Regulating Money in Democracy: Australia's Political Finance Laws Across The Federation

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned ReportResearch


This report provides a comprehensive overview of the current regulation of political finance laws across the federation. Part I outlines the scope and impetus of this report, which is commissioned by the Electoral Regulation Research Network.

Part II provides an analytical framework of principles for political finance regulation. These principles are: protecting the integrity of representative government, promoting fairness in politics, the principle of transparency, supporting parties in performing their functions, and respecting political freedoms. It also provides regulatory options to promote these principles, such as transparency measures, supply-side measures such as source restrictions which regulate who can make financial contributions; and amount restrictions that limit the sums that can be given, as well as public funding of electoral campaigns.

Part III outlines the history of major legislative changes to electoral legislation at the Commonwealth, State and Territory levels in Australia. Australian jurisdictions have previously had minimal regulation of political finance that was described as laissez faire or “lackadaisical” compared to other major democracies. In recent years, however, several Australian State jurisdictions have undertaken various dynamic political finance reforms that have tightened up the regulatory net, particularly Victoria, NSW and Queensland.

Part IV identifies nine key elements of political finance regulation: disclosure requirements (donations and expenditure), caps on donations, caps on expenditure, indexation, bans on donations from certain sectors, foreign donations bans, political funding streams and funding rates, and enforcement. It examines and classifies these key elements of political finance regulation for all jurisdictions in Australia. It shows that there is a distinct lack of uniformity in the regulation of political finance in Australian jurisdictions at the Commonwealth, State and local government levels in all nine regulatory dimensions.

Part V provides recommendations for law reform and harmonisation across jurisdictions.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationMelbourne Vic Australia
PublisherElectoral Regulation Research Network
Commissioning bodyElectoral Regulation Research Network
Number of pages114
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • political finance
  • regulation
  • federation
  • states
  • territories
  • local government
  • party funding
  • political donations
  • electoral

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