Local charities and concerned citizens joined Lisa Chesters MP today at a ‘Stand up for Democracy’ demonstration in response to the Liberal Government’s proposed donation legislation which seeks to silence charities and advocacy groups.
Late last year the Liberal Government introduced The Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017 to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act. However, the Bill goes much further than banning foreign donations to political parties.
“Over the past month my office and I have received hundreds of phone calls, emails and faxes from worried constituents and representatives from the not-for-profit sector who believe this Bill is a clear attack on all charities.
“The Liberal Government’s legislation places further disclosure requirements on political campaigning entities, and potentially captures third parties such as charities, not-for-profit groups, advisory bodies and churches.
“There are parts of this Bill which seek to shut down public debate and to silence the very organisations that hold our political leaders to account. This is wrong.
“Many local charitable and not-for-profit organisations will be prevented from advocating for a more fair and just Australia if this legislation goes through in its current form.
“If passed with no amendments, this Bill is an attack on Australia’s civil society and the proud history we have as citizens to advocate, protest and raise our voices on issues that concern us,’ said Ms Chesters.
The not-for-profit and charity sectors are amongst the most trusted in Australia and organisations across the Bendigo electorate play a vital role in Central Victorian communities.
“This Bill would be bad for democracy. Labor will not let the government silence legitimate political debate.
“We will not let the government silence organisations seeking to make legitimate contributions to our nation’s political debate, especially organisations in Bendigo and Central Victoria.
“I have a strong working relationship with charities and not-for-profits in the Bendigo electorate and will fight to ensure they continue to have the opportunity to actively participate in our democratic processes,’ said Ms Chesters.