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With the Packers shovelling $25,000 into Democrat bank accounts this week it seems that someone needs to keep these bastards honest. That person is Hillary Bray who has been digging deep into Democrat funding hypocrisies.

Australian Democrats Issue Sheet 1998

Electoral Matters – Regulation of Political Parties

In October 1999, Ah Satan gave the Queensland University of Technology Ethics and Public Life Lecture in Brisbane. She chose as her topic “Ethics and Politics: an oxymoron?” and the media release proudly boasted “Senator Stott Despoja, 05 is the first serving politician to have given the lecture”.

Satan might like to drop by the QUT again come October – not to speak, but for a refresher course. Her behaviour this week on electoral funding has been disingenuous – to say the least – and trying to hide it all behind posters saying “Change Politics” is even worse.

Soon after Satan became leader, Crikey received an e-mail from a disillusioned Dem claiming that Satan wanted the party to hold $10,000 a plate fundraisers to pay for extensive opinion polling. Hillary e-mailed Dem HQ, but received no response.

At the end of April, the Adelaide Advertiser ran a piece reporting that the Dems would be holding a series of dinners in the capital cities between June and August at $2,500 a pop. It stated “the main selling point is the intimacy – no more than 10 tables”.

Still, the Dems national fundraiser Brian Haddy insisted the party was not selling influence, saying “I want to make it clear: the Democrats are not for sale in any shape or form”.

That was good to note – as the Democrats have had a lot to say on political donations over the years. Their 1998 platform called for all donations over $10, 000 to be immediately disclosed, and they even have an accountability spokesperson, Senator Andrew Murray.

Murray gave an interesting speech to the Australian Shareholders Association early last year on corporate political donations titled “Corporate Political Donations – Altruism or Corruption?”. Here are some grabs from the press release:

“According to Senator Murray, ever since the first political donation changed hands, money has been used to influence electoral outcomes and the process of government.

” ‘If that is an inescapable reality the question is then not how to stop it, but how to control it,’ Senator Murray said.

” ‘Corruption best flourishes in the dark, in secret. The more open and accountable our political system is, including the financing of politics, the less the chance of corruption.

” ‘Money and electoral success do seem to go together. Whether money dictates the next step – the exercise of undue access and corrupting influence – is harder to determine.’

“Senator Murray said ordinary citizens view large political donations with suspicion because of what they see as the obvious link between money, politics and policy.

” ‘The public demand for transparent and fully reported political party funding and disclosure is proper, insistent and must be heeded.’ ”

Well, last Wednesday the dinners finally got underway, with a do at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo. Tickets reportedly cost $2,500, and the Packer family’s Publishing and Broadcasting Limited is said to have taken a table of 10.

If this is so, then PBL has had an amazing change of heart over the Democrats. The Dem’s 1999-2000 financial return had this line item: “PBL (TCN Channel 9), GPO Box 9 Sydney NSW 2001, $1,500.00”. Wow! If the reports are true, that means that at one event alone PBL handed over more than 16 times the amount it had given the Dems in an entire year. Why the sudden change of heart?

Strangely enough, many members have been asking just that very question this week – not of the Packers, but of the Democrats themselves.

Despite the party’s comments in the past, Haddy has declined to reveal a list of donors or even name the guests who attended Tuesday’s gathering. Instead, he has said the party would lodge the list of donors in accordance with Australian Electoral Commission guidelines. That means the Dems can sit on the information until 2002 and – surprise, surprise – quite a few aren’t happy with that.

There has been a constant trickle from “Democrat sources” through the week questioning Haddy’s approach. Others have been happy to go on the record.

Andrew Murray told The Australian he remained “absolutely unequivocal” about the need for complete disclosure of political fundraising, saying “absolute transparency and openness is desirable at all times when it comes to any donations to political parties”. His comments to the Sydney Morning Herald were even firmer. He told them there was “no possible reason for the party not to disclose now. In my view it has to”.

Murray is not a Satan ally, but the same story reported her closest parliamentary ally, Gary Numan lookalike Andrew Bartlett, had demanded a ceiling on political donations.

The leaks themselves – let alone the various different public comments by members of the party organisation and parliamentary party show the divisions created by Satan’s coup will take a long time healing.

Behind the scenes, a fight is still continuing for the heart and soul of the Democrats.

Log onto their website and will you see a picture of Satan with her new higher maintenance do and the words “Change Politics”. Then have a read of this passage from Thursday’s Herald report on the fundraising do:

“A spokesman for the Democrats leader, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, said there had been no breach of party policy. While some reports had played up the fact that she recently helped launch a women’s charter for political reform, which advocated donations be restricted to $1,000 for individuals and $10,000 for companies, she had not personally ‘signed off’ on that policy.”

For those of you who are not spin doctors, Hillary will translate: “The Senator decided she’d better go along for the photo op, even though she didn’t endorse the actual reason the photo-op was on in the first place”.

