How much money is the Federal Coalition receiving from the mining industry as part of its campaign against the RSPT? How much are these extraordinarily wealthy multinationals tipping into Coalition coffers?
For that matter, how much is Labor receiving from the immensely wealthy superannuation industry, or from medium and large companies that will be punished by Tony Abbott’s paid parental leave levy?
We’ll find out in February next year, when the Australian Electoral Commission releases its data for 2009-10.
That’s only for donations given before 30 June. For donations given after 1 July, and especially in the run-up to the campaign itself, we’ll find out who gave how much to whom in… February 2012.
That’s the requirement under the current political donation reporting framework. Back when it was committed to such things, the Government tried reform the Commonwealth Electoral Act, including to increase the frequency of reporting of donations to every six months, or eight weeks after an election. This means that voters would have known what the parties had received this financial year before they went to the polls.
The reforms were blocked by the Coalition and Steve Fielding.
Since then the Government, perhaps noting how little opprobrium either Coalition or Fielding attracted for behaving in such fashion, appears to have lost interest in reform.
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The current system for the reporting of political donations at the Commonwealth level is ludicrous, antiquated and completely at odds with the basic goal of political transparency. Its reform should be a matter of the highest priority when political debate is dominated by immensely wealthy industries seeking to buy outcomes through advertising campaigns and donations to parties and MPs.
Instead, we’ll have to wait until mid-way through the next Parliamentary term to have the full picture of influence-buying.