A new national standard for disclosing political donations should be introduced but there will always be a need for state-specific laws, a Tasmanian academic says.
University of Tasmania Professor Richard Eccleston, who last year co-authored a report on campaign finance reform in Tasmania, said in many ways state-level reforms had become necessary because federal campaign disclosure laws were so lax.
"There will always be a need for state-specific laws given our different electoral systems," Dr Eccleston said.
"For example, Tasmania's Hare Clark system where candidates receive individual donations to run their own campaigns means we need both candidate and party-level disclosure."
The Tasmanian government commenced a review of the state's Electoral Act and whether state-based disclosure rules should be implemented in May 2018 but a final report is yet to be released.
Tasmania has the weakest campaign finance laws in the country because it is the only jurisdiction where lower house elections are not subject to a state-level donation disclosure scheme.
Candidate spending in the Legislative Council, however, is capped at $17,000.
Under federal laws, only details of donations to parties and candidates in Tasmania over $13,800 must be disclosed by parties annually and by candidates in their election returns.
The threshold for disclosing donations is lower in other jurisdictions being $5191 in South Australia, $2500 in Western Australia, $1500 in the Northern Territory, and $1000 in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and the ACT as of November 2018.
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NSW currently has a party expenditure cap of about $11 million, South Australia $4 million and the ACT $1 million.
Only NSW and South Australia currently have spending caps in place for individual candidates of $61,500 and $100,000 respectfully.
Dr Eccleston said candidate spending caps were only just being introduced in Australia, excluding in Tasmania's Legislative Council, but international evidence showed they were more effective than donation caps.
"There is a trade-off here and incumbency is a huge advantage," Dr Eccleston said.
"Our view is that $30,000 per candidate is a reasonable compromise based on historic spending in Tasmanian elections.
"It should ensure that a committed challenger can raise their profile but shouldn't be able to benefit from significantly outspending their rivals."