Roadside election corflutes should be banned, political donations should be capped at $10,000, and donations from the gambling industry should be scrapped, an ACT committee has recommended.
Permanently opening early polling to every voter for two weeks before polling day and no campaigning on election day were also recommended in the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety’s review of the 2020 ACT election.
The recommendations come off the back of submissions from all three major parties in the ACT, with ACT Labor expressing concern that mobile signage and corflutes were consistently being placed within 100 metres of polling locations and enforcement of campaign laws were scarce.
The Canberra Liberals wanted to continue displaying roadside corflutes during election campaigns, while Labor suggested introducing some restrictions including a permitted number per candidate and reducing the number of locations they could be displayed.
The Greens have consistently called for a ban of corflutes on public land and did not engage in the practice during the 2020 ACT election.
The committee noted the mixed opinions on corflutes and said its recommendation was based off “the proliferation of roadside signs in recent elections and the environmental concerns about mass production of corflutes for use and disposal within a six-week period”.
“Complete prohibition of corflutes is likely to be less burdensome for the Electoral Commission and Transport Canberra and City Services to regulate than greater restrictions,” said the review.
Conflicting opinions were also raised with regards to donation bans for gambling, tobacco and liquor entities and associated bodies. The Liberal Democrats called for the “prohibition of donations from any one group … be abolished”.
The committee said the recommendation is based on similar steps being taken in NSW, which define the above entities as prohibited donors.
The recommendation was welcomed by the Greens, who cited a $100,000 donation from ClubsACT in 2016.
Greens backbencher and the party’s democracy spokesperson, Andrew Braddock, said the committee recommendations support a voter-first approach.
“Integrity, accountability and transparency in politics are vital to a healthy democracy,” he said. “We [need to ensure] democracy is not bought but is instead genuine and equitable.
“We have managed to ban donations from property developers, establish an Integrity Commission, and now we can be hopeful the next ACT election will look significantly different, and better.”
The committee did not agree to investigate lowering the voting age, despite a continued push from the Greens to drop the voting age to 16 in the ACT.