Democracy and Anti-Corruption

Principles:

The Greens NSW believe that:

1. Parliament should reflect the diversity of New South Wales society;

2. All citizens who have the right to vote should have every opportunity to do so; 

3. The electoral system should be free, transparent, democratic and accessible to all. We must ensure every vote is counted and of equal value.

4. Information and education should be provided to help citizens better understand how to make their voices heard in government processes and how the electoral system works.

5. To discourage corruption, government processes and decision-making should be democratic, participatory and transparent. 

6. New South Wales should have a head of state who represents the people of New South Wales, not a foreign monarch;

7. A strong and egalitarian democracy requires all people to be treated equitably, which may require positive measures, and all people to have equitable access to the processes of government.”

8. Democratic government requires the full accountability of ministers and public administration to parliament, citizens and the courts, including full transparency on decision making processes.

9. Elections for all levels of government should be managed by an independent public authority and adequately funded by government. 

10. Pork-barrelling is unethical and harmful to democracy, as is the making of untrue or misleading claims by elected politicians or political candidates. Both should be stamped out. Pork-barrelling is defined as the deliberate partisan use of public money to provide a benefit to the political party making the decision over and above the public interest. 

11. Participation in democracy should not be limited to voting in elections. There must be a commitment to empowering individuals and other organisations to participate in and direct decisions affecting their lives, including in their workplaces and local communities;

12. Corruption and influence peddling corrode democracy by destroying public confidence and undermining belief in the ability of government and the political process to act for the common good. They also inflict costs on people, the environment and the economy;

13. The NSW Legislative Council should function as an effective and independent house of review;

14. The NSW Parliament should function as an effective and independent check and balance on the executive;

15. Transparency in funding and lobbying activities is essential to democracy;

16. Government policies, election outcomes and political decision-making must be, and must be seen to be, independent of donations or favours including from the private and non-government sectors;

17. Money must not determine government decision making at the expense of the public interest;

18. Democratic representation relies on an election funding system that provides access to the public debate for a diversity of voices regardless of the amount of money or party influence they can deploy;

19. Capping electoral expenditure will reduce the demand for political donations and associated influence buying;

20. The integrity of democracy and the public interest are best protected by tightly regulating and limiting political donations to citizens or permanent residents of Australia;

21. A national electoral funding, expenditure and disclosure regime, based on best practice and with as much uniformity as possible across jurisdictions, is necessary to avoid loopholes that undermine the NSW legislation;

22. Voter submission laws (such as Voter ID Laws) are anti-democratic and place barriers to people without fixed residence, or who lack access to full official identity documentation;

23. The separation of government and the private sector should include restrictions on retiring members of parliament (MPs) in their subsequent work;

24. All citizens should have equal access to and influence on political decision making, government policy and election outcomes;

25. The governance of New South Wales should be fully secular; Constitutional provisions that separate church and state and protect freedom of religion and belief benefit people of all beliefs;

Aims:

The Greens NSW will work towards:

26. Implementing Proportional Representation in the Legislative Assembly through a system of multi-member electorates;

27. Requiring all local government elections to use proportional representation;

28. Recognising local government in the NSW and Australian Constitutions;

29. Reforming the Legislative Council electoral system, with the election of Members of the Legislative Council for a four-year instead of eight-year term;

30. Maintaining fixed four-year terms for the NSW Parliament;

31. Australia becoming a republic and, in the interim, reviewing the reserve powers of the Governors of Australia and NSW and working towards codifying those powers;

32. Increasing support for civics education in NSW schools;

33. Extending the right to vote to all citizens aged between 16 and 18;

34. The formation of citizens' assemblies to provide direction to the parliament and local governments on contentious issues.

35. All delegated legislation (ie legislation made by ministers) made disallowable by either chamber of parliament.

36. Legislating “Truth in Political Advertising’ Laws” to apply to all claims made by candidates during elections and by elected members of parliament.

37. Complaints about ‘Truth in political advertising’ laws investigated by ICAC or an independent fact-checking authority.

