Australian Greens Internal Policy on Donations

The Australian Greens (AG), as a party committed to enhancing Australia’s democratic process, will pursue the model of publicly funded elections at all levels of government. Publicly funded elections would promote more equitable access and reduce the risk of corruption through donations.

In the current situation where donations, including gifts-in-kind as defined by the Australian Electoral Commission, are used by parties throughout the political cycle, AG, using transparent practices, will accept donations, subject to ethical review.

This Bylaw relates to donations from individuals and from legal entities.

In accordance with the above AG will –

  • Ensure that where any donor’s cumulative donations to AG total $1,500 or more within a twelve month period their donations are reviewed by the AG Donations Reference Group (DRG).
  • Seek to ensure that the values and aspirations of all donors are not inconsistent with those encapsulated in the policies and the Charter of the Australian Greens.
  • Accept donations only for supporting the aims of the Party.
  • Seek to ensure that no donation be accepted or retained if it gives rise to or is likely to give rise to a conflict of interest as defined below.
  • In negotiations with donors, the relevant campaign committee or other relevant body of the AG may enter into agreements with donors about expenditure in accordance with campaign or party priorities.
  • Ensure that federally elected Greens representatives, federal preselection candidates, endorsed candidates for a federal election and members of the Greens do not solicit or accept personally any donation to be used for activities on behalf of the Party or to advance the member's standing within the Party including campaigning or fundraising, unless granted an exemption by the Donations Reference Group. Donations instead will be directed to AG, a State party or a local group.
  • Maintain transparency in donor identity by making public at the end of each three month period all donors and the cumulative total of their donations to AG over the previous twelve month period where those cumulative totals amount to $1,500 or more.
  • Ensure that donations rejected as a result of this bylaw will be returned to the donor at the earliest opportunity.

The acceptance of any donation by AG does not imply endorsement of the activities, undertakings or processes of the donor.

Implementation of this donations bylaw will be overseen by the DRG.

It is the responsibility of the AG Treasurer to monitor all donations received or offered to AG and ensure all donations which are subject to review by the DRG, or may be subject to rejection under this bylaw are promptly referred to the DRG for consideration.

It is the responsibility of any other person receiving an offer of a donation to AG that the offer be referred to the AG Treasurer for possible action under this bylaw prior to the donation being accepted.

Any State may request the AG Treasurer to refer any donation it is aware of having been offered to or received by AG to the DRG for consideration.

Definition of Donation

(from “Funding and Disclosure Handbook for Donors and Third Parties”) 

A disposition of property or provision of a service for which no payment, or an inadequate payment, is received. The term includes cash and non-cash (gift-in-kind) transactions, but does not include commercial transactions or volunteer labour.

(NB. This is a summary and the full AEC definition should be consulted.)

Any loan received by or offered to AG by an individual or entity which is subject to an agreement including conditions that could result in the loan being converted to a donation on occurrence of a particular election result or event will also be subject to this policy.

Definition of Conflict of Interest

 AG adopts the OECD definition of conflict of interest which is:

 A ‘conflict of interest’ involves a conflict between the public duty and the private interests of a public official, in which the public official has private interests which could improperly influence the performance of their official duties and responsibilities.

Public duty. It is the duty of members of The Greens to uphold the Greens Charter and promote our policies. It is the public duty of elected representatives and other officials of The Greens to represent their constituents impartially and act without undue influence in the community interest.

Private interests. Candidates, elected representatives and other officials of The Greens are the beneficiaries of political donations directly or to the Party and hence have a private interest in those donations. They could be, or could be reasonably perceived to be, influenced by donations (and a desire to maintain them) in the conduct of their public duties. In general larger donations have a greater potential to give rise to the perception of a conflict of interest.

Conflict. Conflict arises where decisions are actually, potentially or perceived to be made against the public interest and/or duty as a result of private interests.

In addition, a conflict of interest exists if the donor is likely to receive a material benefit from a reasonably foreseeable decision that could be made by the Party or an elected Green, unless such benefit is likely to occur as a result of the donor being a member of such a broad class of beneficiary that their individual benefit is not readily identifiable or known or distinguishable from other members of that class. A conflict of interest also still exists where a donation is received from a third party or associated entity related to the individual or entity where the conflict of interest originates. Useful reading: Independent Commission Against Corruption, Crime and Misconduct Commission (2004) Managing conflicts of interest in the public sector. Guidelines.

(last amended by National Conference November 2011)