Calls for stricter disclosure laws for activist groups

One of Australia’s leading political campaigning experts has called for tighter financial disclosure laws around the activities of special interest groups such as Get Up! and Advance Australia.

Dr Andrew Hughes from The Australian National University College of Business and Economics said the groups are influential enough to decide elections.

“These groups have very little transparency in their financial dealings,” Dr Hughes said

“It needs to be looked at after this election.

“Political parties have to adhere to strict campaign finance laws regarding the disclosure of donations and the origins of their finances.

“Yet for these increasingly powerful activist groups there is very little legal framework that would provide that level of transparency.”

Dr Hughes said activist groups are already starting to have an influence on the 2019 Federal Election. He expects they will have a significant sway over the outcome.

“They have the potential to actually tip this election for one side over another,” he said.

“Get Up! this election will have the same sized campaign war chest as a the two major parties of around $12-15 million.

“They will spend most of that money in 30 key electorates where they have identified people who they want to topple from their seats. Most of those people are Coalition members.

“The fact is that when you are up against someone with that amount of money behind them it makes it very, very hard going.”

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