Study Ranks Australia Behind Russia in Campaign Financing Transparency
A new report by Money, Politics and Transparency, an international organisation of over 100 political financing experts, ranks 54 countries on the integrity of their political finance systems. The study ranked countries across 50 indicators in such areas as limits on private donations, strength of reporting requirements, and enforcement capabilities.
Australia came in 23rd, just behind Russia and Thailand and well behind the United States, which ranked 5th.
The authors noted 'there are few restrictions on political donations in Australia beyond the requirement to declare donations of more than $13,000' and that donors could give up to that amount to each state, territory and federal branch of a political party before needing to identify themselves. They also found there was 'no concrete prohibition against the use of state resources in electoral campaigns', thus giving incumbent MPs and senators the advantage of using their staff, cars, offices and travel allowances during election campaigns.
The report described the Australian Electoral Commission as 'well-respected' and 'independent' but noted that it lacked 'legal authority to impose sanctions' and had not initiated a prosecution in over seven years. Australia scored well in public disclosure indicators, as citizens and the media had 'good access to disclosed materials and strong reporting requirements'.
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