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Call for parties to clean up corporate donations

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 7 Aug 2013

Australian Greens democracy spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon has called for Labor and the Coalition to commit to legislating to ban corporate donations to political parties and to voluntarily disclose online all political donations over $1000 donated in the current election.

Commenting on the call by former Labor fundraiser Richard Vines for greater transparency of fund raising events Senator Rhiannon said she welcomed cross party support for electoral funding reform.

“The gala fundraisers being held for Labor and the Coalition parties allow big business to buy a level of access to politicians that ordinary people can't afford,” Senator Rhiannon said.

“The recent ICAC hearings involving former NSW Labor ministers have highlighted how urgently electoral funding reform is needed.

“Corporate donations bring a corrupting influence to politics.

“It is widely recognised that Mr Eddie Obeid retained enormous power in the ALP because of his prolific fund raising for the party. 

“The big donors continue to be developers, clubs, and businesses associated with the alcohol and gaming industries.

"Resource and energy companies and the pharmaceutical and medical industries are also usually very generous to the major parties coming into an election.

“Lobbyists who would have rubbed shoulders and shared a drink with politicians at these fundraisers will be in Canberra post election pushing for favourable outcomes for the companies they represent. 

“These relationships are damaging for the democratic process as merit is less likely to be the determining factor in government decisions. 

“Donations made from 1 July for this election campaign will not be publicly disclosed until 1 February 2015 and then it will only be amounts over $12,400.

“The Howard government in 2006 lifted the threshold for disclosure for political donations from $1500 to $10,000 allowing for increases in the CPI.

"In the last federal election more than $14 million was donated to political parties and candidates. Information on the source of this money and who it is donated to should be available during the election campaign. The public should not have to wait 18 months for this information.

“The public have a right to know who is bankrolling candidates in this election,” Senator Rhiannon said. 

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