The Castan Centre for Human Rights Law present

Dr Joo-Cheong Tham

With commentary from Sam McLean of GetUp!

"Money and Politics: Why it matters to human rights"

4 November 2010
Held at Monash University Law Chambers, 472 Bourke Street, Melbourne


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Money politics and its regulation are high on the political agenda. Money politics, however, is not usually perceived as a human rights issue – human rights organisations that have engaged in the debate on money politics are few and far between and even then, such issues are rarely seen as questions of human rights.

This lecture argues that money politics falls squarely within the human rights agenda for three reasons:

  • Progressive realisation of human rights is likely only to take place through democratic political processes; insofar as money politics undermines the democratic integrity of the political process, it is likely to undermine the progressive advancement of human rights;
  • Money politics raises challenging questions for human rights organisations in terms of their funding and use of money to influence the political process;
  • Money politics directly implicates two important rights - freedom of political association and freedom of political expression.

Dr Joo-Cheong Tham is a Senior Lecturer at the Melbourne Law School. He is a leading expert on Australian political finance, having written extensively on this topic in academic publications and newspapers. His book, Money and Politics: The Democracy We Can’t Afford (UNSW Press, 2010) is the most comprehensive treatment to date of money politics in Australia. Joo-Cheong regularly gives expert evidence to parliamentary inquiries into political funding and political parties across the political spectrum have relied upon his research. Joo-Cheong has also undertaken considerable research into counter-terrorism laws and bills of rights, and is presently researching into temporary migrant work and the challenges it poses for labour regulation in Australia.

Sam Mclean is the Communications and Campaigns Director at, an online campaigning movement with over 380,000 members across Australia. Sam began working on democracy reform in 2007 as part of GetUp's campaign against the early closure of rolls under the Electoral Integrity Act 2006. Three years later, he worked on GetUp's high court case that saw closure of rolls legislation ruled unconstitutional. Political donations reform is a high priority for GetUp members this year, and over 45,000 Australians have now joined GetUp's "bucks stop here" campaign to limit political donations.





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