Labor’s support for lowering the disclosure threshold and banning overseas donations is welcome, but if they are serious about removing the influence of money on politics they should join Greens’ calls for strict caps on donations and election expenditure.
Greens research and analysis through the Democracy for Sale project has predicted that tomorrow, when AEC donations data is released, the total amount of declared donations and payments made to Australian political parties since 1998 will reach $1 billion.
“Lowering the disclosure threshold and cracking down on overseas donations is not enough, although we welcome Labor’s support for both of those reforms,” Greens democracy spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said.
“A ban on overseas donations is important, but why stop there? Enormous donations from Australian industries, businesses and individuals are a huge part of the problem. Donations to political parties spike in election years for a reason.
“The current donations laws are utterly inadequate – not just because disclosure is sluggish, but because they encourage a cosy relationship between political parties and vested interests.
“Transparency is a useful tool, but not the solution. Thanks to transparency rules we know the resources industry has handed over $50,824,732 to political parties since 1998 – but transparency does not stop the money flowing in, and it does not stop vested interests from buying political influence.
“We must pursue donations reform and we must do it properly,” Senator Rhiannon said.
The Greens Democracy for Sale project has totalled the payments disclosed to the AEC from different industries to political parties since 1998:
- Property industry: $64,099,161 (amount excludes other receipts, which are most likely loans and bank transfers).
- Resource companies: $50,824,732.
- Financial/Insurance: $37,078,539 (amount excludes other receipts, which are most likely loans and bank transfers).
- Alcohol: $2,996,153.
- Pharmaceutical/Health: $12,625,078.
To search payments and donations to all political parties, visit democracyforsale.net.