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Make it all in, or all out, for political donations

By Graham Young - posted Friday, 13 April 2018


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There’s no way around using blanket categories like “property developers”, “unions”, “big end of town”. You have to be able to generalise to discuss, but often the generalisations obscure the truth.

Take “property developer”. Last week the ABC highlighted the fact the LNP returned a $5,000 donation to Mr Brian Flannery because one of his companies is involved in property development.

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Flannery had a low profile and had done nothing illegal, but suddenly he is cast in the role of villain – not just a “property developer” but possibly “shady”, else why would the LNP be returning his cheque? 

So who is Flannery? He’s one of Queensland’s richest men with an estimated net worth in 2016 of $823 million, and Chair of the Mater Group Board.

He’s a miner, which is where most of his interests still lie, but he and his wife own KTQ Developments, a property development company which grew out of her interest in real estate

So his wife’s business makes him a “property developer”, which means he’s allowed to vote in elections, but can’t donate even a few dollars.

While $5,000 may sound a lot to most of us, when you take into account the fact that in 2015/16 the net wealth of the average Australian family was $929,400, to Flannery, who is 885 times richer, $5k is like $5.65 to you and me.

It is also paltry when compared to his charitable giving which in 2015 amounted to $2.57 million.

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Which raises the question: If he gives $2.57 million because it is a good thing to do is there any reason to suggest his $5,000 is in anyway corrupt?

People like Flannery have a big stake in our community. His $823 million isn’t locked-up in a bank vault somewhere so he can wallow in it when he wants.

Each of those dollars is invested in something that employs Australians, and pays taxes

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An edited version of this article was published in the Courier Mail.



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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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