One out of every five Australians disenfranchised

Today’s changes to electoral laws, stitched up by Labor and the Liberals, will corrupt our democracy and stoke political unrest, Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm has warned.

“Under the smokescreen of preventing foreign donations, evidence for which the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters could not find, the government and opposition have struck a dodgy deal. This deal, together with 2016’s Senate voting changes, will result in a virtual ban on small parties and independents,” Senator Leyonhjelm said.

“It will mean the disappearance of dozens of parties that 22 out of every 100 Australians voted for in the last Federal election.

“The serious ramifications of effectively disenfranchising one out of every five Australian voters must not be underestimated. Political angst in this country will rise further, possibly to dangerous levels.”

The dodgy deal imposes on small parties onerous record-keeping obligations, requirements to establish the personal details and residency of small donors, fines of up to $42,000 for non-compliance, requirements to have party volunteers’ personal details published, and a change in taxpayer funding that discriminates against parties that sometimes win four per cent of the vote and sometimes don’t.

“While the Liberal Democrats believe that all taxpayer funding to political parties should be abolished, it is undemocratic and despotic that major parties will still be able to rely on taxpayer funding to keep afloat under these changes, but small parties will not.”

“The new compliance burden and funding changes mean that only small parties with a multimillionaire backer will survive,” Senator Leyonhjelm said.

“Only extremely wealthy Australians like Clive Palmer will be able to buy their way into politics via a minor party.”

The irony of the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill is that it will not achieve what it purports to do.

“Foreign donations are a negligible part of all parties’ funding, and will continue anyway via indirect means,” Senator Leyonhjelm said.

“If this government bill passes in the Senate today – which it surely will, given Labor’s complicity – it will mark a sad day for democracy in this country.”

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