Author: Norman

Proposed Amendment – join the Petition

Today (Mon 18th) Mario Panopoulos – the originator of the Change dot org petition (520 signatories and growing) has proposed a great amendment to the horrid Bill.

I propose that only individuals who are on the electoral roll be permitted to donate to political parties.

this implies that:

a) That all the reporting and registration requirements for organizations be lifted as they no longer apply.

b) The ‘sugar daddy’ entities can no longer give donations and are no longer exempt from corruption and police monitoring.

The benefits are that:

a) Allows the public and private funding of campaigns.

b) Allows electoral reform that is popular and understandable.

c) Done the interest of the State as a whole and not in the interests of special interests.

D) Defends free speech and freedom of association, concerns that have come from a number of community groups and organisations.

 

There are many other issues with the Bill – but by ensuring that only enrolled Australian citizens can donate – not foreigners, not corporations – a key goal is achieved.

If you haven’t signed the Petition please do so – https://chn.ge/2soneEg

Ring your Legislative Council members now. Everyone has 5! – click ‘Continue Reading’ to see all the Legislative Councillors

 

Continue reading

Sugar Daddy Update – Cormack and Kroger sense common ground

The ‘Nominated Entity’ clause of the Bill was meant to be balanced – the Labor Party would use the Trades Hall Council and the Liberal Party would use the Cormack Foundation (a trust created by the sale of 3XY in 1987).

The ‘Nominated Entity’ was allowed to donate unlimited amounts to their Party. The ‘Nominated Entity’ had to have a constitution stating that it would only support one Party, and sign a legal form to that effect for the Victorian Electoral Commission. OK for Trades Hall, not so good for Cormack Foundation.

BUT the Cormack Foundation did not have such a goal in its constitution. This was for two main reasons and one minor.

First the Foundation was created at a time when the Hawke Labor Government was contemplating severe restrictions to donations to Federal Partys (in 1987-8). The Liberals wanted to have an ability to fund third party groups (farmers, business etc) to push policy positions without government control.

Second, the Liberal leadership group was concerned that those in control of individual campaigns might not be able to see the ‘wood for the tress’ – spend big on an unwinnable campaign, leaving the Party without future funds.

The third minor point was that each of the senior group had lived through the 1930s & 40s. They knew that the Liberal Party was not likely to be eternal, that another reformation was possible – and that tying the Foundation to a specific incarnation of the centre-right might become an issue in 20 or 30 years.

With the legal tussles over the absolute right of the Liberal Party to Cormacks $70 million treasure chest being judiciated over the last year, and with both sides ‘triumphing’ last Thursday – the problems post 25th November (if the Bill passes in its current form) – are enormous.

The Cormack Foundation has stated it will donate to local campaigns for the 2018 campaign, but Justice Beech acknowledged that the Cormack Foundation isn’t a Liberal Party entity – therefore it will not be permitted to donate more than $4,000 in the 2018-2022 period to the entire Victorian campaign.

Cormack Press Release makes clear that even until November 25th no money will be donated to the Victorian Central office, due to ongoing issues with what Cormack views as poor governance arrangements.

Post 25th November Cormack can donate to six Party’s or ‘Third Party campaigning groups’ each to a maximum of $4,000 over the four years of a Victorian electoral cycle. But the great bulk of the Foundations money will have to go to federal campaigning – where for now larger donations are permitted.

Champagne corks are popping at RG Menzies House in Canberra, with the thought that most of the $70 million of Victorian money will have to be donated to the Federal Office of the Liberal Party.

There will be a great disparity in outcome if the Bill passes in the present form. Labor will get unlimited access to the war chests of the Union movement, Liberals will be running $50 bring a plate dinners.

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Electoral Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 – hits speed bump

Friday 8th June – Legislative Council Update

On Thursday 7th a number of differing issues led to the Government putting the Bill onto hold – at least until Tuesday 19th June.

First, the Cross Bench had begun asking serious questions about the impact of the ‘Third Party campaigner’ clauses, which had the unfortunate effect of capturing small but concerned citizens in a mire of paperwork – with some really nasty penalties for not having t’s crossed and i’s dotted.

The ALP has suggested some solutions to the Cross Bench and these are being considered.

Second, the Liberal Party – which has given some bi-partisan support – decided that the speed of moving from Final Draft on Friday 11th May to wishing an amended Bill be passed on June 7th was too fast.

The Liberal Party room has asked for legal opinions on some issues.

Also in the wings – the Federal Parliament is considering two related Bills. The Espionage Bill and the Foreign Donations Bill have both been waiting for Senate consideration. A large scale amendment block on these Bills was only tabled on Thursday 7th. These two Bills will have some similar effects on restricting and controlling donations, so careful legislators should check to see if they operate well together or should changes be needed to make administration a lighter burden.

Therefore

The very good news is the possibility of a lighter hand on civil society – we eagerly await news of the ALP amendments.

The moderately good news is those who doubt the Bill’s whole philosophy have ten days to get the word out – this horrid Bill can be stopped. The idea of legislative approval being given to the immoral ‘red-shirt’ campaigning in 2014 (with $10,000 a quarter per MP to use for Party purposes), the emphatic purpose of removing the need for supporters and donations from MP’s (by giving outrageously large $6 per vote and removing the need for supporters on Election Day), this is an attempt by a bubbled elite to say farewell to those pesky members and supporters.

