutiny took place at the 2013 Federal election. 1370 Senate votes were lost in Western Australia, causing a re-run of the Senate election in that state. Ultimately, the Australian Electoral Commissioner Ed Killesteyn resigned but although many other matters of the case were criticised, his independence was not called in to question.

        Further assuring independence, appointees are provided with security of tenure and the limited grounds for dismissal by the Governor General are specifically listed in legislation. However, the mechanism for dismissal is not elaborated upon.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where all of the following conditions are met: 1) appointees review cases and issue decisions without fear or favor from other branches of government, and 2) appointees are granted security of tenure and 3) no appointees are removed, disciplined or transferred without due process by a peer panel or independent oversight body.

        A 50 score is earned where any of the following conditions apply: 1) appointees generally operate without fear or favor from other branches of government but exceptions exist, or 2) some but not all appointees are granted security of tenure, or 3) appointees are occasionally removed, disciplined or transferred without due process by a peer panel or independent oversight body.

        A 0 score is earned where at least one of the following conditions apply: 1) appointees operate with fear or favor from other branches of government, or 2) are not granted security of tenure, or 3) are usually removed, disciplined or transferred without observing due process by a peer panel or independent oversight body.

        Sources

        1) Interview Graeme Orr Professor, Law University of Queensland 29th August, 2014

        2) Interview Zim Nworoka McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow Law School, University of Melbourne 15th September 2014

        3) Michelle Grattan, "Electoral Commissioner quits after WA vote debacle." The Conversation, 21st February 2014. http://theconversation.com/electoral-commissioner-quits-after-wa-vote-debacle-23529

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        Open Question: How does decision-making work in the oversight authority?More about indicator

        The AEC has a three-person Commission comprising of a Chairperson, who must be an active or retired judge of the Federal Court of Australia, the Electoral Commissioner and a non-judicial member. The Electoral Commissioner is responsible for management and strategic leadership of the AEC. The Deputy Electoral Commissioner and two First Assistant Commissioners assist him. To provide further public insight in to decision making, strategic 5 year plans are published.

        The leadership structure and organisational structure of the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is easily sourced from its website and is attached to this indicator. However, the delegation of authority and decision making to personnel within the AEC is not made public so it is difficult to make informed comment on decision making processes. With regards to disputed returns, legislation designates one of the courts of Australia to act as the court of disputed returns.

        There have been no credible reports of the decision making process being politicised. A case of 1370 missing votes in the 2013 Federal election resulted in close scrutiny of the AEC's functions and the resignation of the Australian Electoral Commissioner, yet politicisation was not mentioned as a factor.


        Peer reviewer comment: Agree - A particular area where the AEC can be seen to be working independently is in the determination of electoral boundaries. Part IV of the CEA 1918 provides a detailed process of when redistributions are to be determined (s.59) and the composition of redistribution committees (s.60 - the AEC has two of the four positions on the committee). The committee is required to publish the reasons for its decisions, the public, including political parties, are able to lodge objections to proposed redistributions, however the committee's final decision cannot be over-ruled (s.77). Information on the redistribution process, including reports on decisions, can be found on the AEC website.

        Scoring Criteria

        Please describe: 1) the composition of the decision-making body within the oversight authority, 2) the type of decisions it's allowed to make and makes in practice, and 3) in which cases majority is required. If there have been well substantiated complaints about the decision-making process being ineffective or politicized please explain.

        Sources

        1) Interview Zim Nworoka McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow Law School, University of Melbourne 15th September 2014

        2) "Australian Electoral Commission Organisational Chart." Australian Electoral Commission, 3rd September, 2014. http://aec.gov.au/About_AEC/files/aec-org-chart.pdf

        3) Michelle Grattan, "Electoral Commissioner quits after WA vote debacle." The Conversation, 21st February 2014. http://theconversation.com/electoral-commissioner-quits-after-wa-vote-debacle-23529

        Reviewer's sources: Australian Electoral Commission, "Redistributions," 2014. http://aec.gov.au/Electorates/Redistributions/index.htm

        Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00616

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        100
        In practice, to what extent does the authority have sufficient capacity to monitor political finance regulations?More about indicator

        The Australian Electoral Commission does have the capacity to monitor and review all incoming financial reports--its staff and budget are sufficient in that regard. Indeed, positive evidence of capacity can be found in the "Election Funding and Disclosure Report - Federal Election 2013" where the AEC cites its methods of "early notification and follow-up approach" and "prompt follow up with agents... who fail to lodge by the due date" and an increased rate of compliance. This is supported by data, indicating that the AEC has a very firm grasp of the number and content of returns filed under the regulations.

