Stand by for an entirely new level of disclosure on political financing.

South Australian No Pokies MLC Nick Xenophon, fresh from winning well
over 20% of the votes at Saturday’s state election, has flagged that he
will throw open the books at the end of the financial year.

South Australia does not have financial disclosure
legislation that matches the Commonwealth’s. An equivalent to the annual
returns the Australian Electoral Commission produces does not appear. That
means a diminished level of scrutiny. Family First, for example, had a
member elected to the South Australian Legislative Council back in 2006. Yet we
really didn’t get to know about their donors until after they had contested the
2004 federal election and the AEC returns came out.

Members of Parliament, however, still have to declare their pecuniary
interests, and Xenophon has indicated that he will package things up with that.
Not only would that be in the interests of transparency. It will raise the bar
for everyone else.

Peter Fray

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