Three stories from the last day or two bring home very forcibly how our political sphere operates.
“A Chinese government-backed propaganda unit and a swag of companies that stand to gain from the China Australia Free Trade Agreement have made more than half a million dollars of political donations in Victoria, raising concerns about the influence of foreign donors.
Companies linked to Chinese conglomerate Yuhu Group made a donation to then trade minister Andrew Robb’s fundraising entity the day the trade deal was clinched.
Mr Robb also endorsed Yuhu’s $2 billion investment in Australian agriculture in a joint-venture with a Chinese state-owned enterprise at its launch on September 15, 2014.”
Slain gangland lawyer and Mafia associate Joe Acquaro spent two decades cultivating, and donating to, senior Liberal politicians on behalf of alleged crime figures, even having a meeting with Malcolm Turnbull.
Leaked documents and photos tell the inside story of the political activities of Mr Acquaro, who considered himself the long-standing legal, business and political adviser for Melbourne’s alleged Calabrian Mafia cell, and whose political access raises serious questions about Australia’s donations regime.
Mr Acquaro’s lunch meeting with Mr Turnbull occurred after the now Prime Minister became opposition leader in 2008.
One of the Liberal Party’s most senior former fundraisers has revealed that when allegedly prohibited donations were made to the party, he knew it was happening.
Up to now, no senior federal Liberal Party official has admitted their knowledge of this practice.
Michael Yabsley, who served as the party’s honorary federal treasurer from 2008 to 2010, is calling for root-and-branch reform of Australia’s current system of electoral funding.
“I believe this is now crunch time. You have the damage that has been done to the reputations of many, many individuals, to the reputations of many companies and the reputations of the major political parties,” he told Four Corners in an exclusive interview that will air tonight.
“It all points to the absolute case to do away with the system of political fundraising that we currently have.”
In 2010, allegedly prohibited donations from property developers were channelled through a federal entity, the Free Enterprise Foundation (FEF), back to the Liberal Party in New South Wales. Mr Yabsley was the party’s federal treasurer at the time.
He said at the time, he was “sanguine” about what the FEF was doing.
“Now looking back on it … those practices are not acceptable and should not have been acceptable in the past,” he said.”
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.
Yet another area where Malcolm’s fine words of the past are shown up for what they were – not a statement of principle but empty rhetoric to be discarded when expedient.
Like what we do at The AIMN?
You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.
Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!
Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.
You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969