        Evidence of the AEC's ability to monitor all incoming returns is also strengthened by recent cases such as the AEC requiring an amendment to the returns of both the Federal Liberal Party and a donor to the Free Enterprise Foundation (an 'associated entity' of the Federal Liberal Party), Paul Ramsay Holdings. Receipt of the $500,000 donation was not declared by the Federal Liberal Party and the donation was not initially recorded by Paul Ramsay Holdings. But the Free Enterprise Foundations did state its receipt and payment of said amount as an 'associated entity', creating an anomaly that AEC staff then pursued. In coordination with staff from Paul Ramsay Holdings and the Federal Liberal Party, amended returns were prepared. However, one could argue that a $500,000 anomaly could have been subject to a stronger response than a mere request for amended returns.

        However, In assessing the capacity of AEC to meaningfully monitor political finance regulations, interviewees were not willing to state that there was sufficient capacity, as there are several question marks over pro-activeness, intelligence gathering and investigative capacity.

        In assessing AEC monitoring capacity, the low rate of prosecutions (currently the AEC cannot issue administrative penalties) is sometimes cited. Arguably however, this is because the penalties are correspondingly low - ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 for most offences. These penalties were set in 1983 and, unlike the disclosure threshold, have not been indexed. The relatively minor penalties are said to send a signal to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) that the breaches of law are not significant, so the chances of cases being selected for prosecution are not high.

        Finally, it should be noted that whilst the capacity for current monitoring activities could be adequate, the debate over the scope of these activities is still live. When questioning compliance levels, Jacqueline Ning says this is "perhaps because the AEC is seen to lack teeth." and "There have been next to no prosecutions by the AEC in over a decade," and that "One explanation may be a lack of resources, with the AEC largely occupied in its role as election administrator, rather than political finance regulator."

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) the authority has sufficient budget to monitor all incoming reports, and 2) it has sufficient staff to review all incoming reports.

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) the authority has insufficient budget to monitor all incoming reports, or 2) its staff can only review half of all incoming reports.

        A 0 score is earned where: 1) the authority can't fulfill most of its essential functions due to budget constraints, or 2) its staff only has the capacity to review 25% or less of all incoming reports.

        Sources

        1) Mike Seccombe, "The half-million dollar cure." The Global Mail, 23rd August, 2013. http://www.theglobalmail.org/feature/the-half-million-dollar-cure/686/

        2) Interview Senator Lee Rhiannon Senator for New South Wales, Australian Greens 17th September, 2014.

        3) Interview Dr A J Brown Professor of Public Policy & Law Program Leader, Public Integrity & Anti-Corruption Centre for Governance & Public Policy, Griffith University 22nd September, 2014.

        4) "Election Funding and Disclosure Report." Australian Electoral Commission, April 2014. http://www.aec.gov.au/AboutAEC/Publications/ReportsOnFederalElectoral_Events/2013/fad/files/funding-disclosure-2013.pdf

        5) Interview Zim Nworoka McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow Law School, University of Melbourne 15th September 2014

        5) Jacqueline Ning, "Money, politics and the campaign arms race: corporates outspend citizens." Crikey. 21st August, 2013. http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/08/21/money-politics-and-the-campaign-arms-race-corporates-outspend-citizens/?wpmp_switcher=mobile

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        100
        In practice, to what extent does the authority conduct investigations or audits when necessary?More about indicator

        The Australian Electoral Authority regularly conducts investigations during the election period. The "Election Funding and Disclosure Report" outlines the investigations undertaken since the last such report on 1st July, 2011. 104 investigations were undertaken in this period, of which 33 have occurred from July 2013 to June 2014, inclusive. 54% of returns required an amendment and under the AEC's policy of supporting those that are deemed to have made non-deliberate errors, the relevant persons were contacted about the returns.

        However, it should be noted that the scope of the AEC's regulatory activities and investigations is still a live debate. While it seems that they have sufficient resources for current activities, some believe they should have an expanded role.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where the authority conducted at least three investigations or audits during the most recent electoral campaign.

        A 50 score is earned where the authority conducted at least one investigation or audit during the most recent electoral campaign.

