You would think the Fin Review, being Australia’s capitalists’ bible,
would produce a long line of conservative journalistic Liberal voters
but nothing could be further from the truth.

Did you know that Will Anderson went from being an AFR Canberra researcher to a stand-up comedian and JJJ/ABC presenter?

Crikey walked out on the Fin in 1999 to run against Jeff Kennett and
now we’ve just discovered one of our alumni is working for the NSW
Greens. We kid you not.

Hans van Leeuwen was actually a very good financial markets reporter
for the Fin before he quit in 2000 to work in Vietnam and now finds
himself on the staff of Lee Rhiannon. In his capacity as policy adviser
he has written to Crikey rejecting the claims made by Boilermaker Bill
McKell about Green donations.

“Dear Crikey,

Congratulations to Boilermaker Bill for raking over the AEC data on
donations. He has helpfully drawn attention to the open and accountable
way in which the Greens declare their tithing of MPs.

As Bill would well know, tithing is not peculiar to the Greens. The
only thing the Greens do differently is to make the tithing process
obvious – as Bill noted, it’s in our constitution.

Had Bill not been running a political agenda on behalf of the ALP, he
would have noticed an unusual feature of the NSW Labor Party’s AEC
return. Apparently the Parliament of NSW “donated” the princely sum of
$437,114.42 to the ALP last year.

This extraordinary anomaly didn’t seem to catch Bill’s eye, but the
Greens checked it out. We understand that the vast majority of this
money is tithing of MPs’ salaries.

How does this work? Parliamentarians are paid by Parliament, which is
therefore their “employer”. Because the tithings are programmed
payments to an ALP account, they show up on ALP bank statements with
the employer’s name – Parliament of NSW – not the MPs’.

So the public, and ordinary Labor Party members, will never know how
much each MP is tithed – it’s a matter only for the individual Labor
MPs and their tax accountants.

How about the Liberals? Well, not as upfront as the Greens, but better
than Labor. Their return shows a $50,000 donation from “Liberal Party
members of the Legislative Council” – apparently collected on their
behalf by the Liberals’ Upper House deputy whip, Don Harwin.

The Greens are prepared to cop this kind of Labor mud-slinging in the
name of maintaining transparency. Labor can hide behind the Randwick
Labor Club, “the Parliament of NSW”, Markson Sparks and their various
other efforts to paper over the donations trail. But until they clean
up their own act, this sort of mud won’t stick.

Hans van Leeuwen
Policy Adviser
Lee Rhiannon, MLC
The NSW Greens”
(Former Fin Review markets writer)

Peter Fray

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