WikiLeaks party flirts with Oz law by taking Bitcoin gifts
Secret political donations not allowed in Oz, no matter what 'currency' you use
Any hope Australian 'net libertarians might harbour that the crypto-currency Bitcoin somehow dodges electoral donation rules is a delusion.
The debate has been sparked by the Wikileaks Party, the only high-profile party in Australia to accept Bitcoin for donations (it can't be called a “major” party yet, since this is its first election and it will probably struggle to reach the quotas needed to win Senate seats).
Australia's electoral rules are quite clear, the AEC told The Register "... donations to political parties have to be recorded and disclosed. If the gift is greater than the disclosure threshold, currently $AUD12,100, the donor has to be reported to the Australian Electoral Commission (which will then publish the data in its disclosure report).
So if some benefactor wants to make an anonymous donation to the Wikileaks Party big enough to (for example) give it serious advertising muscle – no dice. Only donations below the threshold can remain private.
There is one extra sting in the tail for Bitcoin hopefuls. As the legislation notes, parties must:
“... furnish to the Electoral Commission a return, in an approved form, setting out the total amount or value of all gifts, the number of persons who made gifts, and the relevant details of each gift, received by the person during the disclosure period for the election” (emphasis added).
Vulture South can't claim crypto-currency expertise, but wonders idly whether the Bitcoins pose any challenges for a party trying to comply with that phrase. ®