        A 0 score is earned where the authority didn't conduct any investigation or audit during the most recent electoral campaign.

        Sources

        1) "Election Funding and Disclosure Report." Australian Electoral Commission, April 2014. http://www.aec.gov.au/AboutAEC/Publications/ReportsOnFederalElectoral_Events/2013/fad/files/funding-disclosure-2013.pdf

        2) Mike Seccombe, "The half-million dollar cure." The Global Mail, 23rd August, 2013. http://www.theglobalmail.org/feature/the-half-million-dollar-cure/686/

        3) Interview Zim Nworoka McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow Law School, University of Melbourne 15th September 2014

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        0
        In practice, to what extent does the authority publish the results of investigations or audits?More about indicator

        The Australian Electoral Commission publishes the summarised results of some investigations, but not all and certainly not within a month of their conclusions. In addition, the AEC does not publish legal advice that could assist parties and candidates in complying with the law in future instances.

        Normal investigations are conducted under s.316 of the Electoral Act, and the AEC may issue a report to the person on whom the notice was issued containing its opinion, for the purpose of assisting them to comply. But this report is issued at the AEC's discretion.

        After every Federal election, as part of the "Election Funding and Disclosure Report" these investigations are listed, including whether amendments were needed and in which area of the error existed: Total Receipts; Total Payments; Total Debts; Detailed Receipts; Detailed Debts. This post-election report will list investigations that have been completed between 1 and 36 months.

        Special investigations are conducted under section 316(3) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Act) and are published in a summarised format on the AEC website. It is difficult to tell exactly the date when investigations were concluded, but from the limited examples available online (17 over the last 7 years), it seems that most are published between 3 and 6 months after the conclusion of the investigation.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where the authority publishes reports of all its investigations or audits a month or less after their conclusion.

        A 50 score is earned where reports are available to the public more than a month after the conclusion of the investigation or audit.

        A 0 score is earned where reports are not available to the public or they become available after six months or more after conclusion of the investigation or audit. A 0 score is also earned where only summaries of the reports are publicly available.

        Sources

        1) "Election Funding and Disclosure Report." Australian Electoral Commission, April 2014. http://www.aec.gov.au/AboutAEC/Publications/ReportsOnFederalElectoral_Events/2013/fad/files/funding-disclosure-2013.pdf

        2) Interview Graeme Orr Professor, Law University of Queensland 29th August, 2014

        3) "Special investigations." Australian Electoral Commission, Update 18th July 2012 - accessed 16th September, 2014. http://www.aec.gov.au/PartiesandRepresentatives/compliance/special-investigations.htm

        4) "Compliance Investigations," Australian Electoral Commission. Updated 21st August 2014 - accessed 16th September, 2014. http://www.aec.gov.au/PartiesandRepresentatives/compliance/index.htm

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      Enforcement Capabilities
      More about category
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        47
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        YES
        In law, there are sanctions in response to political finance violations.More about indicator

        Section 315 of the Act is clear in outlining the offences and penalties. As an example, the first offence and penalty is listed below.

        "315 Offences (1) Where a person fails to furnish a return that the person is required to furnish under Division 4, 5 or 5A within the time required by this Part, the person is guilty of an offence punishable, upon conviction, by a fine not exceeding: (a) in the case of a return required to be furnished by the agent of a political party or of a State branch of a political party—$5,000; or (b) in any other case—$1,000."

        Other offences continue in the same manner and Section 384 provides further information on the prosecution of offences.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) the law clearly defines violations of political finance laws, and 2) there are clearly defined sanctions for specific violations.

        A MODERATE score is earned where violations are clearly defined but sanctions for specific violations are not.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        1) Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, Section 315, 384. 1918. Link: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00616

        2) Criminal Code Act 1995, Section 6.1. 1995. Link: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00196

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        NO
        In law, the oversight authority has the power to impose sanctions.More about indicator

        An authorized officer of the Electoral Commission, with the written support of the Electoral Commissioner, has powers of investigation relating to a contravention of section 315 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. Offences against Part XX of the Electoral Act are all criminal offences. But as the AEC does not have authority to impose sanctions itself, a brief must be compiled and then referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions which then undertakes an assessment to determine whether there is sufficient evidence and public interest to prosecute. However, this has not occurred for at least 7 years.


