Loopholes? More like gaping holes. Here’s yet another example of how our Commonwealth political donation disclosure laws are rubbish. Controversial mining company Whitehaven Coal gave a total of $20,000 in two lots to the federal Liberal Party after the 2013 federal election. The company then reported the donations to the AEC. Did the Liberal Party report the donations from the company now chaired by former Nationals leader Mark Vaile? No. The donation is missing from the party’s 2013-14 donations declaration — and justifiably, because under Commonwealth laws, a party doesn’t have to report any donation under the disclosure threshold (now $13,000), even if the total of donations from the same donor to the same party exceeds the threshold in a single financial year. Only the donor needs to report them. So you can give a branch of a political party as much money as you like, and as long as each donation is below the threshold, the party doesn’t have to mention it. Of course, you might point out that as long as the donor has to reveal it, it’s OK. Except for all the foreign donors who don’t bother filing a return to the AEC because, well, what are they going to do about it?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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