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Day to Day Politics: Giving it away for nothing? Not likely.

Sunday 4 September 2016

“Life is about perception. Not what is but what we perceive it to be”.

When political parties receive financial donations from foreign countries or through third-party entities Australians perceive them as just part of what they see, and unfortunately accept, as part of a corrupt political system.

Paying an account with today’s remarkable technology is as simple as opening your internet banking account typing the name of the business and the amount owing and bingo it’s paid and it appears on your statement.

But finding out who donates to political parties requires a delay of up to 18 months. Why is this so when technology enables us to acquire information in real-time?

Why would it not be possible to have a real-time web site where all political donations to all parties are listed and updated weekly? It would be such a simple thing to do.

It seems nonsensical that we should have to wait 18 months to find out how much (and why) the Prime Minister donated to his own election campaign. The perception is that he has something to hide. In fact we have no idea who donated to who in the election. It is outrageous that we don’t. There is hardly a week that passes without some sort of scandal about donations.

Even more outrageous is that foreign countries are even permitted to donate to political parties. Again the perception is that they are doing it for a purpose. It might also be the reality of course.

It may be true that people give large donations for their own personal reasons but when they are given in a manner where the public isn’t allowed to know about it for a long period of time, then there is a perception of corruption. The same goes for companies who are generous with their cash. They don’t give it away for nothing. They want something in return. As do the property developers.

Many attempts have been made to get a better system of donations but the vested interests of the parties always seems to get in the road. Politicians, like Bernardi last week, latch onto the slightest offence instead of tackling the crux of the problem.

Labor’s Special Minister of state, Stephen Conroy, has reached across the aisle in yet another attempt at getting it right.

He said he was prepared to inject greater transparency in the system to restore public confidence, and he challenged the Coalition to come to the table to overhaul the disclosure regime.

Just how serious the offer is has yet to be tested. He wants disclosure of all donations of more than $1000 and reckons the LNP need to explain the use of third-party identities. He said transparency was needed but ruled out any form of ICAC. He did say that three months is a reasonable time for donations to be revealed, not the 18 months it now takes. He favoured an increase in public funding and the banning foreign donations.

“If politicians want the Australian people to take us seriously, they want to know that we are independent of that sort of activity and potential conflicts of interest. The first thing you have to do is ban foreign donations”.

He would not countenance the banning of political donations from companies institutions or trade unions say there were constitutional problems.

He pointed to the Liberal Party’s ‘Free Enterprise Foundation’ as third-party entities that needed to be outed.

Malcolm Turnbull is on the record of not supporting donations from unions and companies.

As Kaye Lee pointed out on this blog:

“Soon after his election in October 2004, in an email to a Greens Woollahra councillor in February 2005, Malcolm Turnbull wrote that he believes “no political donations should be allowed unless they are: from citizens and/or persons on the electoral roll (ie, no companies, unions, associations etc); subject to a cap; and donors should certify that the donation is either their own or their spouse’s money and has not been given to them by a third-party”.

“After the Liberals lost the NSW and Federal elections in 2007, then shadow federal treasurer, Malcolm Turnbull, joined the NSW Opposition Leader, Barry O’Farrell, in calling for changes to the laws on political donations, and a ban on corporations or unions donating money to parties”.

“Now would be a good time for reform Malcolm but I suspect this fine sentiment has gone the way of your other principles”.

The only thing preventing something being done is a lack of desire by both parties. The lack of desire could only stem from each parties desire vested interest in in attaining/retaining power under any circumstances.’’

If they do nothing it will only confirm the fact that people take it for granted that they are corrupt and couldn’t care less. That there is a stench of corruption over Australian politics meaning our political parties are on the take and will accept donations under circumstances where there is a chance of getting away with it. But then from what I have seen of politics over the past few years that is exactly the public’s perception. And to make matters worse the politicians don’t really seem to care.

My thought for the day.

“Life is about perception. Not what is but what we perceive it to be”.



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  1. kerri

    The only reason businesses donate is to gain some disguised, reciprocal benefit.
    The only reason politicians refuse to disclose donation details is they gain some disguised, reciprocal benefit.
    Simple really.

  2. Keitha Granville

    I think a lot of people DO care, but unfortunately at every election it is politicians who get voted in, and they DON’T cais, even if they said they did before.

