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Government yet to deliver on promise made to independents

MORE than two years after promising to overhaul Australia's political party funding, the Federal Government has not yet delivered the changes.

Special Minister of State Gary Gray proposed minor changes to the Commonwealth Electoral Act, tabling the proposed reforms late on the final parliamentary sitting day of the year.

He referred the amendments to the Joint Standing Committee of Electoral Matters for public investigation and to report back in the New Year.

But while he has proposed some changes, crucial promises made to independent MPs to secure their support for the minority Gillard Government remained undelivered, despite a deadline of 2012.

The promise was part of the agreement to form government, with Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan pledging to deliver real reform to political party funding by the end of the year.

Ms Gillard and Mr Swan agreed to lower the donation disclosure threshold to $1000, down from more than $12,000, and banning anonymous political donations over $50, as well as other key changes which could level the playing field and jeopardise the major parties long-held control of parliament.

But despite numerous committee inquiries recommending the same or very similar changes be made, the government has not acted in parliament on the promise in the two years since it was made.

Rather, the bill Mr Gray tabled on November 29 proposed changes in relation to an inquiry into the 2010 election, including electoral redistributions and changes to the postal voting system.

On the same day, Transport Minister Anthony Albanese tabled an update on the progress made towards numerous committee inquiries.

In that document, the government said it would "report in due course" on the inquiry, the only official update on the government's response since the original inquiry was completed, two months late, in December 2011.

That update also comes six months after the government response was officially due in June this year.

In response to requests for an update on the matter in November, Mr Gray's office released a statement which said the government was still considering the report, including possible legislative amendments.

The late tabling of the current amendments being considered by the JSCEM led to the window for public submissions ending on December 21.

No submissions were sent in and no public hearings about the changes have yet taken place.

The committee was expected to report its findings from the inquiry next year.

Topics:  federal government, funding, julia gillard




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