Fridays topic – the Third Party Problem
The biggest change on Victoria’s public space is the attempt to control all organizations who make any comment upon the candidacy or on a Political Party who is seeking office at a State Election. The bench mark for size is $2,000 of expenditure on any activity related to making the political comment.
Every Bicycle Club, Car Club, Horse Club, Civic Association, Parents Help Group, Patient Support Group who makes a comment that is supportive or derogatory to a candidate or Party can be caught by this appalling attempt to control public life.
Legal advice suggests that Federally Registered Charities who only denounce Policy but refrain from mentioning who proposes or denounces the Policy – will not be caught. So Cancer Council or the RACV with good legal advice can discuss Policy – as long as they don’t say that a candidate or Party should be supported or chastised.
The reason for this horrid over reach is that the central part of the new Bill deals with severe closure of Party’s donations, and the writers of the Bill are afraid that supporters of the Party’s will just set-up front groups and continue campaigning. But the only Act which is never repealed is the Law of Unintended Consequences. They have firmly placed their boot over normal public life, and any attempt to protest at the actual or possible outcomes of Bills, Acts and State regulation.
What will happen ?
Each group ( Third Party campaigner ) caught by the new Act will need to first appoint an Agent who is legally responsible for the money, administration and form lodgement. No individual will be allowed to donate more then $4,000 to the ‘Third Party campaigner ‘ between any two election days, and if more than $1,000 in a financial year they must be be publicly disclosed on the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) website . Two years imprisonment for the Agent and the donor if either doesn’t lodge the paperwork – or 200 penalty points if a fine is imposed.
The Third Party campaigner group must also maintain a separate bank account for all funds raised to use as Victorian Political Expenditure, this account cannot contain any moneys not donated for the purpose of Victorian Political Campaigning – no subscription money, no book sales etc. There can be only one bank account for the Victorian Campaigning.
What if the group doesn’t register, or worse what if a political party supporter runs a group outside the donor rules for Party’s or for Third Party campaigners – Ten Years imprisonment for any attempt to circumvent the donor rules – far harsher than simple non-compliance with paperwork ( which as noted is two years or 200 penalty points)
Any individual can support up to six Political Party’s or Third Party campaigners to the full capped donation of $4,000, but if any of those groups are associated then the capped amount is aggregated (so $4,000 is total of the donations ). Again severe penalties and the over donation is forfeit to the State if not returned on finding the error.
The only respite from endless form filling for donors and groups is that any donation up to $50 is exempt – so tin rattling doesn’t need a spreadsheet.
Businesses are included in the donor restrictions and an ABN must be provided for any notifiable donation (i.e. over $50), as is the electoral address for any individual.
The Bill can be downloaded here >> Electoral-legislation-amendment-bill-2018 <<<<
THE TEXT OF THE 'Third Party Campaigner' CLAUSES see the Bill Amendment #40 to Clause 206- p.27 : "third party campaigner means any person or entity other than— (a) a registered political party; or (b) a candidate at an election; or (c) a group; or (d) an elected member; or (e) an associated entity; or (f) a nominated entity of a registered political party— that incurs political expenditure which exceeds a total of $2000 in a financial year;". see the Bill Amendment #40 to Clause 206 - p.26 206 "political expenditure means any expenditure for the dominant purpose of directing how a person should vote at an election, by promoting or opposing— (a) the election of any candidate at the election; or (b) a registered political party which has endorsed any candidate at the election;" *** THE TEXT OF THE Scheme to avoid Penalty "218B Offence to enter into or carry out scheme (1) A person must not enter into, or carry out, a scheme, whether alone or with any other person, with the intention of circumventing a prohibition or requirement under this Part." Penalty: 10 years imprisonment.