The best politicians that money can buy

February 13, 2015

The Australian Electoral Commission data from the declaration of donations to the major parties in 2013-14 was made public in early February.

They show that a total of more than $278 million in speculative political capital was invested in the ALP, Liberals, Nationals, Palmer United Party (PUP) and the Greens.

The Liberal Party was the largest beneficiary with just over $125 million, followed by Labor with more than $78 million. The Greens received $21 million, mostly from individuals and non-corporate entities, and the Nationals $12 million.

PUP managed to rake in almost $26 million, most of which came from three loss-making companies controlled by Clive Palmer. It also received $2.8 million from the Australian Electoral Commission based on the number of votes it received in the 2013 elections.

Property developers were prominent among the donors, often having a bet-each-way by giving to both major parties.

Mining companies were the most significant donors to political parties in Queensland. They included the Indian-based company, Adani, which gave $11,000 to Labor and $49,500 to the Liberals. Last year they were promised government assistance by the then-Queensland Premier Campbell Newman to build a railway line from the Galilee Basin to the coal export terminal at Abbot Point. According to reports in the Indian press, this assistance was worth $400 million.

Labor in Queensland apparently weren’t too embarrassed by the $25,000 donation they received from Guilford Coal chairperson, Craig Ransley, who was accused by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of providing bogus documents in support of an infamous coalmine project in the Hunter Valley.

In August last year, ICAC referred Ransley to the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions to consider charging him with producing false documents after accusing him of giving “demonstrably or obviously false” evidence to the Commission.

In NSW, where a State election will take place on March 28, the biggest donor to the Liberals was Westpac Bank which threw $2 million their way. They also received $500,000 from the mining company Nimrod Resources, which coincidentally has a gold mine proposal near the north-west town of Burke.

One clear message from the past two Queensland state elections, which routed first Labor and then the LNP, is that when given a chance, voters overwhelmingly reject the privatisation of public assets.

This is a lesson that the NSW Coalition is slow to learn. NSW Premier Mike Beard actually believes his plan to sell-off the NSW electricity distribution and transmission networks will be more profitable because Queensland’s public assets are no longer for sale.

This is certainly not the view of the NSW electorate. A recent poll conducted by Fairfax/Ipsos shows that privatising the electricity network is opposed by 77% of voters.

Baird is also a strong supporter of the coal industry and promised to bring in tougher laws against pro-environment activists during a visit to the largest coalmine under construction in Australia — Maules Creek in the Gunnedah Basin.

The NSW election is taking place under the dark cloud of corruption that hangs over Labor and the Coalition. The strategy of both parties is to ignore it completely and hope that voters won’t notice.

They ought to read the latest report from the Australian Institute. A Queensland election exit poll they conducted showed that 73% said that accountability, trust and transparency in government had a large impact on how they voted.

There is a choice for NSW voters in the March election. Susan Price and Steve O’Brien are Socialist Alliance candidates standing for the Legislative Assembly seats of Summer Hill and Newcastle. There are also 16 candidates standing on the Socialist Alliance ticket for the Legislative Council.

If you live in the Newcastle region and want to help in the campaign or on polling day, you can contact Steve O’Brien through his Facebook page, Steve4Newcastle.

If you would like to help Susan Price in the Sydney campaign, you can contact her on (02) 8070 9331 or contact the campaign coordinator Pip Hinman on 0412 139 968. You can also contact her through her Facebook page, Susan Price Socialist Alliance for Summer Hill.

Many people have already donated to the NSW Socialist Alliance election fund. As you know Socialist Alliance is only funded by those who want real change so we appreciate any contribution - big or small. You can make a deposit to the Commonwealth Bank BSB: 062 498 Account no: 1024 9186.

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