20 Jun 2019
Chief Minister of the Northern Territory
The Territory Labor Government has introduced amendments to the Electoral Act 2004 to improve the openness, accountability and transparency of elections, political parties and political donations.
The Electoral Legislation Further Amendment Bill 2019 implements recommendations from the Mansfield Inquiry into Options for the Reform of Political Funding and Donations in the NT.
The independent inquiry conducted by Commissioner John Mansfield was an election commitment.
The proposed amendments regulate political donations and campaign expenditure across candidates, political parties, associated entities and third party campaigners and include:
An indexed $40,000 cap on electoral expenditure for individual candidates, with a pooled cap for political parties. The maximum cap for political parties standing candidates in all 25 seats would be $1 million.
The proposed amendments maximise the availability of up‑to‑date donation information that can be accessed by the public when casting their vote.
This will have the effect of focusing on increasing the transparency of political donations and expenditure, particularly in election years.
This change will mean that Territorians are informed of what donations parties have received pre-polling starts.
The Bill imposes new requirements for disclosures by third party campaigners and associated groups and caps electoral expenditure for associated groups.
It requires both groups to register with the Northern Territory Electoral Commission (NTEC). NTEC must publish both registers on its website.
The Bill also contains new offences and penalties to drive compliance with the new scheme.
A list of new offences and penalties is attached
Given the current fiscal challenges facing the Territory, the Government has deferred the adoption of public funding and therefore a cap on political donations.
Passage of the Bill will mean these reforms are in place in time for the next NT general election in August next year, with a review post-election.
Quotes from the Chief Minister Michael Gunner:
“We promised to restore trust in and transparency of the electoral process after the scandalous behaviour of the CLP and their Foundation 51 slush fund.
“Territorians are entitled to know that the public good, not private interests determine public policy in the Northern Territory.
“The implementation of these recommendations from the Independent Mansfield Inquiry means greater accountability and transparency for political parties, associated entities, and third party campaigners.
“It also means that Territorians will know who and how much has been donated to parties and candidates before they cast their vote.
“While public funding and a cap on donations remains Government policy, the fiscal challenges currently facing the Territory mean now is not the time to ask Territorians to fund political parties and candidates.
Media contact: Cameron Angus 0404 021 192.