Crikey has been accused of plenty of things over the years but never
before has it been suggested we’ve bankrupted anyone, let alone a major
political party.

“Has Crikey bankrupted the party?” That was the question put to South
Australian Liberal leader Rob Kerin this morning by ABC Adelaide’s Morning host
David Bevan during an outside broadcast interview from the steps of Parliament
House.

The context was that Kerin said Crikey’s activities at AGMs had scared
boardrooms away from making donations. He can only be referring to the
Adelaide Bank and this subsequent sealed section after the 2003 AGM:

Crikey spent a few hours in Adelaide on Friday courtesy of no-pokies MP
Nick Xenophon who wanted to put some pressure on the Adelaide Bank for
their excessive political donations.

He had a point as this sleepy regional bank with a capitalisation
of about $800 million managed to donate $110,000 to the Libs in 2001-02
and $100,000 to Labor, making it the third largest donor in South
Australia after the pokie-pushing Australian Hotels Association and
Gerard Industries.

Whilst Crikey is keen to work with Xenophon beating up on the
gaming industry, the lad is genuinely committed to reforming campaign
finance and points out that South Australia has no laws requiring
disclosure so any funds given to him or other SA-registered outfits can
remain secret. Mike Rann should close this loophole pronto.

Rather than specifically naming me, Kerin should have named Xenophon
because he organised the whole thing, including the press conference
after the AGM, which generated plenty of local media coverage and
sparked the change in board policy.

The South Australian Liberals are said to be in worse shape than any
other state division, partly because Adelaide Bank is refusing to
donate and presumably because Rob Gerard is licking his wounds after
the scandal surrounding his tax affairs and the Reserve Bank board.

Given that every other state Labor government has receiving a thumping
second term majority and Mike Rann’s huge lead in the polls, this
year’s South Australian election is shaping up as a landslide, which is
not a good environment to be raising money in.

Maybe the Federal Liberals should help their South Australian cousins
out with a loan, especially given the disproportionately large number
of Crow Eaters in the federal cabinet.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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