Electoral System Reforms Simplify, Boost Transparency

  • Electoral Amendment Bill 2024 to be introduced into Parliament next week
  • Key amendments relate to penalties for accepting an anonymous donation, consistency around disclosure of political contributions and the publication of donor information

The Cook Government will move to further strengthen Western Australia's electoral system by introducing additional amendments to the Electoral Act 1907.

The further reforms, which will be introduced next week and ahead of the anticipated 1 July commencement date, will provide for even greater transparency with regard to donations and ensure that the privacy of individuals who donate to political parties is better protected.

The key reforms to the amendment Bill to be introduced next week will:

  • ensure that once a donor has made a donation of $2600, all subsequent donations, no matter how small, made by that donor will be disclosed;
  • amend the requirement for the Electoral Commissioner to publish a donor's full address, so that only their postcode must be published;
  • provide that a responsible person can direct another person to lodge the notice on their behalf; and
  • include a penalty of up to $36,000 for political parties accepting anonymous donations of any amount, or up to $24,000 in the case of other political entities.

In November 2021, the Government passed historic reforms which introduced a single State-wide electorate for the Upper House, meaning that every Western Australian will be represented by their local Lower House member and 37 Legislative Councillors in the 2025 election and beyond.

The Government's second tranche of electoral reforms passed the State Parliament in November last year, providing greater transparency and accountability of donations to political parties and candidates.

The reforms to be introduced next week will further make the electoral system fairer, safer and more transparent.

These have been developed following further consultation between the Electoral Commissioner and political parties, ahead of the implementation of the new legislation from July 1, 2024.

As stated by Electoral Affairs Minister John Quigley:

"Last November, the Electoral Amendment (Finance and Other Matters) Bill passed the Parliament.

"Since that time, and ahead of the commencement date of 1 July 2024, the Government has identified a number of improvements that could be made to further enhance transparency and consistency of donation disclosure rules, while still protecting the privacy of individuals.

"In today's climate, where personal information has become a valuable commodity, identity theft is prevalent and the community is increasingly concerned about privacy protections, potential donors may be concerned about the prospect of having their address published on the WA Electoral Commission's website.

"That's why this Bill will stipulate that the Commission must not publish a person's address, other than their postcode.

"The Bill also provides for greater consistency in reporting obligations for political donations, so that regardless of whether a person makes large political contributions or frequent small contributions, the same level of transparency and timeframe for disclosure will apply.

"These improvements come at an opportune time to deliver on the Cook Government's commitment to gold standard transparency in relation to our State's electoral system."

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