In February 2012, the Parliament of NSW voted to ban all donations from corporations and other organisations, imposing the strictest electoral funding laws in Australia. This historic reform was the conclusion of a decade of campaigning by the Greens and followed two successive steps in gradually tightening NSW electoral funding laws.
Lee Rhiannon launched the Democracy for Sale project in 2001. After seven years of campaigning, the major parties began to budge in 2008 when Premier Morris Iemma passed legislation that required disclosure every six months (rather than every four years). He also promised to ban donations, but this policy was dropped by the Labor government after Iemma was replaced as Premier by Nathan Rees.
In 2009, the Rees government brought legislation that placed a ban on donations from property developers.
In late 2010, new legislation was passed that banned donations from the tobacco industry and for-profit liquor and gambling industries and imposed caps on expenditure by political parties, candidates and third parties. The legislation also changed how public funding of elections is distributed.
Finally in February 2012, legislation was passed that banned all donations from corporations and other organisations (including union affiliation fees).
Although details of donations have been available from the Election Funding Authority since 1981 it was only with the establishment of the Greens Democracy4sale.org research project in 2001 that the public could readily access information on the quantity of money coming from individual donors and from categories of donors such as property developers, the finance sector, clubs and hotels and the finance sector.
This website has proved to be an invaluable tool for journalists, community groups and concerned individuals wanting to highlight the impact of political donations on the democratic process.
Democracy4sale has been the centrepiece of the Greens campaign for far reaching reform of political funding. The campaign has also included private members bills, public meetings and the preparation of many briefs on donation stories for journalists.
Premier Iemma's decision to reform the political funding regime is certainly linked to the growing number of scandals that have dogged both the Coalition and Labor parties. Without a massive public outcry the major parties would have happily continued to pocket the millions of dollars from corporate and group donations that have become the lifeline for their exorbitant election campaigns.
Read through the history of the campaign for donations reform in NSW ... read more.
NSW donations reform legislation
This bill was the first significant election funding bill brought by the O'Farrell Coalition government. The Bill banned all donations from corporations and other organisations. It also prohibited union affiliation fees going to political parties.
This Labor government legislation introduced caps on spending, changed the system of election funding, introduced administrative funding, and required third parties spending money in an election campaign to be registered and abide by spending caps.
This legislation prohibited donations from property developers to parties or candidates.
A Labor government Bill that brought in changes to the disclosure regime that according to the Premier would improve transparency and accountability.
Sylvia Hale’s amendment no. 92 if passed would have established a ban on donations from developers to political parties.
Greens private members bill introduced by Sylvia Hale in April 2008. In May the Bill was referred to the Select Committee on Electoral and Political Funding for consideration. The Bill's principal object was to ban developer donations. It was restored to the notice paper on 13 November 2008. Debate on it was adjourned on 21 October 2009 on a motion of Don Harwin, the Liberal Whip. The Labor government supported this move which meant the Bill was never voted on in the House. The Greens opposed the adjournment of the debate.
Greens private members bill introduced by Lee Rhiannon to ban developer donations, to provide for the disclosure of donations and to make other provisions aimed at preventing corruption by amending the Election Funding Act 1981 and the Local Government Act 1993.