QCOSS is pleased the state government’s Economics and Governance Committee has listened to the concerns of QCOSS and other community groups and charities in its report on the Queensland Government’s political donations bill, released Friday evening.
The report recommended the Electoral and Other Legislation (Accountability, Integrity and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 2019 be passed, but with amendments to ease the burden it places on small not-for-profit community organisations.
The proposed Bill is an important one to improve the transparency of elections in Queensland. However, the onerous compliance and regulatory burdens the Bill proposes was a key concern for QCOSS and other community groups, as it would likely see the sector choosing not to engage in important public debate during election time.
The Committee’s report further stated that there could be scope for more equal treatment of election participants, so the significant burden of compliance does not disproportionately fall on community groups, as opposed to big corporate spenders.
QCOSS Senior Manager for Policy, Advocacy and Capacity Laura Barnes, who gave evidence to the Committee on the Bill in January, says we need to hear and encourage the voice of the community sector.
“It is heartening to see our concerns highlighted in the Committee’s report, as our sector needs to have a voice,” Ms Barnes says.
“Although the report does not address all of our concerns, the fact the Committee has recommended the state government ease the burden this Bill places on small community organisations means they have listened to our advice,” she says.
Ms Barnes says the state government now needs to look at a range of approaches to mitigate the effects, including raising the threshold, narrowing the definition of electoral expenditure, and exempting charities registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission from the Bill.
“We look forward to working with the government to ensure the amendments support the voice of community organisations to continue to be heard in policy and election debates.”
The proposed laws are expected to be voted on in Parliament next week.
For 60 years, QCOSS has been a leading force for social change. We believe that every person in Queensland – regardless of where they come from, who they pray to, their gender, who they love, how or where they live – deserves to live a life of equality, opportunity and wellbeing.