Sign the Petition

“Stop the Victorian Government’s attempt to control political speech

and activity.”       >> https://chn.ge/2soneEg

 

490 signatories so far !!

.

 

 

Electoral Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 – Part 3

Sugar Daddy’s and Foreign Influence

The much disliked Bill has another deeply disturbing aspect. Every Party can appoint a ‘Nominated Entity’ – aka ‘Sugar Daddy’. This group is included in the aggregation of donations – so $4,000 between both Party and Sugar Daddy is the limit for a person or business. The Sugar Daddy must-

* be constitutionally required to support only the Party which has appointed it as ‘Nominated Entity’,
* cannot have any voting power over the Party, but must be able to be voted or controlled by the Party,

Unlike normal donors external to the Party unlimited funds can be transferred between the Party and the ‘Nominated Entity’.

What this does is drive two very large trucks through the stated intention of the Bill – to have a transparent Donation Process and to invite large scale rorting to hide campaign influence.

The ALP has let it be known that Trades Hall will be their Sugar Daddy.

To indulge in some what-ifs –

Case 1 – The ‘Not So Sensible Party’ (NSSP) agrees to appoint the ‘No Poor Widows Association’ (NPWA) as it’s Nominated Entity. Prior to 25th November the NPWA asks all the business and personal supporters of the NSSP to donate to a new fund – the ‘State Account for NSSP’, unless they exceed $12,000 no need to let anyone know about these donations. The NPWA then asks all the Widows groups to empty their bank accounts or even borrow against future income to deliver a large lump sum into the State Account for NSSP. On 24th November the No Poor Widows now have $5,000,000 which they can donate at any rate or even allow income to accumulate. As long as they didn’t say they would repay any loans or advances nothing need be declared to the new legal Registrar of Nominated Entities or the Electoral Commission.

 

Case 2 – The ‘No Poor Widows Association’ (NPWA) asks all the widows who belong to the various Widows groups to donate $50 from their next fortnightly income, the Widows groups already can deduct membership fees – but sometimes they ask for direct payments , which widows can opt-out. All these donations then can be added to the ‘State Account for Not So Sensible Party’ without any issues, as they are under the limit for having to be included in any donation monitoring, and they are not subscriptions.

If there are 120,000 widows within all the groups, and only 20,000 read their notice about donating and say ‘no’ – 100,000 will have the $50 withdrawn or $500,000 to add to the ‘State Account for Not So Sensible Party’.

One of the key elements of the Electoral reform is to stop unknown and foreign influences – the Bill states that no one who isn’t eligible for Commonwealth Social Security can donate. BUT if the Widows groups simply hoover under $51 donations, no check is made at any point – nor can they be checked by the Electoral Commission at a later date. Did foreign widows get included ? Did foreign business interests just sign up names and pay the money to the Widows groups ? At the Royal Commission into Widows it was revealed that Widows sometimes were signed up without their knowledge, various payments just being parceled between the businesses and the Widows groups.

The other Sugar Daddy is the candidate , be they of a Party or an Independent. The Candidate can spend any sum on their campaign to be elected. No limits, and under the Commonwealth Tax Act it is all 100% deductible.

No names no pack drill – but we have had two Party Leaders since 2010 who have used their personal money to achieve electoral success.   In the United State it is the norm – John Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, Mitt Romney and now Donald Trump all used substantial family or personal wealth to beat their opposition.

Get ready for lots more connected candidates, rich candidates and Union Hacks in Victoria if supporters are restrained from donating – only the State Funding per vote (for established Party’s), Trades Hall donations and large personal expenditures will be allowed to battle out our elections.

RIP Egalitarian Victoria

Born 3 December 1854 – Peter Lalor,  father

Died 7th June 2018 – at Daniel Andrews hand.

 

 


NOTES on Nominated Entities

movement of funds between nominated entity and Party or vica versa

In section 206(1) of the Electoral Act 2002

but does not include the following—

(j) a gift made by a registered political party to the nominated entity of the registered political party or received by a registered political party from the nominated entity of the registered political party;


REGULATIONS Re STATE CAMPAIGN ACCOUNTS 
207 F The State Campaign Account

(7) The regulations may prescribe—

(a) what other amounts of any kind may be paid into a State campaign account; and

(b) what other amounts of any kind must not be paid
  

Member for Ripon deserves three cheers

On 24th May – the Victorian Legislative Assembly was debating the Electoral Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 – and one member pulled no punches – We post here an excerpt from Hansard (all rights belonging to the Crown).

ELECTORAL LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL
(2018)
p.1656
ASSEMBLY
Thursday, 24 May 2018

Ms STALEY (Ripon) (15:45)

I rise to speak on the Electoral Legislation Amendment Bill 2018. I plan to make a shortI hopecontribution, focusing on campaign finance caps and campaign disclosure. The main elements of this bill that I will be talking about are the introduction of $4000 per term limits on donations; bans on foreign donations; caps on small donations that are not counted, so that we can still run raffles; and the fact that the bill allows union affiliation fees and captures third party campaigners in the scheme and limits their political expenditure.