38. Ensuring that individuals retain the right to make small donations to parties and candidates, subject to a cap per individual per annum.

39. Implementing a system where:

  1. A donor and a political party are each obliged to immediately declare all donations from the donor once the total exceeds $1,000 in any one financial year and that information is placed on a public website maintained by the electoral commission within one week of receipt, and
  2. Change to: electoral expenditure by political parties, candidates or elected representatives of $1000 or more be disclosed on a public website maintained by the electoral commission within one week of receipt;

40. Requiring political parties and candidates to certify and declare for each donation over $1,000 they receive that:

  1. It is legal within the electoral laws,
  2. Its ultimate source; and that that person or entity is legally entitled to donate,
  3. The purpose for which it has been received (being a local, state or federal election, and in the case of the former, the identity of the local government area) and that it has been deposited into the account for that purpose;

41. A ban on campaign donations from:

  1. All for-profit corporations and other business entities,
  2. Representative bodies of for-profit corporations and other business entities,
  3. Organisations and trusts that receive donations from any of the above for the purposes of political activities,
  4. Organisations and trusts that are established by or predominantly supported by any of the above, and
  5. Otherwise legal donors or organisations that have received funds from any other organisation or person for the purpose of making a donation;

42. Prohibiting campaign spending by for-profit corporations, business entities and their industry groups.

43. Maintaining the ban on all political donations from companies that profit from property development, tobacco, alcohol and gambling and their directors and other close associates;

44. Extending the ban on political donations to include companies, their close associates and industry representative groups involved in:

  1. Mining, petroleum and gas exploration and extraction,
  2. Companies that are currently involved in government contracts or are intending to bid for government contracts in the next 4 years,
  3. Registered clubs and other not-for-profit gambling entities, and
  4. All other industry sectors that pose a significant specific risk of corruption or damage to the public interest;

45. Ban any prohibited donors from participating as third party campaigners during elections; 

46. Requiring each political donation from not-for-profit organisations including unions to be:

  1. Approved by a decision-making body that is elected by the membership,
  2. Fully disclosed to all members of that organisation, and
  3. Within the relevant donation caps;

47. Maintaining regulation and limits on spending by third-party organisations on advertising and other electoral communication specifically for the purposes of promoting a party or candidate

48. Donation caps in NSW legislation to be maintained and to include donations made for federal elections.

49. Allowing uncapped and untied bequests.

50. Ensuring adequate public funding of state election campaigns to reduce reliance on donations;

51. A system of public funding of party administration expenses but changing it to a fairer system based on the number of votes a party received in the last relevant federal or state election; 

52. Ensuring small parties without parliamentary representation have access to appropriate levels of public funding;

53. Prohibiting payment of a party's or a candidate's electoral expenses or electoral advertising expenses by entities other than identified, registered political parties or candidates or their authorised agents;

54. Capping electoral expenditure caps to levels that allow candidates and political parties to communicate their message to the electorate while not unfairly advantaging candidates and parties with greater financial resources;

55. Treating as a pecuniary interest, subject to a conflict of interest test, all donations to political parties, candidates or elected representatives;

56. Prohibiting Members of Parliament from receiving non-campaign donations from prohibited donors or anonymous sources. All non-campaign donations over $1000 must be disclosed. 

57. Requiring all MPs to declare the financial affairs of:

  1. Their partners,
  2. Any children or other relatives with whom they have a beneficial financial relationship, and
  3. Any trusts that might provide a benefit to the MP or their family members

58. Subjecting all MPs and their partners and family members with whom they have a beneficial financial relationship to unexplained wealth tests;

59. Introducing legislation for a compulsory and enforceable code of conduct for retiring MPs in relation to their subsequent employment;

60. Strengthening existing cooling-off periods so that ministers, ministerial staff, parliamentary secretaries and senior bureaucrats are prohibited for a period of four years from working in or obtaining a benefit from industries over which they had exerted regulatory influence.

