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Let’s face it, cash for preferences is rife in Australia

It even happened to Crikey when he stood in the Burwood by-election in Victoria last December and came third out of five candidates with almost 2000 votes (about 6.8 per cent of the primary). Ironically, Labor won Jeff Kennett’s old seat on my preferences but they only flowed about 45 per cent their way.

We don’t want to make a song and dance about it because in the overall context of campaign finance, this is just a pimple on the bum.

Someone connected to Labor emailed us saying that “dollars” for printing expenses would be available if we agreed to preference Labor candidate Bob Stensholt.

We are not going to name this person because it was all very unremarkable and you can only burn so many bridges in this life. The offer was obviously made in strictest confidence and we are burning the person by saying this much.

Given that we decided to run a split ticket, the conversation went no further and the offer was dismissed at the outset.

Some of the older Labor hands such as Barry Jones have openly admitted that the practice is widespread. If you do a preference deal it is important to get as much as you can from it.

Therefore, you might finance the printing of how to vote cards and help hand them out if you know that the preferences will eventually help get you over the line.

It was green preferences that got Steve Bracks into the Premier’s office last year. The Greens stood in the 20 most marginal seats and preferenced Labor. The Green candidates won between 5-7 per cent of the vote and their preferences flowed about 80 per cent to Labor.

It would be very interesting to know if Labor provided any assistance on printing or handing out Given the number of people now claiming to have received offers, it would not surprise at all if this was the case.

Dennis Shanahan wrote an excellent column in The Australian last week pointing out that political insiders regard the practice as normal whereas outsiders are shocked when they first hear about it.

Lee Birmingham’s colorful imagery of Wayne Swan’s cash and brown paper bags have created a media feeding frenzy and Meg Lees was disingenuous to say the least claiming there was no record of it. As if there would be a brown paper bag account on the books Meg.

Let’s hope the whole scandal triggers a much wider public debate about campaign finance which has been a huge political issue in countries such as Germany, the UK, Canada, Japan, Israel and the US over the past few decades.

Sadly, the funding of politicians and campaigns has not received the attention it deserves in Australia. Why has no-one ever seriously explored stories such as why Village Roadshow donated more than $2 million to the Liberal Party over three years and the extraordinary political and financial links that Macquarie Bank has with both sides.

Ends

Now, let’s take a look at a release sent out last Sunday by self-proclaimed corruption fighter, taxi driver, reptile collector and spammer Raymond Hoser, who is certainly on the mad side but makes a few good points in this latest release which will no doubt be ingored by the mainstream media. We’ve removed all the attacks Hoser makes on Steve “half” Price from 3AW because his lawyers were right to point out that they were defamatory.

Libs, Labor tried to buy Hoser’s vote in the Frankston East by-election

Sunday 3 December 2000

By Raymond Hoser

In the wake of numerous “cash-for-votes” stories this week, Raymond Hoser, the first Independent Candidate in the Frankston-East by-election has confirmed that he too was offered money in return for his preferences by both major parties.

Hoser’s book, “Victoria Police Corruption” (released on 2 August 1999) forced the Kennett government to call an early election, and with about 1,000 copies sold in Geelong alone (lost by the Libs by 16 votes) is generally regarded as the ultimate cause of the demise of the Kennett government, in September last year.

Immediately following the September election, Hoser nominated himself as the only independent candidate for the Frankston East supplementary election.

He remained the only independent candidate to have nominated up to the second week of the campaign, whereupon about a dozen others nominated.

Hoser was approached by both major parties who offered to print his “how-to-vote” cards in return for Hoser giving them their preferences.

Hoser was shown on Channel Nine News yesterday saying that he was receptive to the offers on the basis that he’d receive the other party’s first preferences in return.

Hoser also told channels Nine and the ABC that within days of nominating, someone from the Liberal side offered Hoser money in return for withdrawing his candidature.

Hoser asked how much he’d be paid to which he was told “$1,000 cash”, to which Hoser replied he’d need at least $20,000 to $30,000, whereupon he was told that if he took the money, he’d have to keep it secret.

Hoser refused to guarantee confidentiality, but said that he was prepared to keep it secret until after the by-election.

On 7 October 1999 Hoser and other’s who’d nominated as independents met at Seaford for a photo shoot by the Frankston Independent newspaper.

One of the candidates had copies of the Liberal and Labor how-to-vote cards that had been registered with the Australian Electoral Commission earlier that day.

It appeared that they two had done an arrangement designed to shut out all the independents, by effectively placing all the candidates in reverse order to one another’s party.

It is effectively impossible that such a complimentary arrangement could have been arrived at by chance.

Hoser was placed midway on both forms, thereby guaranteeing him no hope of success in the by-election. (He finished last out of 16 candidates with just 13 votes. Second last was the ever popular ATSIC chairman Geoff Clarke who got 17 votes. Why would anyone bother to do a preference deal with anyone as unpopular as these chaps?)

It was then that he called off his supporters and save for media appearances, gave up campaigning in Frankston. (Hoser’s poor showing in the poll reflected the fact that no money was spent campaigning, a mainstream media black-out on reporting on him or his policies and that no one handed out how-to-vote cards for him on election day).

In terms of the offers by the major parties to print Hoser’s how-to-vote cards in the Frankston-East by election, Hoser said he was initially advised by several journalists to approach the major parties to do this and led to believe that this was normal in politics.

Even now Hoser said he didn’t think it was seriously wrong or at least not in the context of far greater electoral frauds being perpetrated by the major parties.

Hoser said “a greater scandal was how I was effectively blackballed by elements of the so-called mainstream media who actively support the two-party system and who didn’t want a free-thinking anti-corruption candidate or independent to get up.”

Hoser said “The public are sick and tired of corrupt Liberal and Labor politicians who simply line their own pockets and lie to the public. They want to vote for someone who represents decency. However the media refuse to tell them that people like this (including myself) are even standing for election.”

By way of example the Herald-Sun never once mentioned Raymond Hoser by name in a story during the entire campaign, even though for the first ten or so days of the campaign, he was the only nominated independent.

Steve Price of 3AW attacked Hoser’s credibility describing him as a “whacko”.

Hoser said:”These matters as well as certain corporate donations to major parties, in return for contracts and the like, as documented in the book “Victoria Police Corruption” make the current how-to-vote card scandals look like a Sunday picnic.

For further inquiries phone: (Within Australia) 0412 777 211

Peter Fray

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