Bendigo MP Lisa Chesters and protestors in a ‘Speak Up for Democracy’ demonstration. Photo: ANDREW PERRYMAN

BENDIGO’s federal MP told local charities and concerned citizens a new Bill is a step too far at a gathering in the Hargreaves Mall yesterday.

Lisa Chesters said “enough is enough” in response to the government’s proposed donation legislation which may stifle charities and advocacy groups.

Late last year the government introduced The Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017 to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act.

However, Ms Chesters said the Bill goes much further than banning foreign donations to political parties.

“Over the past month my office and I have received hundreds of phone calls, emails and faxes from worried constituents and representatives from the not-for-profit sector who believe this Bill is an attack on all charities,” she said.

“The legislation places further disclosure requirements on political campaigning entities, and potentially captures third parties such as charities, not-for-profit groups, advisory bodies and churches.

“There are parts of this Bill which seek to shut down public debate and to silence the very organisations that hold our political leaders to account. This is wrong.”

Ms Chesters said if passed with no amendments, the Bill is an attack on Australia’s civil society.

“This Bill would be bad for democracy. Labor will not let the government silence legitimate political debate,” she said.

“We will not let the government silence organisations seeking to make legitimate contributions, especially organisations in Bendigo and central Victoria.”