SUBMISSION TO THE INQUIRY INTO THE ELECTORAL LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (ELECTORAL FUNDING AND DISCLOSURE REFORM) BILL 2017
Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017
Universities Australia welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters inquiry into the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017. Universities Australia is the peak body for Australia’s 39 comprehensive universities, which educate more than a million students and undertake research to add to the stock of advanced knowledge that has been valued at more than $160 billion.
Universities are mindful of the need to support an appropriate legislative framework to maintain national security and the integrity of the Australian polity, and note the Government’s intention to prevent undue and illegitimate interference in Australia’s democratic processes. However, Universities Australia has two principal concerns relating to the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017: firstly, that it impinges on academic freedom and has the potential to stifle the valuable contributions that university research makes to the Australian community, and secondly that it could compromise the ability of Australia’s universities to develop a philanthropic culture in Australia.
Universities Australia is also concerned that the implementation of these proposed measures appears to be proceeding with undue haste and should be delayed until a more substantial consultation process is undertaken.