Electoral reform

For a democracy, Australia has very opaque laws on electoral funding.

Writing in The Age, National Affairs Editor James Massola reports that the government plans a suite of electoral reforms. They would include significant reductions in political donation thresholds before they have to be reported (presently $15 200), real-time reporting (currently subject to months or years of delay), truth in political advertising laws, and possibly greater Senate representation for the ACT and the Northern Territory (presently two senators each). They will most likely be considered by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters before any legislation is drafted.

Missola suggests that these reforms are likely to find favour with independents and the Greens.

But as the committee delves into detail, contentious questions will arise. Will corporations and trade unions still be permitted to make political donations? Should campaign expenditure be capped (the Clive Palmer issue)? Should tax-deductibility of donations be continued and if so, should it extend to independents?

Essential – the government is still travelling well

The fortnightly Essential poll has no political surprises. Some media have made news stories about Albanese’s net approval falling from 41 percent in June (59% approve, 18% disapprove) to 32 percent in July (56% approve, 24% disapprove), but that is still well up on where he was over most of the last three years, between minus 4 percent and plus 25 percent.

Respondents generally believe Australia is headed in the right direction. Following the election there has been a sharp drop in the percentage of people who think Australia is “off on the wrong track”. There are predictable partisan differences, based on people’s vote in May. Even so, among those who voted Coalition, more think that Australia is headed in the right direction (41 percent) than that the country is on the wrong track (35 percent). Younger people are more inclined than older people to believe we’re headed in the right direction.

Even though Coalition, Green and Labor voters generally believe Australia is headed in the right direction, 55 percent of those who voted “independent or other party” believe the country is on the wrong track. It’s unfortunate that Essential has placed independents in the same category as the UAP and One Nation, because it’s a fair bet that supporters of these small right-wing parties would have little support for the government’s policies.