61. While recognising that lobbying by professional lobbyists and lobbying companies creates specific influence-peddling risks, broadening the definition of lobbying to include all meetings between:

  1. Ministers, their staff, parliamentary secretaries, or senior bureaucrats, and
  2. Any professional lobbyist or any person or representative of an entity seeking to gain financial benefit or material advantage;

62. Extending the existing lobbying regulations to include shadow ministers; 

63. Prohibiting members of Parliament from undertaking paid lobbying of their colleagues; 

64. Prohibiting members of Parliament from accepting commissions from property developers; 

65. Strengthening existing NSW lobbying law and regulations in accordance with the provisions of this policy;

66. Maintaining the existing legislated ban on success fees in lobbying;

67. Legislating a ban on party officials, former ministers and ministerial staffers becoming professional lobbyists or engaging in lobbying activities in areas covered by their former portfolio for a period of four years from leaving office;

68. Banning pay-per-view and pay-for-access fundraising events; 

69. Creating an Integrity Commissioner with responsibility for investigating potential breaches of the laws relating to lobbying and MPs’ personal finances, prosecuting minor matters, and referring others to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC);

70. Creating greater transparency of all lobbying activities of ministers, their staff, parliamentary secretaries or senior bureaucrats by both professional and inhouse lobbyists, by:

  1. Requiring all meetings with lobbyists and others seeking personal or corporate benefits to:
    1. Occur in an official location,
    2. Be attended by at least three public officials,
    3. Be minuted, including details of who is present, what was discussed, and what outcomes were obtained from the meeting
  2. Minuting all phone calls with lobbyists,
  3. Indexing the minutes by topic and participants, with the index being placed on a public website that is searchable,
  4. Disclosing the decisions and other details of the minutes except where there is an overriding public interest against disclosure, the decision to not disclose is to be open to challenge,
  5. Empowering the Integrity Commissioner, in all instances where public access to details of lobbying activities is denied due to confidentiality or commercial-in-confidence reasons, to assess the validity of the determination in the first instance and if access is denied subsequently, allowing appeal to the NSW Supreme Court;

71. Establishing a new funding model for the ICAC to ensure its independence from the Executive government;

72. Moving for a referendum to enshrine the powers, funding and scope of ICAC in the state constitution, with any change that would weaken or reduce the capacities of ICAC requiring a two-thirds majority of both houses of parliament;

73. Better protect whistle-blowers who disclose to the ICAC from criminal, civil or disciplinary liability;

74. Reviewing the operations of the NSW Electoral Commission and maintaining an enhanced audit function to monitor compliance by political parties and candidates, and increasing funding for this purpose;

75. Best practice community involvement, including the publishing all non-confidential submissions and providing a report on how the issues have been addressed. 

76. Enhancing the recognition of Australia's First Nations peoples and the role they have played in the history of this state including removing the vestiges of New South Wales' British colonial and imperial past;

77. Moving for a referendum to insert provisions into the NSW constitution to create Rights of Nature.

78. Moving for a referendum to insert provisions into the NSW constitution to separate church and state, protect the practice of religion and personal conviction, and ensure that New South Wales is constitutionally a secular state.

79. Banning real estate agents and developers from being eligible to stand as a local government candidate or to sit as a Councillor.

80. Extending the anti-corruption, funding and donations provisions applying to local government, to include:

  1. Extending the ban on donations from developers to include all for-profit entities,
  2. A ban on donations from individuals or entities that have had matters considered by that council within the preceding four years,
  3. A ban on donations being made through a third party on behalf of anonymous donors,
  4. Requiring full public disclosure on a public website of all donations within one week of their receipt where the total amount provided by that donor exceeds $1,000 in that financial year,
  5. Instituting a fair system of public funding of council elections and maintain caps on spending by candidates and parties,
  6. Requiring full public disclosure of any lobbying of councillors, mayors and council staff, and
  7. Prohibiting the future employment of councillors and council staff by corporations or individuals that have had matters considered by the relevant council in the preceding four years.

Note: Consistent with the above policy principles and aims, The Greens NSW will only accept donations from individuals in amounts consistent with aim 40