After years of campaigning, the ACT Greens have welcomed today’s recommendations from the Inquiry into 2020 ACT Election and the Electoral Act, which would deliver a stronger, healthier democracy in the ACT.
The Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety has tabled its report, recommending the ACT Government:
- Ban roadside electoral signs during election campaigns;
- Cap donations at $10,000 for any individual, corporation or associated entity; and
- Ban donations from the gambling industry.
“We are delighted the Committee has made these recommendations, which match what the ACT Green’s submission to the inquiry called for to clean up our democracy,” said ACT Greens spokesperson for Democracy, Andrew Braddock MLA. “Canberrans have told us they want a political system that puts them first, that they can engage with and can trust.
“Integrity, accountability and transparency in politics are vital to a healthy democracy and we believe the Committee recommendations will support a voter-first approach, ensuring democracy is not bought, but is instead genuine and equitable.
“The ACT Greens have long set the standard and the agenda when it comes to strengthening our democracy, with former ACT Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur working on some of these issues back in 2012.
“Since then, we’ve managed to ban donations from property developers, establish an Integrity Commission and now we can be hopeful that the next ACT election will look significantly different, and better.”
Ban on roadside signs
“The ACT Greens made an election commitment ban roadside signs, and we ensured further restrictions on roadside advertising was included in our Parliamentary and Governing Agreement with Labor, as agreed legislative reform,” Mr Braddock said.
“We’ve already walked the talk, making the 2020 election the second in a row where the ACT Greens did not use roadside electoral signage. We had a record number of candidates elected, showing are more effective ways of informing voters to make their decisions than polluting public space.
“Canberrans don’t like roadside election signs. Even the ACT Electoral Commission has noted ‘widespread dissatisfaction’ with the proliferation of campaign signs along Canberra’s roadways in previous years
“This committee recommendation is a massive step towards making the corflute wars a thing of the past.”
Cap donations at $10,000
“In the 2012, led by the ACT Greens in the Assembly, the ACT had robust donation laws restricting donations to ACT political parties to individuals on the ACT electoral role. In 2014, both major parties voted to reverse these reforms, allowing corporations and other vested interests to invest significant sums in vested political influence. Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury was the only member of the Assembly to vote against these changes, calling them ‘an attack on democracy’.
“After years of campaigning, we are delighted that the Committee has recommend that the ACT Government explore options for reinstating the $10,000 cap on political donations.
Ban donations from the gambling industry
“In 2019, the Alliance for Gambling Reform reported that the major political parties received $2.867 million from gambling donors nationally. In 2016, ClubsACT made a $100,000 donation to one political party.
“Unlike the major parties, the Greens refuse to take donations from corporations trying to buy influence, and we believe there is no place for gambling money in politics. The Committee’s recommendation today would keep profits from destructive poker machines out of political parties and out of our democratic processes,” Mr Braddock said.
Lowering the Voting Age
Disappointingly, the Standing Committee did not agree to investigate lowering the voting age. ACT Greens member of the committee Jo Clay tabled a dissenting report to highlight the Greens’ differing stance on this issue.
“It has long been ACT Greens policy to lower the voting age and we will continue to fight for young Canberrans to have a say about their future,” said ACT Greens spokesperson for Young People, Johnathan Davis MLA. “The ACT Greens want to empower the next generation of Canberrans to be involved in the decisions that will impact them. We believe that in a healthy democracy, young people should be supported to engage with government and politics.
“The views of young people must be elevated when it comes to decisions that affect their future. We will continue to advocate strongly on behalf of young people.”