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Independent Member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie, says today’s release of the Australian Electoral Commission annual returns again highlights the urgent need for political donation reform.

“The figures released by the AEC today paint a dire picture for Australia’s democracy and further demonstrate that current political donation disclosure requirements are deeply flawed,” Mr Wilkie said. “Donations from the gambling industry such as Sportsbet and Clubs NSW, as well as fossil-fuel entities and the tobacco industry, to political parties in an election year, demonstrates yet again how these big spenders continue exerting their influence over the country’s political process and decision makers.

“When someone hands over hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in donations, it comes with an expectation of a return on that investment. And let’s not forget how ridiculous it is that Clive Palmer is allowed to give more than $116 million to his party through his mining company, Mineralogy.

“It’s also alarming to read that the Tasmanian branch of the Liberal Party did not disclose more than 80 per cent of their donations. No wonder trust in politicians is at an all-time low when parties are essentially accepting what can be akin to wads of cash in a brown paper bag.

“The whole process needs a complete overhaul. That’s why I intend to re-introduce my Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Cleaning up Political Donations) Bill to restore public confidence in the process. I introduced the Bill in 2022, but shamefully, although perhaps unsurprisingly, neither party supported it.

“The Bill requires real-time disclosure, lowers the donation threshold to $1,000 aggregated, implements caps on donations and electoral expenditure and expands the definition of gift. Most notably, it will also prohibit political donations from particular industries, including fossil-fuel entities, gambling companies, liquor companies and the tobacco industry.”