Victoria Tightening Electoral Funding

So not only does Victoria have predictable electoral cycles, with elections locked into a four year cycle instead of being held at the whim of the party in power. Now we’re going to benefit from some incredibly stringent funding limitations, which are basically aimed at reducing the ability of corporations and lobby groups to buy influence.

The three big bullet points to capture everyone’s attention are:

  • Cap donations at $4,000 over a four-year parliamentary term, completely eliminating large donations to political parties, associated entities, and third party campaigners.
  • Reduce the disclosure limit from $13,200 to $1,000 per financial year.
  • Ban foreign donations.

It’s a huge change, particularly by comparison to federal disclosure law and the more so because they’re also cutting down the delay between submitting financial records to the electoral commission and when those records become available to the country.

Premier Andrews’ full media release is here (PDD) and it’s worth a read. Though I expect everyone will want the same rules to be applied federally, not that there’s much chance of that.

Still, it may make the Victorian Parliament a bit easier to contest in the future and even make a State Pirate Party viable here.


Could we get a member from Victoria to write a short press release summarising this and expressing our support? Basically reword what you have posted there in more formal language. Tighter restrictions on corporate lobbying is part of our platform, and although they don’t go as tough as that I think we’d all support tougher restrictions in principle.

I’ll see what I can do about that after the meeting on Wednesday, everything else for the Party is on hold until that’s cleared. Once that’s done, though, I’m sure I’ll be able to work it in between PAX stuff, though it may depend on some other commitments too.

While I think the Andrews’ government is trying to put out a strong sentiment against political parties getting squillions of dollars for their own interest, this CAP is probably more harmful than it is good.

All it’s going to do is drive the donations underground, either in untraceable ways into the Polly’s back pocket or through related interests. I’d expect a whole bunch of puppet organisations start popping up to campaign on their political party’s behalf.

Disclosure is all that’s needed. It should be transparent, so we can see the interests where the money is really coming from.

It seems like Daniel Andrews (Labor Premier of VIC) is trying to clean up Matthew Guy (Liberal Opposition Leader) of his corruption scandals for him. And Labor get a lot of donations too, there is no way that they will voluntarily forego all that cash, that’s ludicrous.

I don’t think that it will even pass parliament. It might be just hot air to make a point that he is “tough on corruption” (his opposition’s weak point)

That’s surely something that would be investigated through the VEC’s and IBAC’s investigative powers.
I’ve noticed recently that IBAC has been broadening its investigations generally rather than solely focusing on leaks from government departments and other parts of the public service, so personally I have faith that at least that commission is changing internally for the better. Not as good as it could be, but at least appearing to be more organised than say Queensland’s CCC which seems to only put up resources to investigate leaks.

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Such a hypothetical, would be better not to have the problem in the first place. I WANT the money trail in the open.

Has this been the result in countries with even tighter donation laws? Eg Canada?

Sounds rife with corruption

And that’s just from traceable donations put through the system. How do you detect cash under the table?

You can have both, generally more transparent by opening up donations for public scrutiny while also targeting undesirably close connections between certain industries and government e.g. property developers like the current ban in NSW, and there the Electoral Commission withheld public funding for the dollar amount where it could not be reliably traced.

Also, just shining a light on donations would be enough to send them under the table. Hell, even with the very weak disclosure laws that we currently have there’s that whole situation with Pauline Hanson and James Ashby’s aeroplane which looks to be very under the table.

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Donations aren’t even the main issue. If you read Game of Mates you’d discover that donations are merely a medium for reciprocal favour trading. Cracking down on donations can initially throw sand in the gears, but for the most part the donations aren’t even relevant for buying political influence. Dr Cameron Murray discovered that donations are merely used are part of a signaling mechanism (burning money) for showing you’re willing to get your hands dirty and join in the game, which is why you see foreign donors getting busted up more now since they’re new entrants trying muscle in on incumbent players.
The incumbent players themselves don’t rely on donations for actual favour trading. More often favours are repaid with in-kind gifts such as cushy appointments (token jobs paying large salaries), lobbying/advisory positions, introductions to other insiders, marriage partners, scholarships for children’s education, holiday resorts etc.

While reforming donations is a step in the right direction, I don’t put much stock in it. Trying to crack down on the mechanism of the favour trading completely ignores the fundamental problem. So long as grey gifts are on the table for rentiers to chase they’ll use other means for reciprocal favour trading. You need to takeaway the free lunch (or enough of it) to make grey corruption unprofitable, otherwise it simply finds another medium.


There’s a really good example of exactly this sort of thing in the last episode of season one of Yes, Minister with the QANGOs and appointments to them. Then later on; with the end of Yes, Minister and the beginning of Yes, Prime Minister the topic gets revisited as Sir Arnold goes into semi-retirement in a similar position and Sir Humphrey takes his place.