        Peer reviewer comment: Agree. In addition, the AEC is bound by the 'Legal Services Directions 2005 and must comply with instructions given by the Attorney-General about the handling of claims or the conduct of litigation.'

        Although in practice this power may be unlikely to be used, as the Attorney-General is always from the major governing party, this potentially allows for a politically-motivated decision to occur.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) the oversight authority has the power to impose sanctions, and 2) it can directly prosecute violators before the courts or is independent to send cases to public prosecution.

        A MODERATE score is earned where the oversight authority has the power to impose sanctions, but it can't directly prosecute violators before the courts or is not independent to send cases to public prosecution.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        1)Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, Section 316. 1918. Link: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00616

        2) Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, last updated September, 2014. Link: http://www.cdpp.gov.au/publications/prosecution-policy-of-the-commonwealth/

        Reviewer's sources: Electoral Reform Green Paper: Strengthening Australia's Democracy, 2009, p.79. (www.dpmc.gov.au/.../elect.../strengtheningaustraliasdemocracy.rtf).

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        50
        In practice, to what extent do offenders comply with sanctions imposed?More about indicator

        From 2007 to now, there have been no prosecutions prompted by the AEC, who instead prefer to work with party agents and financial controllers to lodge amended returns in cases of errors. This includes cases where a strong argument could be made for meriting prosecutions or sanctions, such as that highlighted by Mike Seccombe in his article about a $500,000 donation that was not reported by either the donor or the recipient party. The AEC became aware of the discrepancy due to a declaration by an associated entity which acted as a 'middle-man' for the donation. Without investigation reports being publicily released, it's impossible to say whether other cases like this exist. But of the returns subject to investigation (compliance reviews), some 54% required amendments. In addition, it should be noted that the AEC cannot issue administrative penalties, thus it is not possible to comment on the compliance rate of sanctioned individuals.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) offenders comply with the sanctions imposed without exception, and 2) they are not repeat offenders.

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) offenders usually comply with the sanctions imposed but exceptions exist, or 2) most are not repeat offenders but some exceptions exist.

        A 0 score is earned where: 1) offenders rarely comply with the sanctions imposed, or 2) most are repeat offenders.

        Sources

        1) Jacqueline Ning, "Money, politics and the campaign arms race: corporates outspend citizens." Crikey. 21st August, 2013. http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/08/21/money-politics-and-the-campaign-arms-race-corporates-outspend-citizens/?wpmp_switcher=mobile

        2) "Election Funding and Disclosure Report." Australian Electoral Commission, April 2014. http://www.aec.gov.au/AboutAEC/Publications/ReportsOnFederalElectoral_Events/2013/fad/files/funding-disclosure-2013.pdf

        3) Interview Senator Lee Rhiannon Senator for New South Wales, Australian Greens 17th September, 2014

        4) Mike Seccombe, "The half-million dollar cure." The Global Mail, 23rd August, 2013. http://www.theglobalmail.org/feature/the-half-million-dollar-cure/686/

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        Open Question: How strong is enforcement, and what impedes more effective enforcement?More about indicator

        Enforcement could not be considered to be strong, as the AEC has not prosecuted anyone in the last 7 years. The AEC also cannot issue administrative penalties so 'enforcement' has been limited to working with party agents and financial controllers to amend financial returns. According to the "Election Funding and Disclosure Report", this occurred some 50 times between 1 July 2011 and 1 April 2014, with all 50 cases being resolved with amended returns. In addition, the 2013 "Election Funding and Disclosure Report" lists persons who have not furnished returns but does not list any action taken or sanctions imposed.

        There are several factors that commentators claim could be contributing to this weak enforcement. A good description is given by Jacqueline Ning "With such easy loopholes, it’s a wonder why any of the entities reporting to the AEC (political parties, associated entities, third parties and donors) would break any of its few existing rules. Nevertheless, compliance with the electoral authority is often lacking, perhaps because the AEC is seen to lack teeth. There have been next to no prosecutions by the AEC in over a decade, though there have been numerous reporting breaches in that time (such as 17 political parties that failed to lodge a disclosure return by the 2008 deadline). One explanation may be a lack of resources, with the AEC largely occupied in its role as election administrator, rather than political finance regulator."

        Although not solely associated with enforcement aspects, a recent news article in 'The Australian' newspaper highlights that there are several factors contributing to weak enforcement, one of which is the structure and scope of the AEC's activities. Included in this is perhaps passing the enforcement role to another body as the AEC currently has to compile a brief for the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions if it wishes for any offences to be prosecuted.

