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Lost Freedoms

Meg Pickup, Ballina

The Turnbull government has oppressive legislation intended to constrain the work of charities and weaken our democracy. The Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill was altered at the last minute to exclude charities following extensive community pressure.

Charities’ ability to hold the government to account is now limited by the Espionage and Foreign Interference Bill. For example if it were reported internationally that charities had alleged the government were downplaying the impact a domestic policy had on global commitments such as emissions reduction targets or processing asylum seekers these charities could face espionage charges.

The Foreign Donations Bill (or Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) could silence charities that speak out and impose onerous administrative paperwork thus limiting charities’ fundraising abilities and expose charities to severe penalties for non-compliance (10 years imprisonment and civil penalties of up to $210,000). What is the Australian government frightened of that they propose legislation designed to silence dissent–the hallmark of a robust democracy? Lost freedoms are difficult to regain.


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