The Howard Government last week passed its most disgraceful piece of legislation since getting Senate control – the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Electoral Integrity and Other Measures) Act 2006.

Whilst there's been the odd whinge, a respected political academic told me yesterday that the media have not kicked up an appropriate stink about these three absolute howlers in the new laws:
  • The electoral roll closes on the day an election is called, thereby disenfranchising tens of thousands of young voters, who mainly vote Green and Labor, and ensuring hundreds of thousands of electors can't correct outdated enrolment details.
  • Lifting the disclosure threshold for political donations from $1,500 to $10,000, arguably the weakest system in the developed world.
  • Increasing the tax deductibility of donations from $100 to $1,500 when political parties are already lavished with federal public funding of almost $2 a vote.
However, the political start-up that I'm involved with, People Power, has just received a letter from the Australian Electoral Commission outlining another nasty in the fine print of the laws. Unbelievably, it seems all registered parties that don't have an incumbent MP will be automatically de-registered on 27 December, 2006.

People Power first lodged in November 2004 and we were put through the ringer on a range of issues but didn't finally get registered until 31 March, 2006. Lo and behold, just three months later the Howard Government passes new laws deregistering us and about ten other parties such that we'll all have so go through the process yet again. It's a disgrace. Talk about creating barriers to entry and a tilted playing field.

Incidentally, the new laws for tax deductions are now in place, so today I've transferred $1500 to People Power from my account and the beloved wife Paula has made a similar donation. That's just cost the Federal Government almost $1000 in lost tax revenue as this new system of expanded political welfare kicks in.

If you fancy another tax deduction before the end of the financial year, why not give generously to your favourite political party before close of business tomorrow night. Provided they are registered, of course, because donations to independents are not tax-deductible – one of the many quirks in the system that entrench the existing major party duopoly.