Tasmania Releases Draft Electoral Reform Bills for Public Comment

Thursday 16 September 2021 @ 8.52 a.m. | Judiciary, Legal Profession & Procedure | Legal Research

On 16 February 2021, the Final Report into the review of the Electoral Act (“the Final Report”) was released. In response, the Tasmania Government has released draft legislation in order to consult on the possibility of introducing a political donations disclosure scheme.

The two draft Bills currently open for consultation are:

  • the Draft Electoral Disclosure and Funding Bill 2021 (Tas) ('the Draft Electoral Disclosure Bill'); and
  • the Draft Electoral Matters (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2021 (Tas) ('the Draft Electoral Matters Bill').

Submissions for the draft Bills can be found on the Tasmanian Department of Justice Website.

Review of the Electoral Act 2004

On 3 May 2018, Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman announced that the Government would undertake a review into the Electoral Act 2004 (Tas) and other associated election laws. This was in order to determine if the legislation was still relevant in light of changes in technology and social media, and if it was still in line with community expectations.

The Final Report summarised that the Terms of Reference included:

  1. "Modernising the current Tasmanian Electoral Act, with specific examinations of sections including section 191(1)(b), 196(1) and 198(1)(b);
  2. Whether state-based disclosure rules should be introduced, and, if so, what they should include; and
  3. The level of regulation of third parties, including Unions, during election campaigns."

The Final Report made 11 recommendations in total. The Tasmanian Government has accepted in principle, all the recommendations made in the Final Report.

Overview of the Draft Legislation

The Draft Electoral Disclosure Bill proposes the implementation of recommendations 1 and 2 of the final report. These recommendations primarily seek to modernise the current electoral legislation. Key changes proposed in this Draft Bill include a new definition of “electoral matter” and changes to the requirements for authorisations of electoral matter.

The Draft Electoral Matters Bill seeks to implement recommendations 3 to 11 of the Final Report. These recommendations relate to matters concerning the potential of having disparate state-based disclosure rules and the potential regulation of third parties during election campaigns.

Comment on the Draft Legislation

Speaking generally on the draft Bills, Tasmanian Minister for Justice Elise Archer said in an August Media Release:

“This will increase transparency while ensuring that the public continues to have confidence in the outcomes of elections into the future, and importantly, will bring Tasmania in line with other jurisdictions which have state-based requirements for the disclosure of political donations and expenditure.”

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[Draft] Electoral Disclosure and Funding Bill 2021 (Tas) and supporting materials available from TimeBase's LawOne Service

[Draft] Electoral Matters (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2021 (Tas) and supporting materials available from TimeBase's LawOne Service

Media Release: New legislation to set up Tasmania’s donation disclosure scheme open for public consultation (Tasmanian Minister for Justice Elise Archer, 24 August 2021)

Electoral Act Review Final Report (Tasmanian Government, February 2021)

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