How Susan McDonald voted compared to someone who believes that the federal government should introduce restrictions to the amount and type of donations that political parties can receive in order to prevent corruption or the appearance of corruption in government

Division Susan McDonald Supporters vote Division outcome

4th Feb 2021, 12:47 PM – Senate Motions - Donations to Political Parties - Lower disclosure threashold

Show detail

The majority voted against a motion introduced by Queensland Senator Larissa Waters (Greens), which means it failed.

Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes that the total amount of money donated to political parties, as disclosed to the Australian Electoral Commission, tripled between the 2016 election and the 2019 election; and

(b) supports:

(i) lowering the disclosure threshold for donations to political parties,

(ii) requiring more timely disclosure of donations to political parties, and

(iii) imposing caps on the amount that donors can donate to political parties.

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

3rd Sep 2020, 10:17 AM – Senate Electoral Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2020 - in Committee - Restrict political donations

Show detail

The majority voted against a motion introduced by Queensland Senator Larissa Waters (Greens), which means it failed. Senator Waters explained her amendment:

There are three elements to this amendment. Firstly, it redefines 'gift' to include party memberships and to include subscriptions to various different party forums. I will come back to that. Essentially, that refers to pay-for-access meetings—the lobster luncheons. It then bans completely donations from a number of industries that have a long history of seeking undue influence in return for political donations. That list is property developers, banks, tobacco, alcohol, gambling, big mining, defence and big pharma. The Greens think that those industries should not be able to donate one cent because they have a sordid history of seeking influence as a result of making those donations. Lastly—and this is perhaps the most important reform—we would like to see donations from everybody else, no matter whether you're an individual, on organisation or a corporation, capped at $1,000 a year or $3,000 for a three-year term, which, obviously, works out to $1,000 a year. That is a constitutional way of ensuring that people can still support causes that they believe in, but it makes sure that you can't buy undue influence and seek to have policies made to address your personal needs or to address and boost your personal corporate profits. We want to see big money out of politics entirely, and this is how you do it. You bring in public funding. You cap spending and, importantly, you cap donations and you stop donations from those industries that have long sought undue influence over decision-makers.

absent Yes Not passed by a modest majority

2nd Sep 2020, 7:21 PM – Senate Electoral Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2020 - in Committee - Reform donation arrangements

Show detail

The majority voted against amendments introduced by Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie (Jacqui Lambie Network), which means they were unsuccessful.

While outlining the Greens Party's support for the bill, Queensland Senator Larissa Waters (Greens) explained some aspects of these amendments:

The Greens will be supporting this amendment which has a series of features within it. It lowers the disclosure threshold, which we support, as we've discussed already on this bill ... my understanding is that this amendment would impose a threshold of disclosure of $2,500, but that's a damn sight less than $14,300. I understand that this now also has some changes to the time frame for disclosure. As I said earlier today, at the minute you need to disclose only once a year, on 1 February, and because of the time lag between calendar years and financial years it can be up to 19 months before it's put in the public domain as to which donor donated to which political party. That is so far beneath what is a transparent and accountable approach to disclosure ... These amendments would have, on my reading of them, a six-month disclosure time frame—which, again, is not quite as rigorous as the Greens would like, but it is still better than the current rules. So, on that basis, we support that element, because it's an improvement.

I understand that there are also some provisions in this amendment that go to anonymous donations. They've long been discussed, because it's a balance between the administrative burden we place on donors and political parties and the need for the public to know who's paying whom. There have long been recommendations for a cap of between $50 and $500 on anonymous donations. And when I say 'anonymous', the example often used is buying a raffle ticket at a party function, so it's not anything that's necessarily nefarious, as 'anonymous' might imply; it's merely those smaller amounts of casual support that many people express and that aren't of a significant amount that would exert an undue influence.

Again, my understanding of these amendments is that they lower that threshold to $500. The Greens would like to see it lower than that. We've pegged it at $50 but, on the basis that this proposed threshold is at least an improvement on our current laws, we will be supporting that as well.

absent Yes Not passed by a modest majority

2nd Sep 2020, 6:42 PM – Senate Electoral Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2020 - in Committee - Lower disclosure threshold

Show detail

The majority voted against amendments introduced by Queensland Senator Larissa Waters (Greens), which means they failed.

Senator Waters explained her amendments:

The effect of these amendments would be to reduce the federal disclosure threshold of political donations down to $1,000. It was originally $13,500 but it's indexed, so at the moment you can donate just shy of $14,300 to a federal political party for a federal purpose and you don't need to tell anybody about it; it's absolutely opaque. Donations just shy of the disclosure threshold are routinely made, and the public doesn't have the ability to hear about them. This amendment would repeat many amendments over the years that many experts and, in fact, other political parties have moved to reduce that threshold of disclosure down to $1,000.

Amendment text

(1) Schedule 1, page 3 (after line 8), after item 1, insert:

1A Subsection 287(1) (definition of disclosure threshold )

Omit "$13,800", substitute "$1,000".

