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Donation Darkness In Australian Island Tasmanian Elections

Tasmania’s political donation laws, considered the weakest in Australia, have resulted in the major parties revealing two donors.

HOBART, Australia — Tasmania’s major parties have disclosed just two campaign donations in an election dubbed the “most transparent” in the state’s history.

The island state’s political donation laws are considered the weakest of any state or territory in the country.

The Liberal government, which aims for a historic third term at Saturday’s poll, had pledged to introduce donation reform but put it on hold with the declaration of the early election.

The Liberals and Labor opposition pledged to voluntarily disclose any donations under AUD 5000 ($3,884) made during the campaign.

Just one donation, AUD 50,000 ($38,848) from Richard Smith, has been made public by the Liberals, while Labor’s sole disclosed donation is AUD 10,000 ($7,769) from Sea Road Holdings.

Tasmania’s disclosure threshold is AUD 14,300 ($11,110), in line with federal requirements. Queensland, meanwhile, has a disclosure threshold of AUD 1000 ($776).

Premier Peter Gutwein has defended setting the voluntary limit at AUD 5000 ($3,884).

“We’ve made a very clear commitment that we’d release donations up to AUD 5000 ($3,884), and that’s exactly what we’ve done,” he said on April 29.

“This is the most transparent election that’s ever been run in Tasmania in terms of donation disclosure.”

Greens leader Cassy O’Connor, whose party has disclosed more than AUD 66,000 ($51,268.11) worth of donations from 14 individuals, lashed the major parties for not being transparent.

“We can see straight through them,” she told reporters.

Premier Peter Gutwein has defended setting the voluntary limit at AUD5000. (Sarah Rhodes/AAP Image)

“They’re trying to hide the vast sources of the bulk of the money that’s come into the Liberal party coffers.”

Labor opposition leader Rebecca White conceded Tasmania has the weakest donation laws in the country but indicated the party was content to match the Liberal Party stance during the campaign.

“There needs to be a level playing field, and we’ve complied with the law, but we acknowledge that it’s not as robust as it needs to be,” she said.

Gutwein said a re-elected Liberal government would act within the first 100 days to introduce legislation around lower thresholds and shorter disclosure timeframes.

The party tweeted, “A re-elected majority Liberal Govt will help support our most vulnerable with an AUD 3.2 million ($2.48 million) investment into our community services sector that will create jobs, address skills shortages in the sector, and ease the cost of living pressures.”

Labor wants laws to ensure all donations over AUD 1,000 ($776) are made public within 30 days.

Recent voter surveys indicate a close election is likely despite the Liberals riding a wave of popularity into the campaign on the back of their coronavirus management. The state election board has launched a website making it easier for all voters to gather all the information about the parties.

(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Praveen Pramod Tewari.)