ELECTORAL (FUNDING, EXPENDITURE AND DISCLOSURE) AMENDMENT BILL

Second Reading

Adjourned debate on second reading.

(Continued from 2 November 2016.)

Ms CHAPMAN ( Bragg—Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (16:37): I rise to speak to the Electoral (Funding, Expenditure and Disclosure) Amendment Bill and expect to be the only speaker in the opposition. The matter of substance, namely the Electoral Act, the actual law we are amending, relates to the Electoral (Funding, Expenditure and Disclosure) Amendment Act 2013, the effect of which was to provide for the rules and regulations surrounding the entitlement of political parties to access public funding for election campaigns, and the obligations of disclosure and expenditure capping that were prerequisites to being eligible for the said public funding.

The effect of that act, and its obligations, commenced on 1 July 2015, so for the last 14 or 15 months we have been operating under that regime. With the best will in the world, when a new, novel scheme is introduced, it sometimes requires some amendment. This is no exception. It is fair to say on the principal act that the model which has been implemented for South Australia, as proposed by the government, certainly is not easily compared in other jurisdictions, particularly the commonwealth, because we did not follow their disclosure scheme and funding model. In any event, we are not here to revisit that.

We have a novel arrangement, and we have all signed up to it, to the extent of the principal act. In the course of its operation, unsurprisingly, some deficiencies have been identified and the government has worked with members of our party, and I expect other members of existing parties, to attempt to resolve these inconsistencies and anomalies so that we can have the fluid and effective implementation of this law in the lead-up to and during the 2018 election.

I am advised that, essentially, these amendments incorporate a pre-existing agreement to provide an up-front one-off payment to parties with six or more members to compensate for the establishment costs incurred by parties to ensure compliance with the new recording requirements under this new regime; to provide for greater consult by regulation of funding to be paid to parties every six months for ongoing compliance; furthermore, to clarify reporting requirements in the last weeks before the election; to introduce a new definition of a person who can prove they exercised all reasonable diligence to prevent the commission of an offence; and to repeal a section the government believes will undermine the stricter reporting and time frames under our South Australian law.

I thank the government for bringing some of these matters to our attention and agreeing to work through them so that we implement an orderly and workable model. The election is less than 500 days away, and we do need to make sure that these are remedied. With those few words, I indicate that we will support the passage of the bill. I understand that representations do continue, and I think this is entirely appropriate to look at as the new waves of introduction are coming into place. If any further clarification is required, as a parliament we may need to attend to it, but hopefully not. If we do, there is an opportunity of course in the Legislative Council to manage that. With that, I support the bill.