Ben Morton urges MPs and staffers to actively report 'activist organisations' - including Voices Of - after donor reforms

Ben Morton has flagged a crackdown on 'activist' donor groups, including the Voices Of movement. Picture: Jamila Toderas
Ben Morton has flagged a crackdown on 'activist' donor groups, including the Voices Of movement. Picture: Jamila Toderas

A government minister is urging colleagues to help unmask secret donors as part of a crackdown on "activist organisations" - including the Voices Of movement - as independents target marginal seats at the federal election.

In an email sent to all parliamentarians and staff on Monday, Special Minister of State Ben Morton provided a template to report groups to the Australian Electoral Commission.

He called for "active support" in reporting organisations which "could even slightly" run afoul of new political donation laws, making explicit reference to the Voices Of movement and Climate 200.

The groups are targeting marginal Coalition seats at the next election, demanding stronger action on climate change.

The email came after the federal government rushed electoral donation through Parliament last month, expanding the number of organisations which need to make their donors public.

Mr Morton claimed the development will "strengthen the integrity" of Australia's electoral system, calling for parliamentarians and their staff to seek out groups which could be affected.

"I seek your active support to identify potentially affected stakeholders to the AEC," he wrote.

"This isn't about stopping organisations from being able to advocate. This is about transparency for organisations trying to influence voters in an election."

The Coalition is under pressure from independents like Helen Haines. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

The Coalition is under pressure from independents like Helen Haines. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

The Coalition has claimed the Voices Of movement, which is backing independent candidates in multiple Liberal-held seats, is a front for the Labor Party and the Greens.

Mr Morton said organisations will have 90 days to register, as "will any Voices Of groups that meet the criteria".

"If you are aware of any organisations that could even slightly meet this criteria then I ask you to assist the AEC in identifying them," he wrote.

Mr Morton also made reference to Climate 200, a fund aimed at supporting candidates in support of climate action.

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The group includes independent MP Helen Haines, former Liberal MP Julia Banks, and former Liberal leader John Hewson among others.

Ms Haines in November slammed the government for rushing through the bill without giving the crossbench adequate time to consider it.

The independent, an advocate for stronger government transparency, said she supported the bill before the government added 35 amendments at four hours notice.

"It's clear the government wants to ram this through the entire Parliament in one day, without any consultation. That's not on," she said.

Under the new laws, groups will be required to register as "significant third parties" if they have spent $250,000 in a financial year, or over $14,500 if that accounts for more than a third of their revenue.

Groups which operate for the "dominant purpose" of raising more than that amount for political donations will also need to register.

The laws also broadened the definition of political expenditure to include any spending "incurred in relation to an election".

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This story Dob in a donor: Govt flags crackdown on 'activist organisations' first appeared on The Canberra Times.