I am going to start, and probably this will set the scene for what I will say later, by quoting article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and that says that:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Continue reading

Today’s Saturday Age (2nd June) has an article on the consequences for Political Party’s of the centralization demanded by the Bill.

     

“Liberal insiders fear hard right’s tightning grip on election finances” by Noel Towell & Benjamin Preiss

 

Unfortunately it does make some errors re the structure of the Liberal Party, and who is against the Bill and who is in favour. But good to see some interest in a major piece of legislation that is swanning through Parliament.

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Electoral Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 – Part 2

Saturdays Topic – The Paperwork

Every Party, every support group, every Third Party campaigner will have to follow the same form filling regime.

There must be ONE official in (called the Agent) charge of noting donations, authorizing expenditure and ensuring all Forms and Annual Returns are lodge and correct. In organizations with branch or disseminated power this will mean tearing up the structure to conform with Victorian Government demands.

There must be ONE bank account which receives and expends any money which is for Victorian electoral spending. The authorized official  must be the controller of this bank account.

Every donation over $50 must be accompanied by a name of an Australian citizen and their electoral address, or an Australian Business with their ABN (Australian Business Number – used for GST).

The Party/group receiving the donations must track the individual donors so if they break $1,000 in a financial year that a Notification Form be sent to the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) within 21 days. The VEC will publish the name of each large donor on their website.

The Party/group must also remind the donor that they have broken the $1,000 a financial year limit and that the donor must now fill in a Notification Form to the VEC, again within 21 days of the breaking of the limit.

If any donation from a donor breaks a total of $4,000 to the Party/group within the period between any two State Elections the Agent must immediately inform the donor and the VEC and attempt to return the money to the donor. Monies not returned are forfeited to the Victorian Government.

Every donation above the $1,000 in a year requires a separate declaration and Form to be filed by both the Party/group and the donor.

CASE A – Joe Blog is a farmer , he regularly attends a business briefing run by the Deadly Serious Party (DSP), they charge $210 for the monthly breakfast and seminar, these seminars let him know about the laws that are proposed in Parliament that will regulate his business.

He starts attending in July 2019, after attending the October 2019 meeting the DSP informs Joe that he has donated $1,050 and must now lodge a Form as a large donor, the Party also must lodge a Form. The Party and Joe have to each send in a new Form after each months briefing for the rest of the financial year -Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun.

The same routine happens a year later. Forms in Dec 2019, Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun 2020.

In  January 2021 The DSP inform Joe he has breached the donation limit of $4,000 and they return $200 to Joe and inform the VEC of a breach. He cannot attend the briefings until December 2022 after an election which resets the donation limits.

 

CASE B – Elise Jones adores horses, she has always donated a monthly $100 to her favourite ‘Save the Horses’ (StH) campaign. But StH stated before the 2018 election that the ‘Slightly Serious Party’ didn’t like horses – no horse lover should support them. StH is now defined as  a ‘Third Party campaigner’ under the newly enforced Act.

In April 2020 StH inform Elise that she has donated $1,000 in a financial year and must now lodge a Form and must do so for May, June of 2020.

The same routine in 2021. Forms for April, May, June of 2021.

In March 2022 StH email Elise that she has reached the $4,000 for an Electoral cycle and she must not attempt to donate to her favourite cause until December 2022, after the upcoming election.

 

Will having to endlessly fill forms make donation less likely ? Is it just a penalty for caring about what happens to your personal interests and causes ?

To break any of the above rules makes the donor and or the Agent and or the Party liable  200 penalty points (as of June 2018 200 points is [$158.57 x 200] $ 31,714 )


NOTES

"Part 5—Amendments relating to political donations disclosure and reporting scheme

218A Offences in relation to disclosure returns and annual returns
(1) A person who fails to provide a disclosure return or an annual return as required under this Part is guilty of an offence.
Penalty: 200 penalty units.

(2) A person who provides a disclosure return or an annual return as required under this Part that contains particulars that are, to the knowledge of the person, false or misleading in a material particular is guilty of an offence.
Penalty: 300 penalty units or 2 years imprisonment or both.

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Electoral Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 – Part 1

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.

Why?

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.>clipartxtras.com<

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.

 

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What to do about the horrible Electoral Legislation Amendment Bill 2018

A very seriously flawed Bill is before the Victorian State Parliament as we post (1st June 2018)  to re arrange Victoria’s Electoral Act. It passed the Legislative Assembly on Thursday 24th May.

I will be posting for the next week at least (probably to be voted upon Thursday 7th June 2018 in the Legislative Council). See UPDATE below – now 19th June

If you find this Bill  stupid  write / email /phone your MP – especially your Legislative Councillors

– find them here >>  https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/about/electorates

 

A Change.org petition has been started and you can support it –

“Stop the Victorian Government’s attempt to control political speech

and activity.”  >>  https://chn.ge/2soneEg

over 490 signatures so far !

 

The Bill can be downloaded here >>  Electoral-legislation-amendment-bill-2018  <<

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