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Byron Shire
May 9, 2021

Outlaw political donations

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George Lewin, Montecollum

One can only sigh in disbelief at the short-sightedness of the Australian electorate, of our politicians and the sensation and scandal-hungry media.

The eminently sensible proposal to increase the public funding component of political parties looks like being defeated, despite the fact that there are howls of outrage from the electorate, from opposition politicians and the media whenever there is a scandal unearthed of incumbent politicians doing favours for their donors.

In a smarter country, all election campaigns would be funded from the public purse, and all political party donations would be outlawed – from corporations, industry lobby groups, unions, developers and individuals.

That way, politicians might consider the public good rather than the needs or desires of their financial supporters, and end up giving us far better government. Wake up Australia!

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  1. The attempts by the major political parties to suck money from the public purse for the administration of their parties is despicable. If the parties cannot garner sufficient members and donations to support the cost of their administrative and related activities they should go the way of the Dodo bird.

    The only basis on which public funding for the election of our parliamentary and local council representatives should be by way of an explicit amount of funds per candidate to be used and justified as election campaign expenses only, within a time limited period in which the funds can be committed/ expended, say 2 months before and election and 1 week after the election. The auditing of those publicly funded expenses should be audited by the Election Commission or other independent statutory body within 3 months of the election, with the results being displayed publicly on the auditing body’s web-site, without prior review by Parliament. Any candidate or party found fraudulently claiming such election expenses to be reimbursed from public funds should be find at least twice the amount fraudulently claimed.

    Public funds should not be applied to administration of political parties at any time. Funding for political party administration costs should be donation. Each and every donation to a political party and/or a party member to be registered and displayed publicly on the party’s web site within 14 days of receipt. Donation details displayed should include the date of donation, name of donor (if a company or organisation, with the name of the responsible officer) and the amount of the donation. Any party not complying with the disclosure rules should be fined twice the amount of the errant donation. Donation auditing should also be under the purview of the Election Commission or other independent statutory body and undertaken at least annually.

  2. There are a lot of people who would totally concur with the sentiments expressed by George Lewin. Private donations to politics is a cancer on our political system.
    How moral is it for a firm or multi-national corporation to filch money from their shareholders, without their permission, to bribe politicians into complying with the corrupt agenda of the company’s board? We outlawed donations from the tobacco industry for good reason.
    But they are not the only pernicious influence on government. The political advocacy of some Not-for-profit organisations, trade associations, and friendly societies raise a similar questions.
    Furthermore, vested interests can effectively hijack the political system through advertising campaigns. For instance, the licensed clubs industry, nation-wide, fought,successfully, to continue to foist the damage from poker machines onto the Salvation Army. (Who else picks up the human wreckage?)
    The tearful bleating from these self-interested entities about “freedom of speech” dins in our ears, but if our kids came at this kind of nonsense, they would get a “thick ear”, child protection legislation notwithstanding.
    Time to get angry, folks – but not at the behest of the “shock-jocks” and plutocrats who speak for vested interests.

  3. It does however get hard to swallow the notion that public monies are then being spent on what largely is a propaganda exercise involving a lot of bullshitting. Would it not be better to provide just a basic small stipend amount from public funds and then allow private and corporate donations but these donations are only allowed to a consolidated fund which is then distributed among the parties. That way your donation can still help get political messages out but is not just a simple monetary advantage for a particular party. Perhaps even raise a tax on the proceeds of this fund to give to a mutually agreed charity.


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