Protecting the right for charities to advocate

My office has had a huge amount of calls and emails in regards to the proposed Electoral Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 (the one set to affect charities and not-for-profit organisations). I know it’s an issue of concern for many of you, particularly to those involved in charities and not-for-profits within the Shortland electorate.

The charity sector is among the most trusted in Australia and I, along with the vast majority of Australians, strongly support the right of charities to advocate on policy.

The proposed legislation has a stated purpose of banning foreign donations to political parties, however, it also prevents charities from engaging in advocacy if they receive donations from international contributors.

Charities play a vital role in fighting for a fairer and better Australia by advocating and providing services for some of the most vulnerable people in our community. It’s clear that many organisations would be prevented from advocating if the proposed legislation goes through in its current form.

Labor will not let the Government silence legitimate political debate – it’s bad for democracy. We are committed to reforming our political donations system to ensure our democracy is protected from improper influence overseas. Labor has had legislation in the Parliament to ban foreign donations for years.

However, we are concerned that the Government has overreached with its proposed legislation.

We will continue to work with the Government to find a sensible way to ban foreign donations without selling out charitable organisations that do incredibly important work in our community.

I will be vocal in support of maintaining the ability of charities to advocate on policy. When the Labor caucus considers the legislation, I will argue and vote for a position that maintains that ability. I am confident that robust constraints on foreign influence in our political process can be achieved without stifling the voice of Australian charities and further marginalising the communities they speak out for.

Labor and I will continue to pursue reforms consistent with our long-standing policy objectives of improving the transparency and accountability of Australia’s political donations system.