QLD to get real time donations disclosure system

THE Palaszczuk Government is set to make good on a commitment it made to Speaker Peter Wellington and introduce a system which will let voters identify a candidates' financial backers prior to polling day. 

Under Queensland's present legislation political donations do not have to be disclosed until between 15 and 16 weeks (four months) after we go to the polls.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said that situation would change by the end of the year as the Electoral Commission of Queensland is presently working on a system to ensure how much money has been given to a candidate and by whom is available online as soon as practicable. 

 "Now we will deliver on our commitment to the Member for Nicklin (Peter Wellington) to introduce real-time donation disclosure laws for Queensland.

 "That means when voters go to the ballot box, they will be fully informed about who is donating to which candidates, and how much they're donating.

 "Queensland will have some of the most progressive, open and transparent political donations laws in the country.

 "An implementation plan is currently being considered, but I would envisage that the electronic system will be in place by 1 January, and would go live by the end of February.

 "It means that instead of waiting months to see who is donating to a political party, people will be able to see who is donating and how much they are donating before an election takes place."

 Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said the ECQ would find the software required to post the disclosure returns in questions to the web. 

 "The ECQ is already working on assessing an appropriate software provider, and Cabinet will soon consider what changes to laws and regulations will be needed, such as changes to the Local Government Act.

 "The ECQ will also consult widely, including with political parties and interested stakeholders.

 "The Palaszczuk Government is determined to ensure integrity and accountability is a cornerstone of our democratic process."

Meanwhile the LNP indicated a belief the Labor Government would fail to introduce the reforms. 

"The LNP Opposition will make comment once we see concrete policy from the Palaszczuk Government," a spokeswoman said. 

"At this stage their proposal is nothing but policy by media release."

And the Greens said the move did not go far enough. 

"The very least the public can expect is a right to know where donations are coming from before they vote,"  a spokesman from the Greens said. 

"What we need most is to remove the influence of big money from politics. Government decisions should be totally removed from property developers, casino promoters, alcohol companies and other vested interests.

"NSW have capped donations at $5000 and banned donations from property developers.

"That'd be a good start in Queensland too.

"The Greens call on wholesale changes to remove big money from politics to be implemented by the state parliament at the same time as the welcome reforms just announced."

The announcement comes 15 days after the due date for candidates in the most recent local government election to file their returns. 

Under Queensland's present legislation candidates in a local government election face maximum penalties of fines of $12,190 - or being forced to pay the value of the donation to the state government - if a court finds they have made willfully misleading statements in their return.

The maximum penalty for simply failing to file a return in $2438. 

For people involved in state politics the maximum penalty for willfully misleading the ECQ about a political party's donors is $24,380.

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