May 5, 2014

Turn off the telly and let the sunlight in on political donations

Efforts to restrict the unedifying process of politicians selling access to themselves are unlikely to work, but greater real-time transparency of who is trying to influence politicians might.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

There are three very powerful forces aligned against any substantial overhaul of our political donations system: Labor, the Coalition and the television industry.

Treasurer Joe Hockey hasn’t done anything unusual, let alone inappropriate, in raising funding by selling access to himself. It’s one of the key ways the major parties raise funds; the Gillard government used to offer business $12,000-a-table dinners with a cabinet minister at each table, although as the election got closer, the price dropped considerably. And Labor depends heavily on union donations, which give unions tremendous power within the party and a big say over party policy. Power — the ability to make important decisions — is the key asset political parties possess. Selling access to themselves is a way of monetising that asset.

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21 thoughts on “Turn off the telly and let the sunlight in on political donations

  1. klewso

    Do they rent their bodies out by the hour too?

  2. rhwombat

    BK: Good piece.
    Klewso: No, only their ‘minds’.

  3. paddy

    Good stuff BK.
    While it’s never going to be a perfect solution, speeding up the reporting of donations would be a huge improvement on the current situation.

  4. Yclept

    The fact that the Right is so keen to hide donations can only mean that know they are bribes – pure and simple!

  5. Bill Hilliger

    Moral of the story is that politicians are owned by those who can afford to buy at the highest price.

    Saw a sad rent seeker on the TV this morning complaining that the coalition government must not take away the diesel fuel levy. Went on to complain about the live cattle trade being stopped last year and that it was a cruel blow to the cattle industry. Didn’t say however that the real cruelty was mainly being perpetrated on the animals being sent by the farming fraternity. I guess nowadays with the venal government we have that animal cruelty must be tolerated and be ok if there is a dollar to be made …after all, its the Australian way.

  6. DiddyWrote

    As any sensible suggestion regarding reeling in political donations and curbing their corrosive effect will be of course be ignored, I’ve decided to offer this instead.

    All current and would be politicians must wear their team kit at all times. The Liberals would be in blue, Labor in red and the Greens in …. well you get the picture.

    Donors logo’s (Corporate or Union) would be stitched onto the team kit and the size of the logo would be proportional to the size of the donation.

    Instantly voters would be able to see who is expecting a payback from which party and how much they have stumped up for it. The donors would also have the benefit of a bit of free advertising as well.

  7. zut alors

    What’s more interesting than the concept of Hockey selling himself is the fact that Murdoch media is running such headlines.

  8. klewso

    There’s no such thing as free lunch – if there was these donations would be anonymous?
    Who pays the piper usually calls the tune.

  9. zut alors

    Or if you’re a media baron you simply pay in kind.

  10. The Pav

    Perhaps Bernard after writing “The Liberals virulently loath transparency for political donations ” you could ask the Liberals which party has the “Faceless men”

    Good luck getting a rational answer.

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