Parliament Updates

Zali Steggall MP speaks on the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Restoring Trust) Bill

07 August 2023


I second the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Restoring Trust) Bill 2023, and I commend the member for Curtin for introducing this important electoral reform legislation. Public trust is key to proper functioning of democracy, and yet the Australia Talks National Survey found some very distressing data: 56 per cent of us agree with the statement that Australian politicians are often corrupt, and 89 per cent of us are confident that most politicians in Australia will lie if they feel the truth will hurt them politically. That is an indictment on the state of affairs, and it shows a profound disillusionment with politicians and the erosion of trust in government. This bill contains 13 provisions aimed at restoring trust in our democracy through building in protections for integrity. These provisions have broad support from across the crossbench and the political spectrum in our communities. They include provisions to stop the lies in political advertising, which I previously advocated for in this place and which should have been in place to protect the referendum. It has the support of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters interim report tabled earlier this year, and the government needs to get moving on this. Making headlines again today are alleged breaches of confidence and public trust by big four consultancies. This time it is KPMG in the media spotlight for overcharging Defence for work not completed. This bill includes measures aimed at ending the close association between businesses that benefit from public sector contracts and members of the government. The big four have donated some $4.3 million to major parties over the past decade. In the same time, they have seen a 400 per cent increase in the value of their government contracts, and we only know 21 per cent of the source of donations to major parties. So there is such a gap there that we need to absolutely claw. We need to restore trust in our democracy and in government. These important reforms—like increasing transparency around political influence, limiting financial influence and levelling the playing field—are what the Australian people are calling for. If the Prime Minister is listening at all to the outcome of the 2022 election and if the Leader of the Opposition is listening at all to the message that came loud and clear from the Australian people: they want better, they want more transparency and they want more integrity.