A joint submission by 44 members, including ActionAid Australia, of the Hands Off Our Charities alliance
The Hands Off Our Charities alliance would like to thank the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters for the opportunity to provide a submission to the Review of the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Act 2018 (the EFDR Act).
Charities’ advocacy is a critical element of a vibrant Australian democracy
Charities provide a vital vehicle for ordinary Australians to be heard in national debates of importance. Every year, millions of Australians choose to make their voices heard on issues they care about by joining, donating to, or otherwise supporting charities and other not-for-profit organisations. In addition, charities that work on the frontlines, for example, of climate change, violence against women and homelessness, offer a wealth of expertise in public debate on important issues. Finally, charities give voice to the voiceless, including disenfranchised communities and the planet.
The HOOC alliance supports laws that protect the integrity of representative government and promote fairness and participation in public debate.
HOOC’s overarching concern with this review, and all future amendments to the Electoral Act, is that in seeking to achieve electoral integrity, legislation does not stifle the civil society voices that are vital to the health of our democracy, especially in the absence of any compelling evidence.
Hands Off Our Charities (HOOC) is an alliance of charity and not-for-profit organisations formed in 2017 in response to a number of bills which would have severely restricted the voices of charities and not-for-profits and added significant barriers to advocacy. This included implications of the originally drafted Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017 (the EFDR Bill). The alliance has previously made submissions to the Committee on the EFDR Bill and has submitted ‘Red Line Principles’ for amendments to the Bill, which form part of this submission.