If I can bloody do it, why can't they?
We’re proud to have the most transparent donations policy in the country. We do it to show the rest that it’s possible. It makes it harder for us, it costs us, but we think it’s a point of principle.
Our donations laws in Australia are broken. A donor can contribute nearly $14,000 - that’s a year’s full rate of Newstart - and it will never need to be revealed. That’s incredible.
But it gets worse. They can make a nearly $14,000 donation, every hour, on the hour, for a whole year - and it would never need to be disclosed. That’s right - you could donate over $100 million to a political party and there’d never be anything disclosed. You just have to do it in instalments.
And if you make a donation that goes over the $14,000 limit, nothing gets disclosed for up to 18 months. That’s half a term of Parliament. We don’t find out who’s donating to our political parties at the start of a Parliament until we’re in the final half of it.
Those three problems aren’t hard to solve. The experts say all you’d need to do is three things: lower the disclosure threshold, aggregate donations, and introduce real-time disclosure.
So if we know the solutions, why aren’t we solving the problem?
Because the big political parties are locked in a stalemate, where nobody wants to start going down that path until the other goes down that path first. And if you’re always waiting for the other one to make the first move, you’re going to end up moving nowhere.
The JLN donation policy is a circuit-breaker. We’re making the first move. So buck up, big boys, because if we can do it, so can you.
Here’s how we’re different:
We count up the value of each individual donor’s contributions. None of this ‘multiple donations below the threshold’ business. We consider the total value of contributions in a six-month period, no matter how much each individual donation is worth.
Every other party has a $14,000 threshold for disclosing donations. If you’re above it, your donation is made public. For us, if you contribute more than $2,500 in a six-month period, that contribution is disclosed.
Every three months we publish the most detailed breakdown of our donations of any political party in the country. We include the average donation value, the median donation value, the breakdown of where the money is coming from by state and territory, as well as the names of donors whose contribution has pushed them above the aggregated threshold and the number of donors over our aggregated threshold. And during election campaigns, it’s not every three months - it’s every week.
We’re not for sale. Jacqui doesn’t hold fundraisers with the CEOs of gas companies and big banks. Everything we raise goes back into campaigning. And we’ll never raise a cent from anybody who’s trying to get us to stop or change direction. We won’t accept a donation from an individual or an organisation attempting to lobby us. We reserve the right to reject and refund any donation at the sole discretion of the JLN.
We’re a tiny team. We don’t have the resources of the major players. But Jacqui’s always had the view that you don’t demand the rest of the Parliament pick up its game if you’re not prepared to lead by example. So we’re doing this because it’s the right thing to do.
It means we have to turn away donors sometimes. It means we’ve got less to fight the big boys with. But we’re doing this to prove a point -- that you can still run a political party and be open with the people you’re trying to represent.
That’s why this is about more than a donation to the JLN. It’s about proving to the rest of the political system that there’s nothing to fear from being honest and open with voters. We publish what we’re receiving not only so that the public can see what we’re doing, but so that our competitors can too.