Change politics? What a load of crap!

Democrat donors

What political party accepted $10,000 from McDonalds – those environmental vandals, poisoners of children, exploiters of unskilled and desperate young workers who are the very symbol of everything that is evil about globalisation? Yup. You guessed it. The Australian Democrats.

Other donors have included Macquarie Bank (see Crikey passim), other financial institutions, peak industry bodies (including the Australian Bankers Association, the guys who bought you Cash for Comment), the telcos, developers and various spin doctors and lobbyists, including the ubuquitous Gavin Anderson, Tunbull Porter Novelli and Canberra Liaison and Hill and Knowlton.

Here’s a list of monies received by the Democrats from the corporate sector over the last two available years.

The companies AD Properties and Green and Gold Properties are fascinating – given the initials and colours of the Democrats. All information on them would be gratefully received.

This is what one ex-Dem has said: “AD Properties is a shelf company owned by the Dems. Green and Gold is owned by the SA division. They’re both basically slush funds to look after the money they have sloshing around after a good election result. Green and Gold, I think, only owns a building in Adelaide. One of the offices is used by the SA Dems and the others are rented out. AD Properties is more shadowy and less open. There’s much more secrecy about it at National level – they’re not incorporated and have a total contempt for the AD Constitution and the law generally. The Vic division used to have a company called Chempah but they recently liquidated it because they were desparate for the dough.”

1999-2000

AD Properties: $24,725.00

Network Ten: $15,000.00

Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia: $10,000.00

Property Council of Australia: $10,000.00

Challenge Bank (Westpac): $7,372.94

Macquarie Bank: $6,000.00

Coles Myer: $3,500.00

AGC Investments (Westpac): $3,171.86

Cable and Wireless Optus: $2,799.00

AD Properties Pty Ltd: $2,500.00

Elderslie Finance: $2,500.00

Investment and Financial Services Association Ltd: $2,500.00

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia (Victorian Branch): $2,500.00

Turnbull Porter Novelli: $2,500.00

Australian National University: $2,000.00

Ansett Australia (ACT): $1,500.00

Australian Bankers Association: $1,500.00

Australian Gas Light Company: $1,500.00

Australian Industry Group: $1,500.00

Business Council of Australia: $1,500.00

Cable and Wireless Optus: $1,500.00

Canberra Liaison Pty Ltd: $1,500.00

Carlton and United Breweries: $1,500.00

Carney Associates: $1,500.00

Coles Myer: $1,500.00

Commonwealth Bank of Australia: $1,500.00

Credit Union Services Corporation (Australia) Limited: $1,500.00

Financial Planning Association: $1,500.00

Gavin Anderson and Kortlang: $1,500.00

Hayes Associates Pty Ltd: $1,500.00

Hill and Knowlton: $1,500.00

Insurance Council of Australia: $1,500.00

Lend Lease Corporation: $1,500.00

Minerals Council of Australia: $1,500.00

National Australia Bank: $1,500.00

National Mutual (now AXA): $1,500

NRMA Insurance Limited: $1,500

PBL (TCN Channel 9): $1,500.00

Price Waterhouse Coopers Legal: $1,500.00

Telstra: $1,500.00

Vodafone: $1,500.00

Westpac Banking Corporation: $1,500.00

1998-1999

AD Properties Pty Ltd: $1,750.00

AGC Investments: $16,916.22

AMP Investments: $5,000.00

Australian Bankers Association: $8,150.00

Australian Gas Light Company Ltd: $5,000.00

Australian Hotels Association: $2,469.00

Avant Card: $3,500.00

Bankers Trust Australia: $11,100.00

Commonwealth Bank: $1,750.00

Coca-Cola Amatil: $10,000.00

Cockburn Cement: $1,500.00

Coles Myer: $10,000.00

Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia Inc: $10,000.00

Gerard Industries Pty Ltd: $20,000.00

Green and Gold Property Pty Ltd: $92,000.00

Heytesbury Pty Ltd (Janet Holmes a Court): $3,000.00

John Baker and Associates Pty Ltd: $2,000.00

Kbase Systems Pty Ltd: $2,724.00

Lend Lease Corporation: $15,000.00

Lion Nathan Australia: $3,000.00

Macquarie Bank: $1,500.00

McDonalds Australia (NSW): $10,000.00

Motor Trades Electoral Action Committee – ACT: $4,000.00

Motor Trades Electoral Action Committee – WA: $5,000.00

Nelron Group: $1,500.00

Network Ten: $10,000.00

Optus Communications: $10,000.00

R P Scherer Holdings Pty Ltd: $5,000.00

The Becton Corporation: $10,000.00

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia: $5,000.00

Trust Company of Australia Ltd: $5,000.00

Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce: $3,000.00

Westpac Banking Corporation: $10,000.00

Peter Fray

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