Australian House of Representatives (empty)



What is it?

The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters is a parliamentary committee specifically concerned with laws about elections, the administration of those laws, and the practice of elections. They are effectively a working group, tasked by parliament to run inquiries where they sift through the evidence and competing interests to make recommendations on the issues they’re concerned with.

The committee is made up of cross-party politicians from both the House of Representatives and the Senate. You can find a list of the current committee members here.

After each federal election, the committee is tasked with reviewing a range of matters relating to that election. Using this Terms of Reference, the Committee ran an inquiry into aspects of the 2022 federal election, including campaign finance and other issues identified in our Framework.

Why is it important?

The inquiry, which commenced in mid-2022, has resulted in a report detailing recommendations for reform. The final report was tabled in November 2023 – you can read it here.

If applied properly in legislation, these reforms could expose hidden money in our political system, and tackle dangerous misinformation once and for all.

Unfortunately, we are concerned that some reform areas in the report lack precision – specifically around caps on political donations and electoral campaign spending. 

The report emphasises an intention to “level the playing field” between major parties, smaller parties, independents and new candidates. However, it fails to specify ways in which limits applied to donations and spending should be designed to ensure political parties can’t rig the system in their favour. 

The ALP have indicated they want to legislate the reforms recommended by the inquiry, making this an essential opportunity to shape the agenda for the new Government and win ambitious new laws to get big money out of politics.

You can read out media release on the final JSCEM report here.

Watch the webinar: JSCEM final report

To hear more, watch our the JSCEM final report online briefing here.

In this online briefing hosted by the Australian Democracy Network, we discuss how the report stacks up and what’s next for the #OurDemocracy campaign.

#OurDemocracy engagement

In September 2022, the Committee sought submissions from the community. 317 individuals in our community wrote impactful submissions to the Committee calling for election spending caps to be on the reform agenda, alongside other important reforms like lowering the donations disclosure threshold and real-time donations disclosure.

The campaign submitted our own submission which you can read here.

If you’re interested, you can read all the published submissions to the inquiry here.

Organisations participating in the #OurDemocracy campaign have also been meeting with committee members and other decision-makers to share our reform agenda.

In February 2023, as Australian Electoral Commission released the 2021-2022 financial data for political parties, we used this moment to highlight the need for reform. 639 individuals took action and emailed their decision-makers to ask that the JSCEM report has recommendations.

In June 2023, the Committee released a set of draft recommendations – you can read them here, and our analysis here.