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On political donations, Queensland sets the pace

TJ Ryan Foundation Research Associate, Graeme Orr, writes in Inside Story (13.3.17) about how, urged on by an independent MP, Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government has shown how real-time disclosure of political donations can work.

‘According to the old joke, Queensland has its own sense of time, literally and politically. “We have crossed the Tweed river, please wind your clocks back one hour and ten years.” Today, a failure of commuter trains to run on time, or sometimes at all, is one of the Queensland Labor government’s biggest headaches.

‘But in a leap into modernity, Queensland has now become a national leader in timeliness and political accountability. The state Electoral Commission’s Electronic Disclosure System, covering both state and local government political donations, went live just a fortnight ago.

‘The system has two broad aims. The most important is timeliness: it seeks to get as close as possible to “real time” disclosure of donations. (A corollary is that disclosure will also be relatively continuous, rather than annual or biannual.) The other broad aim is ease of access.

‘… How does disclosure in Queensland now compare with the rest of Australia? Ranked in terms of transparency, it looks like Queensland is at the top, with South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory vying for second place. New South Wales lags in fourth, and every other state and territory, together with the Commonwealth, comes a distant last.’

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