MEDIA RELEASE - 9 April 2018
Parliamentary Report puts Turnbull Government on back foot over attempt to curtail civil society
The Australian Greens have congratulated charities and non-government groups for their broad based campaign that has successfully pushed the Turnbull government onto the back foot with their attempt to limit community campaigning and advocacy.
“Today’s JSCEM Report that has failed to endorse the Turnbull government's Electoral Bill is a credit to the mass mobilisation of charities and community groups that have warned about the Bill’s undemocratic practices,” Greens democracy spokesperson, Senator Lee Rhiannon said.
“The Australian Greens have issued a Minority Report in response to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters’ inquiry into the Turnbull Government’s Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017.
“I’m pleased that the Committee’s Majority Report does not endorse the Bill in its current form. The Greens have long said that this bill is really about silencing civil society in Australia, and should be withdrawn.
“The bill is a ploy by the Government to use the public’s concern about foreign influence in Australian politics to crack-down on its own critics. This bill would not have prevented recent scandals involving foreign influence, but it will place serious restrictions on non-government advocacy.
“I’m pleased that other members of the Committee, from all sides of politics, agree to recommendations that will require the Bill to be redrafted.
“The Greens recognise that it’s not possible to amend this Bill to the point where it can become law. It needs to be sent back to the drawing board. The government needs to widely consult and be willing to start again.
“The Australian Greens have long argued for serious reform of electoral funding and disclosure. We are prepared to work with any party to reduce the influence of big money in politics. If the Government and the ALP are serious about genuine reform, we have a number of bills before the Senate which would help restore integrity.
Senator Rachel Siewert, Greens spokesperson for family and community services, said, “The fact that a government-majority committee doesn’t endorse the Bill is a win for charities and not-for-profit organisations, who have campaigned tirelessly against it, and in favour of a vibrant democracy.
“But there’s more work to do. We need to make sure that the ALP and the cross-bench oppose this Bill outright and send it back to the drawing board, so that charities can keep doing their important work.