Research Australia challenges Electoral Reform Bill

Research Australia has made a submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017, arguing that the regulatory burden the Bill will impose on research organisations that engage in public comment on Government decisions, programs and legislation is unwarranted.

In particular, Research Australia has focused on the definition of ‘political expenditure’ in the Bill, which could include activities such as responding to Government reviews and inquiries, and the fact that the Bill will capture research grants from overseas funding bodies as ‘gifts’ that need to be monitored in relation to political expenditure.

Research Australia’s submission on the Electoral Funding and Disclosure Bill

The Inquiry received many submissions from charities and other organisations about the  Bill. On 9 April 2018 the Committee released its report, recommending that several parts of the Bill be reconsidered and amended by the Government. The report is available from the Committee’s website here. The Government has yet to respond. Research Australia will continue to monitor developments.

Inquiry into Tax Deductibility

The House of Representatives Economics Committee invited Research Australia to make a submission to its inquiry into Tax Deductibility. The Inquiry’s terms of reference from the Treasurer are to investigate broadening the tax base and lowering the tax rate by identifying existing tax deductions that can be removed. Research Australia’s submission addressed the question of fairness when considering the removal of tax deductions that are of particular importance to some groups of taxpayers, and the use of deductions to provide incentives for particular expenditures. Research Australia’s submission focused on the tax deduction for self education expenses (important to the many researchers who are responsible for their own ongoing education) and the tax deductibility of donations to charities, including many not for profit health and medical research organisations.

Inquiry into Tax Deductibility

Including donations to H&MR in eligibility for business VISAs

Austrade has undertaken a two stage consultation on the eligible complying investments for individuals seeking a visa under the Investor Visa Programme. In the first round in late 2014, Research Australia advocated for donations to health and medical research to be included in the definition of complying investments. Austrade has included this proposal in the second round consultation for the new Premium Investment Visa, which requires a total investment of $15 million. Disappointingly, it has not supported the same inclusion for the existing Significant Investor Visa. In the two year period from the introduction of the Investor Visa Program to December 2014, nearly $3 billion in investments was made under the program and a further $3 billion was pending. Securing even a small proportion of this as donations to health and medical research could be a significant benefit to the heath and medical research sector.

Research Australia has argued in our second round submission for some refinements to the proposal and for its extension to Significant Investor Visas as well as Premium Investor visas.

Donations to H&MR for business VISAs

Significant investor visas and philanthropy

Austrade has undertaken a consultation on the eligible complying investments for individuals seeking a visa under the Investor Visa Programme. Research Australia has proposed that donations to heath and medical research be included in the definition of complying investments.

Significant Investor Visa and Premium Investor Visa Programmes