  3. Shevill Mathers

    I would like to see ALL political donations banned. Each party should be allowed a small amount of money from government funds and that would level the playing field and make candidates have to work a lot harder personally, instead of wasting time and money just ‘bagging other parties. It would eliminate the corrupt donations ‘fee for service’ perception.

  4. Jaquix

    Interesting that Malcolm knew how to solve the problem 12 years ago. Now he doesnt/cant/wont.

  5. z

    no donation for free is the fact, it is very true, it is a deal between power and money. whom we should blame to for the problem caused? the receiver of the donation or the donator who from foreign?

  6. stephengb2014

    The word plutocracy comes to mind

  7. Hotspringer

    Stephen Conroy once again agreed with the LNP in opposing a federal ICAC. Both major parties are to blame!

  8. townsvilleblog

    kerri, I’m with you mate. 100%

  9. Gangey1959

    Let them ALL sell sausages like the rest of the underfunded organisations like the local kindergarten I DONATE my screenprinting services to once a year.
    I found it offensive last week on lateline??, when the interviewer kept hounding the alp dude about the legality of mr dastyari’s $1800ish repayments and where that cash had come from when during the last election, when it REALLY mattered, we heard nothing from any of them regarding parakeelia and how the lnp just launder millions whenever they deem it necessary.
    Sauce is sauce, and I don’t care whether we are cooking geese or gander.
    On another note, it was a shame the marriage equality wasn’t rammed through on Thursday night, or at least the quashing of the bullshit plebiscite. That would have seen some shit hanging from some far flung corners I reckon.

  10. Trev

    Jaquix, an interesting fact with a few exceptions:
    Sanity deserts politicians the higher up the food chain they advance.

    The Conversation had a similar article a couple of days ago concerning the nexus of donations and the culture of bribing with similar insights as offered here. That you are on the same page is a compliment.

    My suggestion:
    Ban donations outright or pool all donations into a common fund which is then split equally among Laberals, Greens and Independents.

  11. Kronomex

    I notice that the news articles about Bishop and the Chinese donations of big cash to the W.A L.N.P. seems to have disappeared.

  12. jim

    Chinese government caught bribing the Liberal Party, Labor Party and Julie Bishop

    The Scam and how it works

    The Liberal Party owned company Parakeelia sends invoices every year to Liberal MP’s and Senators for $2550 who then pay it. The MP’s and Senators then send an invoice to the Department of Finance for reimbursement. Parakeelia then would donate most of the money back to the Liberal Party.

    It was reported on the 8th June 2016:

  13. wam

    if you do not know the difference between perception and reality then what you perceive is “what is” and remains so unless acted on by a force as of newton’s first law.
    Labor put no force into the rabbott’s 40 year old perception that labor cannot manage QED.

    Political donations are open and visible when compared to the dinner with the treasurer or private meetings or paid ‘trips’.
    Until pollies are forced by law to publish their meetings under headings when, where, who with, how long, why and projected outcome(national security exceptions to who/why). They are free to backslide and we are free to disrespect them as greedy slackers.
    With what little maths I remember, the dilubrankims of this page are directly proportional to the female party speakers? Surely they have not gone shy?????

  14. Anon E Mouse

    What I would like to understand is why Dastyari didn’t just pay the outstanding bill from his own pocket. Lets face it they are getting paid a darn good wage.

  15. TuffGuy

    As they say in the classics – you get nuffin for nuffin.

  16. Marilyn R

    I would like to see all political donations banned and a general overhaul of all perks and benefits. However, it is the politicians in government who make the rules and that both sides are corrupt is obvious. What the people feel and want or even, what is best for the nation and its people just doesn’t factor in with these self serving career politicians. A lot has to do with the party system and that is no longer working for the people!

  17. king1394

    It is not only donations we need to control but the free rein for election spending. If you / your party has the money to pay for it, there can be any number of TV commercials, full page newspaper ads, billboards, brochures/flyers/coreflutes galore. If you are an individual or small party, you may have to rely on a couple of small fundraisers (Trivia anyone?). A wealthy person such as Mr Turnbull himself, or Clive Palmer, can fund the costs of electioneering from his spare change.
    I would like to see an amount allocated that can be used by candidates on election expenses using the current pot of election funding money. Nothing beyond that amount could be spent. But there are a lot of people who make money out of elections, printers being one example,

  18. seaworks

    Just stop ALL donations to politicians and parties.
    They are really just a bribe, there can be no other reason for making them.
    A bribe is for a service to be rendered and not because of a love for whoever is receiving it.

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