IBAC Insights (newsletter)

IBAC calls for improvements to Victoria's donation and lobbying regulations

IBAC's Special report on corruption risks associated with donations and lobbying sets out recommendations for significant improvements to be made to Victoria's donations and lobbying regulations across both state and local government.


The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) has tabled a special report in Parliament today highlighting the corruption risks associated with donations and lobbying and warning how they could affect the fairness of decisions and lead to corruption.

IBAC's Special report on corruption risks associated with donations and lobbying sets out recommendations for significant improvements to be made to Victoria’s donations and lobbying regulations across both state and local government.

IBAC Commissioner, the Honourable Robert Redlich AM KC, said the recommendations aimed to increase transparency and protect against improper influence in political decision making and would move Victoria into line with other states.

"Donations and lobbying can be used to gain privileged access to decision-makers, which can pose a corruption risk where there is the perception of a favour to be returned to the benefit of an individual or entity, rather than decisions being made to serve the best interests of the community.

"Lobbying regulations must be transparent and hold both lobbyists and decision-makers to account in order to protect the public interest. They do not currently do that.

"If nothing is done, the corruption risks around lobbying are not only real but imminent. We must protect the community, as well as elected officials, from these corruption risks," Commissioner Redlich said.

Just as importantly, political donations must be transparent with effective measures in place to deter political parties and their supporters from exploiting loopholes to camouflage inflated contributions.

At the state government level, Victoria's current rules on political donations do not place any limit on expenditure, meaning Victoria is one of only three Australian states in which there is no electoral campaign spending cap. While at the local government level, there is no requirement for donors to make a declaration of any kind, and the details of any donations received and declared by candidates are held locally by each council.

The special report makes several recommendations for donations and lobbying reform at the state and local government level, including a review of the existing regulatory regime, and for constraints to be put in place to limit the disproportionately privileged access some lobbyists have to decision-makers.

Other key recommendations include election campaign expenditure being declared and capped; fundraising events, third party campaigners and in-kind donations to be more tightly controlled; and the establishment of a central authority to manage all donation reporting for local government.

IBAC also recommends that a public register of lobbyist activities is maintained and that there is greater transparency around when ministers meet with lobbyists.

"It's important the recommendations from this report are released now because there is a clear need to address the systemic corruption vulnerabilities associated with donations and lobbying. As well, activities associated with the upcoming election, and an imminent independent review of the 2018 Electoral Act reforms, will both benefit from the learnings and recommendations in this report," Commissioner Redlich said.


Media contact: media@ibac.vic.gov.au or 0427 480 840

About IBAC
IBAC is Victoria's agency responsible for preventing and exposing public sector corruption and police misconduct. To report corruption or misconduct now, visit www.ibac.vic.gov.au/report or call 1300 735 135.