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New donations data highlights why major parties block funding reform

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 1 Feb 2012

New data released today by the Australian Electoral Commission for 2010/2011, showing that $24.7 million dollars in donations has flowed to the federal divisions of Labor and Coalition parties, helps explain the reluctance of the Gillard government and Coalition to show leadership on federal funding reform, says Greens Senator and Australian Greens democracy spokesperson Lee Rhiannon (download the summary here).

“This new donations data shows that the culture of donations is alive and well in Australia and that industries such as mining, gambling and ethanol are continuing to line the pockets of Labor and the Coalition,” Senator Rhiannon said.

“Federal Labor disclosed $12.1 million, though only $10.8 million were donations above the $11,700 threshold, the federal Coalition parties disclosed $9.3 million and the Australian Greens disclosed $3.1 million in donations.

“Shamefully, the Coalition parties, both federally and in NSW, continue to accept money from tobacco companies, totalling $87,500 last year.

“In NSW the major parties are neck for neck in the donations race, with the Liberal National Coalition accepting $8.1 million in donations and Labor accepting $8.2 million.

“Last year the lobbyists Clubs NSW and the Australian Hotels Association donated over $1 million to the major parties’ federal and NSW divisions, at the same time that they were lobbying to resist gambling reforms.

“Clubs NSW gave $379,350 to the federal and NSW major parties, with the biggest chunk flowing to the NSW Coalition with $257,000 worth of donations. 

“The Australian Hotels Association gave $742,103, with the lion’s share in $455,653 going to the NSW Coalition.

“At the same time Manildra was lobbying to gain a win on ethanol standards, it donated $534,000 to the major parties both federally and in NSW. 

 “The mining interest Mineralogy gave $300,000 to the Federal Coalition and another $116,000 in Queensland.

 “These figures show why the major parties continue to shy away from reform of political funding.

“Senator Faulkner made a valiant effort to reform Australia’s donations culture, but the Gillard government has gone cold on the idea and reform has stalled.

“The government recently proposed a small number of changes following a federal parliamentary inquiry, but fell short of making substantial, big picture change.

“The reluctance of the Federal Labor and Coalition parties to clean up money politics put them out of step with community opinion.

“The Greens’ long standing calls to overhaul the system, outlined in the Greens dissenting report, have fallen on deaf ears.

“It is not too late for the Gillard government to ban all corporate donations, cap individual donations, limit expenditure by political parties, candidates and third parties and publicly fund election campaigns.

Contact: Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon 0487 350 880

Visit the Greens donations project:

Recommendations of the Australian Greens in its dissenting report to the federal inquiry into the funding of political parties and elections campaigns: 

  • A ban on all donations from all entities other than individuals.
  • A cap on the amount of money that can be donated in a year from a single individual to a political party or candidates.
  • Caps on expenditure by political parties, candidates and third parties.
  • Adequate public funding for political parties, including both funding for election campaigning and for other administrative work of the party, with funding based on the percentage of the vote received by each party.
  • Continuous disclosure of all political donations above $1000, within two weeks of all donations being made.
Attached Files
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