Compared to other Australian states, Tasmania has weaker political donation laws, less government transparency and limited public accountability.
Most other Australian states restructured their accountability mechanisms following a public corruption scandal. Tasmania has endured comparable scandals, but the response has been less robust.
In 2009, following increasing pressure for government transparency, the then Bartlett Labor government introduced a number of reforms including the creation of the Tasmanian Integrity Commission (TIC) and a Right to Information (RTI) framework.
In the following decade, the TIC has never held an inquiry using all of its investigative powers, meaning that it has made no misconduct findings or held any public hearings. The Australia Institute was unable to find any evidence of cases being referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). The jurisdiction of the TIC is also more limited than the analogous integrity commissions of some other states: it cannot investigate persons who are not public servants or members of parliament.
Tasmania does not have state-level political donation laws. Only federal laws apply, meaning that there is no obligation to report donations below $13,500 nor an obligation to report direct donations to political candidates at all. Unlike some other states, there are no bans on donations from particular industries such as property developers or the gaming industry, no ban on foreign donations and no caps on election expenditure.
This report recommends that the government undertake significant rather than piecemeal reform in 2021 to ensure the people of Tasmania have confidence in their democracy and their elected officials.