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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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