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Political donations would fall 90% if unions and businesses were banned

Fergus Hunter and Matthew Knott report in the Brisbane Times (6.9.16) on the implications of proposed changes to Australia’s political donation rules, as debate over donations reform continues following Labor senator Sam Dastyari’s acceptance of money from a Chinese business donor.

‘Australia’s major political parties would see the vast majority of high-value donations vanish if only individuals on the electoral roll are allowed to donate, according to analysis of Australian Electoral Commission disclosures.

‘An expanding group of Coalition figures, including current ministers and former NSW premier Nick Greiner, have backed excluding businesses, unions and foreigners from donating to Australian political parties.

‘This would have wiped out roughly 90 per cent of disclosed donations for the Liberals, Labor and the Greens in 2014-15 and 100 per cent for the Nationals.

‘Labor senator Sam Dastyari’s expenses scandal has reignited debate on the political donations regime, with the Greens pushing for a ban on all corporate donations and Labor urging a ban on foreign donations.

‘Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday said his government would look at suggestions for tightening political donations with an “open mind”.’

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