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Political donations put Treasurer's China visit under question

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 29 Aug 2011

Greens NSW Senator and democracy spokesperson Lee Rhiannon said that Treasurer Wayne Swan’s decision to spend half of his China visit with one of Australia’s biggest political donors highlights the need for a ban on political donations (‘Political donor to take up Swan’s time', The Australian, 29/8/11).

“The Treasurer’s China visit should put the spotlight on the electoral funding reform and a cloud over Mr Swan’s work with Dr Chau Chak Wing, one of Australia’s biggest donors”, said Senator Rhiannon.

“Mr Swan has not broken any electoral funding laws but his decision to spend half of his one day trip to mainland China in activities linked with Dr Chau’s developments is questionable.

“Dr Chau and his Kinghold group of companies have donated well over $1 million in the past decade to state and federal Labor, Liberal and National parties, according the Greens Democracy4sale.org website.

“Close ties between politicians and business owners who have made political donations are poisoning people’s trust in the democratic process.

“The relationship between the business community and political leaders would be healthier and win more public respect if political donation were banned.

“The Labor-Greens Agreement sets out the need for an inquiry into electoral funding reform. The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters is currently conducting this inquiry.

“The Australian Greens have called on the government to adopt electoral reform similar to the Canadian system. In Canada there is a ban on political donations from corporations and other organisations, a tight limit on donations from individuals and a cap on election expenditures”, Senator Rhiannon said.

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