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.