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Liberals, Nationals, Labor join forces to vote against a National ICAC; reiterate support for corporate donations

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 24 Nov 2015

24 November 2015

Liberals, Nationals, Labor join forces to vote against a National ICAC; reiterate support for corporate donations

The Coalition and Labor party have struck another blow against democracy by voting down a Greens motion calling for a ban on for-profit corporate political donations and for a federal corruption watchdog to be established.

"The recent High Court decision to uphold a ban on developer donations in NSW has opened the door for the major parties to clean up Australian politics.

"Instead the Coalition and Labor continue to support the very donation policies which have seen a string of corruption scandals exposed in NSW.

"The current culture of political donations is a toxic combination of patronage and profit.

"Banning corporate donations would require politicians to represent the community, not vested interests.

"The Coalition and Labor know the crucial role a federal corruption watchdog like the NSW ICAC can have on democracy, yet they continue to shirk their responsibility to set one up.

"The steady stream of dodgy dealings between industries and politicians has eroded public trust and confidence in the work of government, ministers and MPs.

"All parties and politicians should cooperate to move on this before the next election to rebuild trust. They simply have no excuse not to," Senator Rhiannon said.

Contact: Freya Newman 0437 350 880

Full text of motion, voted down by Liberals, Nationals and Labor:
That the Senate -
a) Notes that:

i) Former Newcastle Lord Mayor and developer Jeff McCloy lost his High Court case to overturn a New South Wales law banning developers from making political donations;
ii) In its finding on the case the High Court identified a more subtle kind of corruption known as clientelism, which is where officeholders will decide issues not on the merits or the desires of their constituencies, but according to the wishes of those who have made large financial contributions valued by the officeholder;
iii) The High Court also stated that the particular concern is that reliance by political candidates on private patronage may, over time, become so necessary as to sap the vitality, as well as the integrity, of the political branches of government;
iv) In dealing with solutions the High Court found that unlike straight cash-for-votes transactions, such corruption is neither easily detected nor practical to criminalise, and the best means of prevention is to identify and to remove the temptation; and

b) Calls on
i) The Government to ban political donations to parties and candidates from for-profit corporations; and
ii) The Government to establish an independent agency, similar to the NSW ICAC, which works to expose corruption and enhance integrity at the federal level.

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