ACT election 2016: Labor to ban property developer donations, introduce ‘real-time’ reporting

SEPTEMBER 24 2016 – 7:13PM

Matthew Raggatt

Flag of the Australian Capital Territory

ACT Labor will ban political donations from property developers, introduce real-time reporting rules and investigate the public funding of election campaigns if re-elected.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said on Saturday he would also introduce an ACT Integrity Commissioner who would be aided by a team of “specialised investigators” to look into serious public sector breaches of integrity.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr would ban property developer donations for all parties in the ACT if re-elected.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr would ban property developer donations for all parties in the ACT if re-elected.  Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Echoing the laws in New South Wales, Labor would immediately refuse to accept any new property developer donations as part of the commitments.

Mr Barr said the major governance changes would “increase transparency, accountability and integrity in government”.

“We’ll expand the scope of the ACT Lobbyist Register to cover in-house government relations staff, industry associations, and project management liaison officers and companies,” he said.

“We will investigate complementary schemes for public funding of election campaigns that encourage candidates and parties to raise funds from small individual contributions.”

Donations would have to be declared within seven days of being received under the proposed law changes.

The Canberra Liberals have previously promised to set up an Independent Commission Against Corruption if elected next month.

Mr Barr said the integrity commissioner would have the power to conduct hearings and recommend criminal prosecution. The office’s operations would be reviewed after five years.

In a clear swipe against current Speaker and Liberal MLA Vicki Dunne, Mr Barr said Labor would also seek to remove the risks of political interference into complaints against MLAs by preventing the speaker from blocking a complaint to the Independent Commissioner for Standards, or from “insert[ing] their own views when referring the matter”.

Labor said earlier this month that Ms Dunne had “tainted” an independent investigation into a Liberal election flyer.

Mr Barr said ACT Labor supported federal Labor’s proposed ban on international donations, which became a national issue after the controversy surrounding Labor Senator Sam Dastyari’s acceptance of money from a company with direct links to the Chinese government.

The broad reforms would also change enrolment time limits, allowing voters to get on the electoral roll as late as election day itself.

“We will also clos[e] nominations on day five of the formal campaign period to allow for an earlier distribution of postal votes, so more Canberrans get a chance to have their say,” he said.

In a statement, Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson described the proposed integrity commissioner was a “watered-down” version of the Liberals’ ICAC policy.

He said while his party was open to donation reform, an ICAC was “essential” for the ACT.

“The stench surrounding the Labor and Greens government will not be washed away by this desperate and disingenuous last minute announcement,” he said.

“If Andrew Barr was was serious about donation reform he would stop funnelling pokie money through the CFMEU and ‘1973 Foundation’ to ACT Labor.”

With Stephen Jeffery

 

Source : The Canberra Times

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