11 January, 2017


There has been a lot of concern expressed about political donations being made to gain an advantage , especially by developers. So how does our political donation system work?
According to an article in The "Conversation" membership of political parties has declined, so they have to bolster their coffers by appealing to the public and corporations for donations.
Anyone can donate any amount they like. At the federal level donations above $13,000 must be disclosed once a year but  such disclosure is usually not notified until well after the donation is made. In NSW donations from property developers and tobacco. liquor and gambling industries are banned.
In Victoria there are no disclosure restrictions but gambling and casino donations are capped at $50,000.
Traditionally, state and federal electoral commissions have not taken action even when politicians didn't disclose donations. The "Conversation" article makes the point that the system is riddled with inconsistencies, lacking tranparency,  as money can be channelled through different jurisdictions to avoid disclosure. The article goes on to say that we expect our politicians to be accountable in exercising their public duties. In particular, politicians should not engage in corrupt behavour such  as bartering with a wealthy donor to make decsions in their favour in exchange for a large sum of money. But it's not just the actual corruption that the issue; even the perception of corruption can damage trust in the political system.
In Victoria there are many cases that indicate  donations have swayed planning decisions in favour of developers, so we say that Victoria's very lax controls need to be tightened up along the lines that now apply in  NSW  by banning donations from developers.
You can read the Conversation article by going to :   www.theconversation.com/explainer: how does our political system work

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