AAMRI submission to the inquiry into the Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform Bill 2017

AAMRI submission to the inquiry into the Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform Bill 2017

25th January, 2018

The purpose of the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017 (Cth) is to provide better regulation for those involved in political finance. However, the way the Bill has been drafted will mean its reach will go much further than regulating political finance. Unless amendments are made to the Bill charities (including medical research institutes) will find it much more difficult to both engage in the broader health policy development process, as well as developing health promotion materials.

There are several key terms within the Bill that are either inadequately defined, or not defined at all, making it difficult to determine the extent and scope of the Bill. Attending to these definitions is essential in terms of ensuring ongoing compliance. As the Bill stands, a wide range of charities participating in the policy development process will be reclassified as political actors. This will lead to a combination of some charities exiting the policy development process all together, and for others, significantly increased red-tape, as well as a potential negative impact on domestic donations. For health promotion charities specifically, the Bill will undermine health promotion activities which seek to put the findings of medical research into practice.

Proposed amendments

To overcome these issues, AAMRI suggests that two specific amendments be made to the Bill. These amendments will ensure the Bill does not lead to reduced community involvement in policy development processes, or inadvertently impact on health promotion activities.

An exception to the list of activities defined as having a political purpose should be extended to:

  1. health promotion activities, and
  2. the public expression of views by a registered charity in accordance with its charitable objectives.