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Submission to the Inquiry into and report on all aspects of the conduct of the 2016 Federal Election and matters related thereto (PDF, 134 KB, 1 November 2016)
The Science Party made a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral matters with regards to the 2016 federal election. These recommendations were made with aims of protecting the safety of individuals, levelling the playing field for all political parties and independent candidates, maintaining the integrity of the voting system, and enforcing transparency in government.
Our specific recommendations were as follows:
- Remove the requirement to make public the street address of the person authorising electoral material;
- Regarding social media, authorisation of an official party or candidate account should be sufficient to cover all material published by that account;
- Truth in advertising rules should not be legislated with regards to electoral campaign material;
- The Australian Electoral Commission should maintain its current modest levels of bureaucracy rather than pursue more onerous disclosure rules;
- If Australia moves to an electronic voting system, it should be a hybrid electronic/paper voting system;
- Much faster reporting requirements for political donations over a reduced threshold of $1,000, and the creation of an electronic system to facilitate this reporting;
- Abolish above-the-line Senate voting;
- Identical registration requirements for all registered political parties, parliamentary or otherwise; and
- Remove the the 4% primary vote threshold for public funding of primary votes.
The parliamentary committee released its first interim report, regarding authorisation of electoral material, in early December. This report acknowledged that the current rules surrounding authorisation of electoral material are inconsistent between different media, making it easy both for honest candidates to accidentally do the wrong thing, and for those who seek to bend the rules to get away with it. Sensible reforms to simplify these rules and to apply them consistently were therefore recommended by the committee. The Science Party's second recommendation, regarding a blanket authorisation for social media posts, was noted on page 24.
Our first recommendation, to protect the privacy and safety of those who agree to be liable for the content of campaign material, was not noted, nor was the subject mentioned in the committee's report.
The second interim report, regarding political donations, was released in March 2016. This report recommended banning foreign donations and harsher penalties for breaching electoral rules. It also went into great detail about why environmental groups should have restrictions on their lobbying activities, seemingly in response to a point made by the Minerals Council of Australia. Spot the irony.
We look forward to further reports from the committee to address electoral mechanics and barriers to entry for small parties and independent candidates.
See also: the Science Party's submission to the inquiry into the conduct of the 2013 Federal Election.
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