The Liberal and Labor Parties recently voted in the Federal Parliament to allow property developers to ignore State laws banning them from making political donations, if the donation is for “federal purposes”.
This opens up a loophole you could drive a truck through. Even worse, the legislation allows property developers and political parties to ignore State laws that require donations to be disclosed. For example, in News South Wales and Queensland donations of $1000 or more need to be disclosed. Under the new Federal law, only donations of $14,300 made “for federal purposes” need to be disclosed.
Property developer campaign donations are banned in New South Wales and Queensland, with good reason. Property developers have been caught out by the New South Wales Independent Commission against Corruption making dodgy cash donations to Members of Parliament and candidates.
But this legislation allows property developers in New South Wales and Queensland to make donations to political parties in those states of up to $14,299 and no-one will ever know. All they have to do is say the money is ‘for federal purposes”.
The idea that donations “for federal purposes” will stop property developers seeking to buy influence is laughably naïve. Political parties that receive money “for federal purposes” will have money freed up to spend on State campaigns. National Party officials can have a word in the ear of State Ministers and Shadow Ministers that Property Developer X is “a good friend of the party”. It is totally unenforceable.
The major political parties can claim to be concerned about corruption. But given an opportunity to put their money where their mouth is, they failed dismally. The ongoing revelations at the IBAC inquiry into corruption at Casey Council in Victoria show just how deep and insidious the influence of property developers is.
If Australians are worried about corruption in our political system, they need to vote for a Party that will outlaw property developer donations at all levels of government, enforce strict limits on the amounts that are required to be disclosed, and introduce real time reporting of donations, which is an idea whose time has come.
The Hon. Kelvin Thomson
Sustainable Australia Party