1B Subsection 287(1) (note to the definition of disclosure threshold )

Repeal the note.

(2) Schedule 1, page 9 (after line 6), after item 26, insert:

26A After subsection 305A(1A)


(1B) An amount prescribed for the purposes of paragraph (1)(b) or (1A)(b) must not be more than the disclosure threshold.

(3) Schedule 1, items 32 and 33, page 11 (lines 11 to 17), omit the items, substitute:

32 Section 321A

Repeal the section.

absent Yes Not passed by a modest majority

2nd Sep 2020, 11:29 AM – Senate Electoral Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2020 - Second Reading - Amend donation laws

Show detail

The same number of senators voted for and against an amendment introduced by South Australian Senator Don Farrell, which means it didn't gain a majority and therefore failed. The amendment would have amended the usual second reading motion, which is "that the bill be read a second time." Reading a bill for a second time is the same as agreeing with the main idea of the bill.

Amendment text

At the end of the motion, add:

", but the Senate:

(a) is of the opinion that Australia's electoral system would be strengthened by:

(i) lowering the disclosure threshold for political donations from the current $14,300 to $1,000,

(ii) removing the indexation of the political donation disclosure threshold, and

(iii) requiring recipients of political donations to disclose those donations within seven days;

(b) notes that the Opposition has introduced the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Transparency Measures – Lowering the Disclosure Threshold) Bill 2019 and the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Transparency Measures – Real Time Disclosure) Bill 2019, which, if enacted, would achieve these outcomes;

(c) calls on the Government to support these bills; and

(d) is also of the opinion that Australia's electoral system would be further strengthened by:

(i) implementing caps on political donations and electoral expenditure,

(ii) increasing the rate of public funding concurrently with the implementation of these caps, to reduce the reliance of participants in the political process on political fundraising, and

(iii) introducing administrative funding for parties and elected independents to cover administrative and operating expenses".

absent Yes Not passed

3rd Dec 2019, 4:00 PM – Senate Motions - Great Barrier Reef - Climate change

Show detail

The majority voted against a motion introduced by Queensland Senator Larissa Waters (Greens), which means it failed.

Motion text

(a) notes that:

(i) on 1 December 2019, the Federal Government submitted the State Party Report on the state of conservation report of the Great Barrier Reef (the Reef) World Heritage Area,

(ii) the State Party Report responds to the World Heritage Committee Decision in 2015, requesting the Government to outline how the Reef's Outstanding Universal Value is being protected to avert a World Heritage In Danger listing,

(iii) the State Party Report recognises that mass coral bleaching events in 2016 and 2017, tropical cyclones, flooding, and crown-of-thorns starfish have impacted the Outstanding Universal Value of the Reef since 2015,

(iv) the Great Barrier Reef outlook report 2019 found that the long-term outlook for the Reef 's ecosystem has deteriorated from poor to very poor, and climate change and land-based run-off remain the key threats,

(v) the State Party Report states that the Government is 'actively managing the pressures over which we have direct control through investment and regulation based on the best available science',

(vi) United Nations scientific reports have confirmed that if global temperature rises by 1.5°C, 90% of coral in the Reef will be lost and 100% of coral will be lost at 2.0°C,

(vii) the Government has established a Senate inquiry questioning the water science informing regulation of land-based run-off into the Reef,

(viii) Government representatives have advocated for the removal of climate change threats as a consideration for World Heritage In Danger listing decisions, and

(ix) fossil fuel companies have donated nearly $5 million to the Liberals, Nationals and Labor parties over the past four years; and

(b) calls on the Federal Government to:

(i) implement a climate policy to limit global warming to 1.5°C to protect the Great Barrier Reef,

(ii) manage the key pressures over which it has control by revoking all federal approvals for the Adani Carmichael mine and not approve any new coal in Australia, and

(iii) ban corporate donations to political parties from the fossil fuel industry, an industry which financially benefits from this Federal Government's lack of action on climate change.

No Yes Not passed by a large majority

How "voted strongly against" is worked out

The MP's votes count towards a weighted average where the most important votes get 50 points, less important votes get 10 points, and less important votes for which the MP was absent get 2 points. In important votes the MP gets awarded the full 50 points for voting the same as the policy, 0 points for voting against the policy, and 25 points for not voting. In less important votes, the MP gets 10 points for voting with the policy, 0 points for voting against, and 1 (out of 2) if absent.

Then, the number gets converted to a simple english language phrase based on the range of values it's within.

No of votes Points Out of
Most important votes (50 points)      
MP voted with policy 0 0 0
MP voted against policy 0 0 0
MP absent 0 0 0
Less important votes (10 points)      
MP voted with policy 0 0 0
MP voted against policy 2 0 20
Less important absentees (2 points)      
MP absent* 4 4 8
Total: 4 28

*Pressure of other work means MPs or Senators are not always available to vote – it does not always indicate they have abstained. Therefore, being absent on a less important vote makes a disproportionatly small difference.

Agreement score = MP's points / total points = 4 / 28 = 14%.

And then