Passing of new Bill
RESULTS Australia welcomes the passing of an amended Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform Bill through the House of Representatives this week. We are pleased to see a much more sensible Bill get bipartisan support.
The willingness of all parties to work to improve the Bill recognises the role that not-for-profit organisations play in keeping governments accountable and advocating for the public good.
Why was such a Bill proposed?
Almost a year ago, the Australian Government introduced a Bill which proposed new constraints and regulation of advocacy. There was much opposition to the reforms from not-for-profit organisations, charities, community groups, business groups, academics and more.
What impact would the new Bill have had?
Because a significant proportion of RESULTS’ funds in recent years have come from our U.S counterparts, this legislation would have directly impacted the work we do advocating for aid funds to immunize children, get them into school and fight infectious diseases like polio and tuberculosis. Such a ban would also deny the benefits that international philanthropy makes possible for many Australians through other charities that advocate on public health, ethics regulations, medical research, environmental protection and indigenous land issues.
There is a distinct difference between donations to political parties (the primary target of this legislation) and philanthropy for charitable purposes and it would damage the functioning of our democracy.
After conducting hearings with the sector around these issues, in April 2018 the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) released a unanimous report recommending the Bill should re-define “political expenditure” as spending “to influence voters to take specific action as voters, so as not to capture non-political issue advocacy”. This was a positive first step to acknowledge that there is a difference between the crucial issues-based advocacy work done by non-profit organisations and charities; and partisan electioneering.
Following a hearing in September 2018, the JSCEM released a second series of recommendations which saw significant improvements to the Bill.
Why RESULTS Australia welcomes the final result
Just this month, the Federal Government introduced a version of the Bill to the Senate that addressed the majority of the not-for-profit and charitable sector’s concerns and removed the largest threat to our work.
We are are so thrilled, as it means that RESULTS Australia can continue our work unimpeded by the threat of losing our main source of funding.