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

By Graham Young - posted Friday, 13 April 2018


It’s reasonable that with so much invested he should want, and be entitled, to participate fully in Australian politics. It would be peculiar, if, with so much at stake he couldn’t.

Flannery’s story is similar to other rich donors. What they give is, in their terms, chump change, and is frequently dwarfed by their other charitable works.

The largest property developer donors tend to be large well-respected companies, like Springfield Land Corporation, Consolidated Properties, Lancini Group, Denmac Nominess, Meriton, Walker Corporation. They see it as part of their commitment to the community.

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Property developers don’t donate much more than the average corporate donor. On average a property developer donors donate $6,240.45 annually. Not a lot different to Flannery’s $5,000, or the average corporate donation of $5,901.35.

So despite what the public might suspect there is little evidence to suggest corrupt motives in most donations.

Except when it comes to the union movement, who are untouched by this legislation. The largest donor is United Voice who contributed $303,631.77 between 2016 and 2017, 8.6% of the ALP’s income.

According to United Voice boss Gary Bullock the union had “won some fantastic commitments from Labor” and now “want to see the new Palaszczuk Government restore their faith, just stick to their word”.

In other words, they’ve bought commitments in return for support. And you can see it in full-view. They boast about it, and the results are there with public service salaries rising and everyone else’s stagnant.

The ban on property developer donations is a huge breach in democratic and legal principles. People like Brian Flannery are being vilified because of what someone else in the same business might have possibly done.

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The CCC is currently prosecuting a couple of mayors over alleged corruption. Good. That’s their job. But the idea innocent parties should be persecuted because the CCC can’t find anyone to prosecute is absurd.

It is the worst sort of mob rule.

The government knows this, and appear to have made sure it got all its property donations in before the bill became effective, with half the amount raised coming in during the three days before the ban was imposed. That gave them one leg up on the rest, and the fact that more property developers donate to the LNP than them, gave them another leg up.

In a close election it’s possible this gave them the winning edge.

There is a parliamentary committee currently examining this legislation. Hopefully there are some courageous government back-benchers who are prepared to stand up for principle.

At the very least it should be all in, or all out. Otherwise we don’t live in a democracy.

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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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