        The inability of the AEC to impose administrative penalties has also been cited as an issue for enforcement.


        Peer reviewer comment: Although the AEC is an independent statutory authority, it remains reliant on the government for budgetary allocations, and there is an understandably close relationship between the AEC and the office of the responsible Minister (the Special Minister of State). In addition, the AEC regularly briefs the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, and therefore develops a familiarity with the major parliamentary parties, and their positions. This closeness can make it difficult to then take action against parties that control the AEC's budgets, and makes senior appointments.

        In the area of political finance, disclosure thresholds are one area where the legislation is controlled by partisan positions, therefore dominating over international best-practice and any independent determination of a reasonable threshold level. Because of the AEC's relationship with government, it is difficult for the Commission to advocate a strong position, as it is responsible for administering whatever law is in place. The major areas in need of political finance reform are reduced disclosure thresholds, and the removal of loopholes such as being able to donate to separate state divisions of the party anonymously, even though the collective amount may be over the threshold; the introduction of expenditurte and/or donation caps so that public funding can be more effective; and the ability for the AEC to impose sanctions for non-compliance.

        Scoring Criteria

        Please provide a general explanation of the effectiveness of enforcement, describing: 1) any conditions that may prevent effective enforcement, and 2) explain what are the most urgent areas of reform in the country's political finance system.

        Sources

        1) Jacqueline Ning, "Money, politics and the campaign arms race: corporates outspend citizens." Crikey. 21st August, 2013. http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/08/21/money-politics-and-the-campaign-arms-race-corporates-outspend-citizens/?wpmp_switcher=mobile

        2) Interview Senator Lee Rhiannon Senator for New South Wales, Australian Greens 17th September 2014

        3) "Election Funding and Disclosure Report." Australian Electoral Commission, April 2014. http://www.aec.gov.au/AboutAEC/Publications/ReportsOnFederalElectoral_Events/2013/fad/files/funding-disclosure-2013.pdf

        4) Dennis Shanahan, "Radical revamp planned for AEC." The Australian, 10th April, 2014. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/radical-revamp-planned-for-aec/story-fn59niix-1226879396867

        5) Interview Zim Nworoka McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow Law School, University of Melbourne 15th September 2014

Australia has a bicameral legislative system in which the Queen (or King) of England is the official head of state. The Queen is represented by the Governor-General, who is appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the government of the day. The prime minister, elected as the leader of the party/coalition in government, acts as the head of government.

Australia is commonly referred to as having a "Washminster" system, as it meshes aspects of the British and US legislatures. Government is formed by a majority in the House of Representatives, and the Prime Minister is traditionally a Member of the House. The House and Senate have similar legislative powers, though monetary Bills (e.g. Budget, Bills with budgetary implications) need to be introduced in the house. All legislation needs to be passed by both Houses in the same form, to be enacted.

The lower house of Parliament, the House of Representatives, has 150 members who are elected via preferential voting in single member districts. The upper house, the Senate, has a quasi-proportional voting system to elect its 76 members (12 from each of six states - irrespective of the number of voters in each state; and two from each of two territories). Elections are held approximately every three years, for all House of Representatives seats, and half the state Senate seats (six-year terms) and all territory Senate seats. Although there is no formal requirement to do so, for practical reasons House and Senate elections have been held concurrently since 1974.

Campaign funds are generally (though not always) managed by parties on behalf of their endorsed candidates, though candidates themselves are free to source donations. Candidates can also manage their own funds, but this usually does not happen for larger parties. Independent candidates, however, manage their own funds. Parties submit financial figures for their endorsed candidates annually. Campaign funds are generally managed by the party on behalf of their endorsed candidates.

The most recent elections were held in September 2013, and in Western Australian, a second election for Senate positions was held in April 2014, following the 2013 election being declared void. As a result of these elections, the Liberal/National Coalition won Government with 90 seats, the Labor Party, with 55 seats is the official Opposition, with minor parties and Independents holding the remaining five seats.

In the Senate, from July 2014 when newly-elected Senators take up their seats, the composition is 33 Coalition, 25 Labor, 10 Greens, 3 Palmer United, and five minor party and Independent Senators. This is typical of recent decades, where the government usually does not control a majority in the Senate (2005-07 being an exception).