Letter: Assault on our democratic right to express opinion

The Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017 presently under consideration is an assault on our democratic right as Australian citizens to express a political opinion via local or community advocacy organisations.

The proposed legislation, if passed in its present form, would require advocacy organisations to monitor my cumulative donations and, if they exceed a modest $250 annually, require me to procure a statutory declaration witnessed by a JP or a police officer to declare that I am an allowable donor.  This is an unreasonable impost on any citizen.  It just looks like a contrivance to stop the donations happening, or to break select community advocacy organisations.

The severe strictures and administrative difficulties proposed to be imposed on me clearly stifle my implied right of political communication and free speech.  The Bill proposes complex penalties and high fines, even prison, just for expressing a point of view through a community channel.  It favours prominent, entrenched well-funded organisations and wealthy individuals, to the detriment of citizens who otherwise find it difficult to have their voices noticed.

I understand that opposition to this Bill has come from across the political spectrum:  advocacy organisations; service clubs; religious organisations and also charities who could find their advocacy severely constricted and fundraising potential limited.

Be warned, another aspect of democracy is under threat.

John Burman

Port Macquarie

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