Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Why political donations are vital for democracy

By Graham Young - posted Thursday, 18 September 2014

Donations in cash or kind are the lifeblood of democracy.

Democracy isn't just voting; it is the whole struggle for popular support which is eventually formalised through the ballot box.

The need to raise funds keeps politicians sensitive to the needs of their supporters and community. It also prequalifies a candidate as having a certain level of competence.


If a candidate can't raise funds, then they are probably not worth voting for. It means no one who knows them is prepared to invest money in them. That's a sign you should think twice before investing a vote.

There is a growing call to ban donations to political parties, which has already expressed itself in New South Wales by banning political donations from people involved in the property development, tobacco, liquor or gambling industries.

Criminals can donate, but not citizens in bona fide legal industries which are also huge contributors to state government coffers through taxes, stamp duty and excise.

The calls rest on concern about corruption and influence on the one hand, and the opportunity to cut a political opponent off from resources on the other.

Yet all the evidence shows that corruption is generally channelled directly to the politician, and is outside the normal course of political donations.

Why pay-off a political party where it has to be publically disclosed, and that party then has to put pressure on a third party, the decision maker, to make the corrupt decision?


Wouldn't it be much more effective, and probably cheaper, to just pay-off the responsible official? And isn't that what generally happens?

Then there is the idea that a party policy can be procured by a donation. In fact causation runs in the other direction.

When Graeme Wood gave his record-breaking $1,000,000 donation to the Australian Greens, was it to change policy, or was it because he agreed with them?

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All

An edited version of this article was published in the Australian Financial Review.

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

33 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

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.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Graham Young

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of Graham Young
Article Tools
Comment 33 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy